Fresh from a US$100 million renovation, the most comprehensive in Mandarin Oriental’s 144-year-old history, Bangkok’s peerless riverside palace – and Thailand’s first hotel – shimmers brighter than ever beside the Chao Phraya river. Rooms and suites in the revamped River Wing now sport larger resort-style interiors with balcony lounges, custom silks and soothing water views. Guests are indulged with 11 restaurants and bars – including two-starred French cuisine at Le Normandie (jackets mandatory for gents) – two new swimming pools, an exceptional spa and some of the capital’s sharpest service. The famous prefer suites in the original author’s wing, where Graham Greene and John Steinbeck once slept.
Its prime riverfront site backs on to historic Bang Rak, Bangkok’s “cultural district” of galleries and makers, the atmospheric Talad Noi precinct and newly trendy Chinatown. The hotel’s teakwood shuttle boats ferry guests to the Saphan Taksin BTS Skytrain Station (five minutes away); Suvarnabhumi airport, 41km to the east, is well connected via the expressway.
The hotel’s mega-renovation has dialled up comfort and style levels across its 331 rooms (including 60 lavish suites) arrayed across the new River Wing, the Garden Wing with its mezzanine bedrooms and sweeping river views, and the Author’s Wing of just two spectacular suites in the original neoclassical mansion. The aquatic-themed, 43sqm deluxe balcony room in the River Wing features serene aqua and gold tones, custom silk panelling, bamboo-shaped bathroom tiles and a gorgeous wedge of balcony with chaise longue over the Chao Phraya.
Food and drink
The Oriental’s 11 restaurants and bars include some of Bangkok’s most storied addresses, from haute French at the two-Michelin-starred Le Normandie to the city’s first (and finest) jazz venue the Bamboo Bar, a colonial-styled time-capsule of wicker and shutters and the riverfront bistro Lord Jim’s, fondly referred to as Bangkok’s living room. All are wildly popular with the city’s hi-so (high society) set, especially the new 10-seat kaiseki restaurant, Kinu, where Japanese chef Takagi Kazuo designs 12-course hyper-seasonal menus. There’s absolute riverfront dining at The Verandah, Riverside Terrace, Ciao Terrazza and mod-Thai restaurant Terrace Rim Naam on the west bank.
For business travellers
The hotel serves an almost exclusively leisure clientele but corporates will find comfortable tables in rooms rather than desks and all the essentials – superfast wi-fi, secretarial services – on tap. There’s a business centre on level four and eight function rooms catering for meetings of 10 to major events of 800 people in the Royal Ballroom.
For wellness travellers
The exceptional spa and gym are set in a lovely garden on the river’s west bank, an easy three-minute shuttle from the hotel. The 18-room spa, one of Asia’s finest, offers treatments from Moroccan rhassoul clay therapy to signature Oriental massages with essential oils, compresses and serious stretching. The gym sports the latest tech hardware. Elsewhere there’s a steam room, sauna, tennis courts, Muay Thai boxing, yoga and Pilates. Plus two swimming pools at the main hotel.
The fab factor
Houseguests receive personalised notepaper embossed with the Mandarin Oriental fan and their name in gold lettering. Pure class.
Best for: Gold-class globetrotters
Number of rooms: 331 rooms and suites, including the vast and voluptuous Ambassador and Royal Suites in the original riverside mansion
Rates from: 25,350THB a night for a deluxe premier room
Wi-fi: Faultless and fast
Parking: Free for hotel guests
Address: 48 Oriental Avenue, Bangkok
Telephone: +66 2 659 9000