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My shoulders dropped a few inches as soon as the luscious yellow mangoes touched my lips.
There are only a handful of places in the world where mangoes are perfect, and Thailand is one of them. However, for a reason I can’t fathom, these sweet, golden treasures are not always on hand at every hotel in the country.
It doesn’t make sense, really. When you have something as good as Thai mangoes, isn’t it your duty to share them with everyone? To ration them out in every breakfast buffet, in every snack bar, in every hotel? It’s mangoes or death! But, alas, things don’t always make sense.
Thank goodness my hotel did.
Those who know me well might wonder why I stayed at The Peninsula Bangkok, a big-brand, seemingly homogeneous hotel. After all, I’m a fairly offbeat traveler who prefers the idiosyncratic sanctuary of boutique retreats to the obvious, in-your-face opulence of luxury hotels.
I’ll tell you why.
It was the thoughtful, almost intuitive touches that permeate the hotel’s every nook and cranny and breathe life into its otherwise impersonal design.
The property’s guestrooms and suites are herculean and curated with a wonderland of convenience — electronic room-control panels on either side of the bed, a small television built into the bathtub and tabletop outlets, to name a few.
And since a trip to Bangkok simply isn’t complete without an alfresco dining experience along the banks of the Chao Phraya River, on-site restaurant Thiptara offers that and more. Guests can sit under the stars at its torch-lit tables and open-air pavilions while ordering from the paradise-like menu of Thai dishes delivered with creative twists. And the hotel’s impeccable breakfast spread has everything guests could possibly ever want. (Because when you think about it, the first fuel of the day shouldn’t be just one thing; it should be many things, including Thai, Chinese, American, British and French dishes.)
When it was time to relax, I checked out the property’s stunning spa, where moody massage suites are tucked away from the busy public spaces. The menu offers more than just different variants of the Swedish massage. To truly experience the Peninsula Spa, I chose its signature Peninsula Sleep Ceremony treatment, which involves an aromatic bath, meditation, a hot stone massage, a facial and a scalp massage. It was two hours of pure bliss.
Another reason I chose to spend my vacation here? Because even if guests never leave the property, the staff wants to make sure that they partake in authentic Thai experiences. The Tak Bart ceremony is a great example; every morning, guests have a chance to participate in an alms-giving ritual for the area’s monks.
And it’s the nice little extras that make the stay, too: a pillowcase with my name embroidered on it; a plate of pomelo waiting for me in the room (how did they know pomelo was the fruit of my childhood?); the whimsical, glorious-smelling lei the staff welcomed me with when I first arrived; the herbal compress-making class that reoriented me to my favorite Thai herbs and plants; and the lovely woman who stopped what she was doing to tell me all about Thai spirit houses after she saw me admiring one.
And, of course — unquestionably and ultimately — it was the mangoes.