What’s the story? Where do you start with a legendary hotel that’s been welcoming the great and glorious on the banks of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River for nearly 150 years? The guest list alone – from Joseph Conrad and Graham Greene to Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, Michelle Yeoh and Stanley Tucci – is enough to make this a shrine, but the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok is not interested in resting on its lush, ivy-covered laurels. Originally a 12-room affair, this world-famous hotel now has 331 rooms and suites over several wings, multiple restaurants and bars, a spa with a serious reputation for showing how it’s done and a riverside terrace restaurant serving what is arguably Bangkok’s best breakfast.
Eating and drinking: Bangkok is one of the world’s great food cities and so keeping people in house requires some effort. The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok goes above and beyond with an amazing array of 12 varied eating and drinking options from two-star Michelin French (Alain Roux’s elegant Le Normandie) to award-winning Japanese omakase at Kinu by Tagaki, Baan Phraya’s brilliant modern take on traditional Thai food in a traditional Thai house, the famed riverside buffet-style breakfast at The Verandah and a plethora of places offering tea, cocktails and live entertainment.
Celebrating literature: The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok has a long association with visiting authors with a series of lavish suites in its River Wing named for the likes of W. Somerset Maugham and James Michener. But the best place to soak up the literary atmosphere is in The Authors Lounge on the ground floor of the original Victorian-era building with its shuttered windows, climbing jasmine and elegant balconies. Wicker furniture, hand painted fabrics, finger sandwiches, scones and an impressive selection of the world’s best teas form the basis as one of the world’s best settings for afternoon tea.
The small touches: In a hotel this size, it’s the attention to detail that sets it apart. At Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, think 24-hour butler service to all rooms, electronic Japanese toilets, silk kimonos, toiletries in smart aluminium containers (no plastic here, thank you) and a series of lighting ‘scenes’ to change the mood of your room at the push of a button.