The first sign of a really classy establishment is when you are not treated differently if you are staying with a gift voucher. The second is if they remember your last stay with a hotel within their group, even if that was literally decades ago. And the third is when you have a long list of things you want to do in the city in which you are staying, but you find any excuse not to actually leave the hotel grounds!
Such was our recent experience at the quite-divine Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok.
I had purchased a 3-night stay through a charity auction (already a good sign, that the property ‘cares’ for things outside its own profits) and negotiated an upgrade to the next room type for a very reasonable fee. The upgrade was to a ‘Deluxe’ room which had fantastic river views. The room was compact but luxurious in its furnishings and detailing, and featured quite lovely details.
Most impressively, though, Deluxe rooms also have butlers which look after guests on each floor, sometimes to an almost over-the-top extent. When, for instance, we failed to put out any shoes for them to have polished, they just helped themselves and polished the shoes anyway, returning them in a gorgeous little shoe bag. When we needed an extension cord we got one instantly – with a power board attached! When we struggled with our DVD player, someone was there in an instant to fix it.
A new fresh fruit type featured as a gift after each day’s room servicing, with a little card explaining the fruit’s name/qualities/origins. On one day we had a large tray of delicious mangosteens, which was quite a treat indeed.
Housekeeping was personalised, as well. On the first day, they brought a little tray on which they arranged my bedside bits-and-pieces (previously spread all over the table top by me). Ditto our bathroom bits – they were arranged (hysterically, in order of height!) on a linen cloth on the basin by housekeeping.
Given the property’s history of housing writers and authors over the decades, turndown service included little inspirational quotes from famous writers, all of which related to ‘sleep’. Cute.
These personalised touches continued at public areas such as the pool, where iced water, fresh fruit and dry towels kept coming … as well as little nibblies and snacks – all gratis.
Speaking of the pool … there are in fact two pool areas, one which is a good size but has no view of the river, and another which is basically a small plunge pool/water feature surrounded by luxurious cabanas in which I could easily waste away an entire day, and which have fantastic river views.
On our last day in Bangkok before heading home to work, we thought we’d splurge on pool-service lunch (in a cabana, of course!). We had the most exquisite lobster salad (there must have been an entire lobster on my plate!) and a crab salad sandwich on squid-ink-infused bread, at a ridiculously reasonable price of around $30 for the lot, but what was even more amazing is that it came with a complimentary basket of assorted breads, linen napkins, elegant salt and pepper shakers ...
Guests have a choice of a la carte breakfast in the air conditioned restaurant, or buffet al fresco. I strongly recommend the latter, as tables are right on the riverside, with cool breezes and a sumptuous selection of all manner of fresh fruit, cold cuts and hot food on offer. They make a mean cappuccino (my husband is a very harsh judge of bad coffee and he was thrilled with their offerings) and have just about any tea you could desire for the rest of us. Multiple chefs are happy to produce breakfasts to order, and there is even a basket of stale bread which guests can use to feed the absolutely huge catfish who hover around the restaurant, awaiting their treats. Hint: this is a great way to keep your children amused while you linger with your breakfast and enjoy the view and the breeze.
We were invited by management to a sumptuous cocktail party on our last evening, which was held in the historical Author’s Lounge – all very Rudyard Kipling! Every level of management seemed to be there, asking questions, engaging with guests, ensuring everyone was happy with their stay, and serving up lovely snacks and drinks, including a signature cocktail which was just wonderful. Service really doesn’t/can’t get any more personal than this! We even got a ‘happy snap’ taken which was delivered the next day in a commemorative frame, so that we could remember the evening.
Additional nice touches: shuttle ferries (restored teak barges) to take you to the BTS (Sky Train) station, to the nearby shopping centre, and across the river to their award-winning Thai restaurant and the spa.
In short, this has completely destroyed my 10-year-old “best places to stay in Bangkok” list. There is no more list: there is just the Mandarin Oriental.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Built in 1876 and ideally located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, has been an inspiration to a host of world-renowned writers from Joseph Conrad, Somerset Maughamto Wilbur Smith and John Le Carre. Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok boasts an international reputation for splendid service, style and grace and facilities including eight restaurants. The hotel's private teakwood shuttle boats provide daily access to the world famous Thai Cooking School, the hotel's Thai restaurant, the award-winning Oriental Spa and Health Centre located across the River; as well as the nearest skytrain station (SaphanTaksin) and River City Shopping Centre. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok Hotel Bangkok
- Oriental Bangkok
- Oriental Hotel Bangkok
- Bangkok Mandarin Oriental