Mandarin Oriental Bangkok-Affordable Luxury
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Tags: Bangkok Luxury Mandarin Oriental Thailand
Vacationing in Asia has to be one of the very best ways to experience amazing value for your dollar. It is also one of the best places to see mind-blowing cultural treasures, discover rich and ancient traditions, the experience the utmost in luxury. This is a place where the people really are truly friendly, happy that you are visiting their country. This cannot be said for many other countries where tourism has become a mainstay of the economy. We have visited places where the locals are just tired of tourists – often for good reason. The impact tourism can have on a local’s way of life is not always positive; restrictions are often put in place, sometimes impeding access to their own natural resources. Tourists can overwhelm areas, leaving garbage and bad impressions behind.
Our recent trip to Asia solidly cemented my opinion that South East Asia is still very grateful and anxious to encourage tourism. Thailand, in particular, really set itself apart from any other place we have traveled to. Our stays at both the Bangkok Mandarin Oriental, and the Mandarin Oriental Dhara-Devi in Chiang Mai, were superlative. Having experienced these hotels first-hand, I can see why the Mandarin Oriental chain is consistently voted as having some of the top hotels in the World, with the M.O. Bangkok consistently taking top honors. This is one adventure I already long to repeat. I speak often about the fun we had on this trip. I hope you will read on, so I can tell you in detail why South-East Asia is at the top of our New Jetsetters “Recommended” list of travel destinations for value, luxury and incredible memories.
Having completed a children’s novel, which I am currently dreaming of circulating for publication, (and secretly hoping for some divine intervention from some literary ghosts) I told my husband I really needed to stay in one of the Author’s Suites. Since Joseph Conrad’s “The Secret Agent” was one of my favorite books, we decided this would be a great room to have (aside from the fact that it has its own garden and a killer view of the fascinating activity on the Chao Phraya (River of Kings). The suite was booked, a great deal on airfare from Vancouver through Hong Kong and into Bangkok was found, and Steve did his incredible research to get us on our way.
Our arrival in Bangkok was incredibly special, (see “An Amazing Arrival in Bangkok” blog written by Steve on this site). I would imagine that every guest who arrives at this grand hotel will find it an experience not to be forgotten, no matter how they arrive. The instinctive class and gentle grace of the Thai people is genuine, and the famous Thai hospitality is not a myth. This is the closest you will ever feel to being a member of Royalty. After the personal greeting at the airport and the private car pick-up complete with the beautiful jasmine flower wreaths, cool scented facecloths and cold sparkling water, the profusion of “Wai’s” (elaborate and beautiful bows) at the entrance to the hotel by the beautifully dressed staff and attentive doormen caused me to feel like I was having some elaborate, incredibly beautiful dream.
We were shown to our incredibly gorgeous suite where they conducted our check-in process in privacy, while we sipped on welcome champagne. Accessing the Authors Wing was awe-inspiring as we passed through the airy perfection of the Author’s Lounge where the famed “Afternoon Tea” is served. The aura of this hotel is almost palpable – the air of graciousness, the historic atmosphere, the serenity it exudes, is an experience never to forget.
The Joseph Conrad Suite was at once impeccable, alluring, and serene, the muted tones of mauve, indigo and gold framing the impressive sight of the Chao Phraya, the “River of Kings” beyond the huge picture windows. The terrace was to become my source of inspiration, relaxation and joy over the next few days, as I was able to observe the bustle of river activity and yet was so far removed from any source of stress or noise. The very romantic King size bed was so comfortable, only the thought of what new delights awaited us around the hotel was enough to get me out of it. The bathroom was a fantasy of marble and flowers and deep soaking tub, with a separate large shower and thick, velvety-smooth towels. The Hermes toiletries made the bathing experience extra special, a very welcome extravagance.
We loved the fact that there was a personal Butler for our room, available at the simple push of a discrete button. There were little buttons beside the bed, in the washroom, and in the living room. A smiling, helpful face was never more than a few feet away, ready to assist you with any of your needs. I still believe our butler was just waiting to hear our door open and close, so that he could rush to call the elevator for us, ready to offer us anything we needed – umbrella? Newspaper? Cappuccino? This was amazing, wonderful service unlike anything else I had ever experienced.
When my husband could lure me away from my terrace retreat, our days were spent exploring the beauty of the hotel property, from the lush and exotic gardens where we visited daily with the charming Mynah Birds, who would greet us with a comical “Sawat Dee Krap” every day, much to my husbands delight. The hotel pool was perfect, pleasantly cooling without being cold, attentive staff available with scented face towels and refreshing drinks, your lounge chair made up for you with mounds of fresh towels, cool bottles of sparkling water set out for you, menu’s with delectable treats offered to you at every turn.
Breakfast was on the Riverside Terrace, where we would watch the hustle of river barges. The Chao Phraya River is very unique because of the amount of traffic it handles. It is also unique because of the fact that so many of these barges actually tow their own houses along with them up and down the river; their way of life. Multiple generations of families live on these boats, and this is their life and their livelihood. As the family units grow larger, the amount of house-boats being towed behind keep growing. One could say that these families really look after their own.
We would marvel every morning, as we would throw leftover crumbs from our delicious croissants into the river. It would immediately become a frothing mass of Catfish, leaping and catapulting their sizeable bodies out of the water. One of the friendly wait staff told me about the legend of the rare White Catfish of the Chao Phraya, which is said to bring the person who sights it good luck and fortune. I never did catch sight of it, but I consider that I already had good luck and fortune to be able to experience this magnificent hotel.
Afternoon lunches were spent on the “The Verandah”, where I had the most delectable and unfortunately, most addictive, pumpkin soup ever. Called “Pumpkin Velvet Soup” and made with coconut milk, it was so delectable that I fear I will just absolutely have to go back to this hotel for another stay in fairly short order so that I can feed my addiction. My husband loved their Phad Ga-Prow, a stir-fry concoction with holy basil leaves and garlic chilies, with the most delicious Hom Mali rice and a fried egg on top. Delicious.
The last experience I want to share with you was the famous “Afternoon Tea” in the Author’s Lounge. What an experience. Unbeknownst to us, each serving of an Afternoon Tea “set” is really enough for two people. Our efficient and polite server must have believed we knew what we were doing, or thought there were more people joining us, (or perhaps, in true Thai fashion, did not want to cause us any embarrassment), because we each ordered a Mandarin Oriental Traditional Thai Set. Without the raising of an eyebrow, we were brought towering multi-leveled silver trays containing so much food that it was laughable. The array of bite-size sandwiches – tuna, salmon, cheese, mini pastries, tiny pies, and delicious scones with beautifully presented whirls of butter, and jams of raspberry, blueberry and my favorite – the Rose Jam – were to die for. Sigh. Yet another addiction I will have to suffer now. The mini-desserts were over-the-top delicious, with chocolate cakes and crème brulee amongst the choices. The tea itself, a fabulous Mariage Freres, was the perfect accompaniment to these delicacies. What a classic way to spend a hot afternoon in Bangkok!
Our numerous dinner experiences will have to be the subject of another blog or two, for they each deserve a blog of their own they were so magnificent. I hope you will join me for my reviews and blogs of “The China House” and “The Normandie”. Even our experiences at the hotel’s intimate and sexy Bamboo Bar merits it’s own page.
I hope you will join me as I recreate all my experiences in Thailand in my blogs, from Bangkok to Phuket and then up to Chiang Mai for a stay at the inimitable Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, another hotel and experience never to be forgotten