The bathroom in the property's Royal Suite // © 2018 Michelle Rae Uy
Feature image (above): The Royal Suite boasts its own kitchen, meeting room, spa facilities and an opulent bedroom. // © 2018 Michelle Rae Uy
When I first arrived to Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, I was fresh-faced from a comfortable, premium-class flight with Norwegian Airlines and had been delivered straight to the grand entrance in a luxury SUV. Hotel staff welcomed me with an ice-cold fruit cocktail, a wet washcloth and a beautifully scented lei.
I was at once dazed and dazzled by the splendor of the hotel’s magnificent pink and magenta lobby, its soaring ceiling and opulent chandeliers. This property is, at least visually, the stuff of social media heaven, and it provides Instagrammers with a beautiful pastel backdrop, complete with panoramic river views of the nearby Chao Phraya River.
The pampering continued: I was led into my split-level garden guestroom in the hotel’s newly renovated wing, where I oohed and aahed. I felt giddy over my raised bedroom, fluffy bed, opulent marbled bathroom, automated multilayer blinds over the floor-to-ceiling windows and, weirdly enough, the cup of noodles in my well-stocked kitchen.
The property’s 368 rooms and 44 suites each have a unique design and features. For a more affordable option, clients should opt for the Garden Room, which boasts charming, colonial-style decor and a private butler service. Or, for a splurge, they can book the purple-trimmed, six-bedroom Grand Royal Suite, which includes private access, a massive, elegant bathroom and its own fitness and spa facilities.
Later, as I sat down in the bright and airy and garden-inspired Author’s Lounge — also recently revamped — I indulged in traditional and Asian afternoon tea with new friends; we feasted on tiers of sweets and savories so incredible they must have been made for royalty.
Other on-site facilities include 10 restaurants, a spa and a Thai cooking school, but, come dinnertime, my group opted to head across the river to Sala Rim Nam restaurant, where we watched a traditional Thai dance performance. There, graceful young men played battling warriors on stage, and elegant ladies balanced headdresses as tall as I am. All the while we enjoyed a luscious feast of traditional Thai dishes and desserts served in a whimsical style.
I found modesty in Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok’s extravagance, simplicity in its grandness and a well-balanced mix of old meets new. (And, of course, its food is delectable, lip-smacking and worthy of worship.) These are things that the property has perfected from having essentially jumpstarted the city’s hospitality industry — it was the first luxury hotel in Thailand when it opened in 1876 — and after years of hosting dignitaries and celebrities and royal blood.
Mandarin Oriental Bangkok