the luxury hotels of Bangkok

Bangkok is a city of contrasts. It is a highly populated city of almost 9 million with crowded streets, street markets, and perpetual traffic jams (except on Sunday). Bangkok also has some of the most beautiful and serene luxury hotels in the world. I visited five properties during my recent site visit to Thailand.

Hotels by the river...

The Peninsula Bangkok. I spent three evenings in a Grand Deluxe room at the Peninsula, a large and comfortable room nearly 500 square feet in area. Rooms feature marble bathrooms with separate shower and tub and two vanities. Every room at the Peninsula has a direct view of the river (see the actual night view from my window). Deluxe and Grand Deluxe rooms are identical, but Grand Deluxe rooms are on the higher floors and have stunning views. For even more impressive accommodations, book a Grand Deluxe Suite ... and if cost is no object, a Duplex Suite.

The Oriental. The oldest hotel in the city, The Oriental opened its doors 130 years ago, but only a small portion of the original building remains. The hotel has two wings--the River Wing and the Garden Wing; I preferred the River Wing rooms. For a very special treat, book a 1BR Deluxe Suite. We were shown the Wilbur Smith Suite (suites are named after literary figures). It is a stunning room with hardwood floors, area rugs, and a great corner view of the river.

Shangri-La Hotel. The only property I visited that is not a member of Virtuoso, the Shangri-La is a quite large property that handles a lot of conventions. Upscale travelers might consider a room in the more intimate Krungthep Wing where deluxe rooms (473 square feet) offer a full river view. Krungthep Wing privileges include 24-hour butler service complimentary breakfast, included juice and soft drinks throughout the day (or from your room's minibar), afternoon High Tea, evening cocktails and canapes, and free in-room internet access.

Downtown Bangkok hotels...

Sukhothai. I really liked Sukhothai. From the moment I entered the lobby, I was captivated by the beauty of the hotel’s clean, elegant design (“Thai chic”) and attention to detail. You feel that you are staying at a secluded resort in the middle of a busy city. The basic Superior room is quite attractive, but book a Deluxe Studio at a slight increment in price in order to be upgraded at booking to an Executive Suite (pictured). The slight rate differential gives you spacious accommodations (over 800 square feet) with 1.5 baths and extensive teak wood flooring. For a real “wow,” book a Deluxe Suite for an upgrade to a Garden Suite. These ground floor suites have 12 foot ceilings and face the central garden. We had lunch at Celadon, a truly wonderful Thai restaurant that has attracted many well deserved acolades. A number of celebrities stay at this resort including an American singer whose name begins with “B.” The sales manager could not divulge her name...

Four Seasons Bangkok. The door is opened for you by doormen wearing pith helmets, and if the lobby reminds you of the Peninsula Hong Kong, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. This property was originally a Peninsula, and the lobby is quite similar. The Deluxe rooms are in need of some refurbishment -- nice decor, but some old furnishings. I recommend booking a Premier Room for a truly impressive guestroom. The FS Executive Suite is a nice accommodation. Cabana rooms are in a different section of the hotel and offer direct access to the large swimming pool; they offer a different architectural style, more minimalistic, with teakwood floors - very private and great for honeymooners. We enjoyed dinner one evening at Spice Market; great soft shell crab!

copyright (c) 2007 by David J. Ourisman. All rights reserved. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

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