Down by the River

 Down by the River

Bangkok is a big, hot, tropical city that is invariably going to start to wear you down after a few hours in its humidity, regardless of how many air-conditioned taxis, malls and offices you plan to enter. With that in mind it really is unforgivable not to choose a hotel that is going to take your mind off the outside world when you return. Thomas Jones finds sanctuary in The Peninsula Bangkok at the end of a each hot day in the city.

The Peninsula Bangkok is a big and beautiful hotel and once inside its temperature-controlled walls the world outside simply fades away. It’s a world of restaurants, shops, gymnasiums, ballrooms, spas, tiered swimming pools and breakfasts by the river. Once in the rooms it’s flat screen TVs, super-comfortable beds, high speed internet, complimentary cookies and fruits, luxurious marble bathrooms with luscious bath products, mood lighting and TVs above the tub.

The hotel virtually stands alone on the west side of the Chao Phraya River and its characteristic ‘W’ shape makes a strong architectural statement against the skyline. Unlike many of the other riverside hotels in Bangkok, The Peninsula runs parallel with the shore, meaning that all 370 rooms and suites look out over a river abuzz with water traffic; the ferries, tour boats, tugs, long tails and coal barges that keep the city of Angels pumping. Cityscapes aren’t everything, however, and its privileged vantage point in rainy season provides a massive open sky view of any approaching thunderstorms. Sitting in a picture window in the dark watching the lightning dance across the sky over the city lights at 3am is a pretty impressive sight. Waking up in a shroud of cloud at 6am is even better.

There is a reason why the hotel’s physical exudes oodles of charm and confidence. As you would expect, The Peninsula Bangkok stands at the top of its game and has won many accolades in its 11-year lifetime to prove it. At the time of writing it stood at 161 different awards; from the mundane categories of energy conservation and labour relations, right through to juicy industry awards for best spa, best restaurant and, quite simply, being the most opulent hostelry in the land.

“The Peninsula runs parallel with the shore, meaning that all 370 rooms and suites look out over The river.”

The Peninsula has five restaurants to sate all appetites and dress codes. Mei Jiang does fantastic Cantonese cuisine in a high-class Oriental setting, while The River Cafe and Terrace has a more casual atmosphere and is where the huge buffet breakfast is served.Mediterranean cuisine is the theme at Jesters and The River Bar is good for that first cold drink of the evening by the water accompanied by Thai snacks to spice the appetite. For a great local taste, however, Thiptara serves authentic Thai food that will have you clamouring for more. Designed like a village compound right on the river’s edge, with both open-air and covered sala-style seating, it gives you a comfortable at-home feeling that is complimented by family-style cooking from the talented chefs in the kitchen. Arguably better than heading out into the city, some might say.

If you like to be looked at, when venturing into the city try splashing out on the hotel’s limo service. The hotel recently took possession of nine brand-spanking-new BMW 703Lds giving it the most exclusive car fleet in Bangkok. For those for whom this means nothing, these ships of the road are the tarmac equivalent of flying in a Gulfstream 6. With the immense legroom, premium leather interiors and envious glances from fellow motorists, it is the most beautiful cruise through traffic in a way that most will never get to see.

If the budget won’t stretch this far, then for daily running around, guests can use the complimentary shuttle boats, which run from 6am to midnight, to cross to the local Bangkok Sky Train station, the brilliant public transport system that has made Bangkok a force of ease and convenience not far behind Tokyo or Singapore.

With so many high-rise, five-star hotels lining the banks of the river in Bangkok these days it takes something special to stand out from the crowd. While reputation and exclusivity count for a lot, it’s also finding everything that you could possibly need under the one roof that keeps guests coming back to The Peninsula Bangkok.

Bangkok Peninsula
333 Charoennakorn Road
Bangkok, Thailand
+66 2861 2888
www.peninsula.com/bangkok

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