Hayes escapes from his humdrum suburban life into what some call heaven. He starts with a meeting in the hotel restaurant.
Text by Kelvin Hayes
I am early at the hotel but late for my meeting. My host is extremely generous and invites me for lunch at the Thien Duong Vietnamese restaurant, one of the 11 eateries making up the portfolio of cuisine available at the Dusit Thani. The menu is vast and dressed in black leather with engraved gold text. The choice is equally large and I have to get my head around not only a hefty selection of appetisers, but insane amounts of fish; sea bass with spicy lime sauce, snow fish, steamed crab claw with ginger sauce being just a few. Then there’s Australian steak, New Zealand lamb but thankfully only one page of desserts. To start, however, is a mix plate of pork skewers and crab meat with a prominent mint leaf that fuses with the white flesh of the crab and feels like a foreign land in my mouth. The lamb is the best though and coupled with eggplant and basil sauce, it’s a good combination and I’m pleased something so familiar is given a new twist here. Unfortunately the mango cake and nutmeg cream is unavailable so I accept their offer of Banana fritter and ice cream.
From my suite I can see Lumphini Park and the immediate skyline which is hazy in this, the Thai ‘winter’. On its opening in 1949, the Dusit Thani was itself one of Bangkok’s first skyscrapers and also the first hotel in the city with a swimming pool. Dusit’s international reach now encompasses properties in Asia, the UAE, Africa, India and The Maldives. Guests have included from royalty and film and rock stars including Jackie Chan, Oliver Stone, Coldplay, Tom Jones and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters.
The underlying inspiration for the hotel comes from a mythical Utopian town which claims to offer heaven on earth, but how can any hotel measure up to such a colossal statement? I do see hints or stabs at it. When I arrive there is a beautiful Thai woman playing an Asian harp that lies flat, known as the Kim. There are grand hanging lights and flowers and outside, koi swim around in a pool beneath a relaxing waterfall. Back in my suite, a knock at the door alerts me to an elegant smiling woman in white. She is not really an angel but an employee who asks if she can turn down my bed. Service indeed; well it is a five-star after all.
I dress in appropriate attire for the evening cocktails at the club on the 3rd floor and order a long island ice tea before I am escorted to the main dining area. Asked where I would like to sit I choose a pink armchair facing the TV so I can watch the world news. Having chosen my perch for the evening, or at least part of it, I’m somewhat irritated when I return with my drink to find someone else in it. I end up surfing the internet and think that I might as well have stayed in my room. And so I return there instead to do some work. In the room next door I can hear the occupant pacing around and playing Roxette rather loud. Not everything here is heavenly.
“I dress in appropriate attire for the evening cocktails at the club on the 3rd floor and order a long island ice tea before I am escorted to the main dining area. ”
It might be Bangkok outside, but the fresh morning and the beautiful and soothing sounds of a waterfall are directing me to the Italian restaurant ‘Il Cielo.’ Upon entering my eyes are greeted by a multitude of red bottles. The sunlight catches them and the emanating glow is sensuous and warm, and seems to beckon me into the room.
The interior feels more like an upmarket deli with an eating space attached with lots of black with dim lighting. I start with rustic fritata with salami and tea and orange juice before moving to the main course. I am not big on fry-ups at breakfast so settle on poached eggs with hash browns. When it arrives it looks like no other poached egg I have ever seen before. The tops are toasted brown to look like well done cheese on toast and I nearly send it back thinking there’s been a mistake. But, after a prod of my fork a rich gooey orange yolk oozes from the within like a lava flow.
An unfortunate error was ordering the pancakes, which looked OK but were not so great to eat. Each mouthful of the puffy little demons was like chewing Styrofoam. It was excruciatingly difficult to digest and took a lot of washing down with the OJ to get rid of. That was enough misadventure in Little Italy.
It is early afternoon and I am in the lift heading downstairs when one of the hotel employees enters dressed in gold. Sawadee ka, she says to me. She leaves with a faint ‘see you later’, but I know she won’t. For me the reality of life far outside of these strange and heavenly gates awaits. It’s back to the hustle and bustle of the skytrain and the enduring heat, ever grateful of my temporary domicile in Dusit Thani’s heaven.
946 Rama IV Road,
Tel: +66 2200 9000