Our return to the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, the iconic, timeless Grande Dame in the Thai capital was long-awaited. Local interior design celebrities P49Deesign and Associates have reimagined two wings, bringing the splendour of the historical building completely up to date for the luxe traveller, but holding on to the old-world charm offered for over a century.
In the Garden Wing of the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, 12 new suites have been appointed, to match the style of the old Oriental Hotel, albeit in a more modern setting. Our garden Suite offered a gorgeous view of the river, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the lush garden. Our sophisticated bedroom featured a split-level space with a dining room and living area; a large marble bathroom; and a walk-in wardrobe. In the adjacent author’s Wing, we were in awe of the decadent ambassador and Royal Suites; as well as the four first-floor Author’s Suites.
The rest of the space was sumptuous and elegant; we particularly liked Khun Ankana’s Study, a beautifully secluded spot created in tribute to the inimitable Ankana Kalantananda, who joined the team in 1947 and holds the record as the hotel’s longest-serving member of staff. We sat and read Noel Coward here, until we were called for afternoon tea, running late because the corridors on the way acted as a fascinating museum, with archive material showcasing the hotel’s history.
Just across the water by boat from the main buildings of the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, we took a Muay Thai class in the hotel’s sprawling gym, which knocked us for six after just thirty minutes of sand-bag kicking. luckily, a fabulous deep tissue massage in the Oriental Spa sorted us out. We then dined in the Sala rim Naam on a multi-course feast that came with a Thai cultural show, not something we’d recommend to seasoned travellers to the Land of Smiles, but a good first-night acclimatisation for newbies.
Right on time
While you’re Out There
Step just outside the hotel, for a walk through the ‘time-capsule’ of old-world Bangkok. The whole area is being rapidly being gentrified – albeit in a sensitive way – with new concept stores, coffee shops and art installations that locals refer to as Bangkok Riverside. Walking around transports travellers back in time, and squint and you can still catch glimpses of the city’s rich history as well as retro Bangkok life. Pick up a Cha Yen (Thai sweet iced tea) from a street vendor en route,but also expect that you can opt artisan iced-latte brewed by an Australian-accented local too.