A luxury hotel in Bangkok? It has to be The Peninsula Hotel [REVIEW]

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You know you have arrived in Bangkok when you are *whizzing through (*stuck in traffic in) the city’s winding streets, in the back of a noisy tuk tuk. The smell of street food wafts over you on the slightly polluted breeze, the thick humid city air makes your clothes cling to your jet lagged limbs, and the excitement of the things you are going to eat/see/do is palpable. There is no city I have visited that intrigues me more than Bangkok. It is the only long haul city I have visited twice in one year, being far too eager to return to resist its lure. And on my return, I was keen to stay in one of the luxury hotels on the banks of the Chao Phraya river, having heard tell of the cluster that includes the Peninsula, Mandarin Oriental and Shangri-La. We chose to stay at The Peninsula, which, having arrived in a tuk tuk on the opposite side of the river, we reached via its own private boat service.


FACT PACK:

Hotel: The Peninsula, 5 star hotel
Location:
On the banks of the Chao Phraya River
Address: The Peninsula Bangkok, 333 Charoennakorn Road, Klongsan, Bangkok 10600
Phone: +66 2 020 2888
Nearest airport: 39 km (24 miles) from Suvarnabhumi Airport / 33 km (20 miles) from Don Muang Airport
Nearest train: Saphan Taksin BTS Skytrain (opposite side of river, use complimentary Peninsula boat from the hotel’s pier, to get between the two)
Rates: From £229 per room, per night bed and breakfast for a Grand Deluxe room (sleeps up to two adults and one child)
Website: The Peninsula, Bangkok
Pool? Yes, one large, long pool, divided into three sections. Quiet pool at top near the spa. Bottom overlooks the river. Flanked by sun beds and 12 traditional Thai salas. The perfect spot to enjoy a poolside snack and cocktail, or three…
Wi-Fi? Yes, in room and in communal areas
Perfect for: Couples or families looking for a luxurious city pad
FashCatherine credentials: The level of service and attention to detail sets this hotel apart from the many other options nearby. It manages to strike the balance between classic luxury and thoughtful touches to suit the modern traveller. Also, the food at all restaurants here is exquisite.


 

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The Peninsula (white building on the right) and it’s river taxi boat

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Welcome plate, in our room, complete with personalised card from our trip!

The Peninsula hotel has it’s own dock and boats, which are available to transport guests between sides and also to the nearest river boat taxi and train piers. After a three week trip travelling around Thai islands, we felt a little underdressed arriving in shorts, vests and with a layer of dusty sweat clinging to us… But, the staff couldn’t have been more friendly and checked us in quickly so we could go to our room to shower  before dinner. And, what an incredible room awaited us. This was our view:

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Our room (above) was a Grand Deluxe, situated on the fifteenth floor. There are 37 floors in total at The Peninsula, and 380 rooms – each one with an unrivalled view of Bangkok’s skyline. From our room, we picked out many sights, including the domed Sky Bar at Lebua opposite – of The Hangover 2, film fame. We had a walk in dressing area, large bathroom with separate shower, and the most comfortable bed and living area. Every day when we returned from a day sightseeing, a little food plate had been left in our room, and on arrival, we found the coconut plate (picture above) with a personalised card featuring a photo I had uploaded on social media just a couple of weeks before. This is just one example of the hotel’s grand attention to detail. In such a vast and glamourous resort, it is still ensured that every guest is treated with the utmost care. This particular gift might have been because we were on a review visit, but every room gets at least one fresh fruit basket per day.

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We ate dinner one evening at Thiptara, the hotel’s authentic Thai restaurant, which overlooks the river. The restaurant’s traditional decor, and Banyan tree-filled tropical garden surroundings, perfectly complements the menu, which is filled with tantalising treats such as deep-fried snow fish, Massaman beef sirloin and soft-shell crab. You must try the appetiser, Miang Kham, which is dried shrimp, roasted coconut, roasted peanut, shallot, ginger, lemon wrapped with betal leaf and served with palm sauce. Dining here is truly memorable, and our meal here was a personal highlight, not only just of this particular trip, but of all my travelling adventures. There are a number of restaurants at the hotel, including the award-winning Mei Jiang, a Chinese dim sum restaurant.

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The Peninsula pool at night

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Breakfast at The Peninsula is served at its River Cafe and Terrace. One of my favourite parts of staying in a hotel is looking forward to the breakfast, and, along with Cape Grace Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa, the spread at The Peninsula, Bangkok, is in my top two, ever. A high accolade, indeed! It serves all the regular things you might expect, (bakery items, omelettes, hot buffet), with pizzaz and flair, and then throws in lots of really exciting and delicious options, (bread and butter pudding, charcuterie and cheese boards, dim sum, rows of gluten free cakes), in with it. The highlight for us was the lightly powdered raspberry jam doughnuts, which we will be telling, any folk who will listen, the story of for years to come.

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We found the hotel to be brilliantly located for what we wanted to see during our stay. Not only did was it really easy to have a night out at the Sky Bar, which we reached via the hotel’s boat and a short walk, but we also were able to take boats to our destinations, instead of tuk tuks – which I love, but can be a bit tiresome, in the horrendous Bangkok traffic. There is a network of river taxi boats that you can take from as little as the sterling equivalent of 10p per trip, accessible from the river’s public piers. We took the boat to the Grand Palace area and up to Asiatique, a large, open air mall and all round fun place, but you can also reach Wat Arun and numerous other places, from which it is a short tuk tuk or taxi ride to wherever you need to go. * Always ask for a meter to be turned on in a taxi, and an estimate of the fare, and always agree on a price before you get in a tuk tuk. We also took a train from Saphan Saksin station, across the river, to the popular weekend Chatuchak Market, one of the largest open air markets in the world.

Have you read… My roundup of 16 of the best things to do and see in Bangkok?

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The pool by day. The Peninsula Spa is located in a separate building behind me in this photograph

Don’t miss… My review of the famous Peninsula Spa with ESPA, facilities and treatment rooms. Private hot tub, steam room, balcony, and ice cold coconut, as well as a massage? Yes, please!

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Food plate in our room

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Aboard our Peninsula sunset cruise

Although I am always excited to see as many sights as I can when travelling, I have to say that The Peninsula Hotel had me somewhat wrapped around her elegant finger. As much as I enjoyed sightseeing around the markets and street food stalls, this time, I was drawn back into wanting to spend time around The Peninsula‘s pool, walk around its manicured gardens, visit the spa, or just chill out in our luxurious room. A highlight of our stay was taking the Sunset Cruise, which is onboard one of the hotel’s boats. You are given a map of your route, which sails past Wat Arun, the Grand Palace, and lots of other notable sights. There is a bar onboard, and we were kept well topped up with champagne as we glided past ancient temples, which glistened in the incredible sunset glow. Taking a boat in Bangkok must be one of the best ways to see the city, and it’s culture. Everyone here, no matter their age or job, takes a boat. And top of my list of things to do when I return (which I will), is to take a long tail boat tour, which takes you down the narrow canals of the old parts of the city, to experience even more of this amazing city’s rich culture.

Did you know, Bangkok used to be known as the ‘Venice’ of South East Asia? There is a warren of canals snaking through the city – so much easier than tackling modern day traffic. 

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If you are unsure of what you want to do while staying in Bangkok, you must ask the hotel’s concierge, located in reception. He provided us with maps, timetables and insider info, as well as giving us the best times to visit top tourist attractions to avoid the crowds. There are some fantastic packages available to all guests, including families, check the website for details. And if you are travelling with younger guests, there are lots of activities for them to get involved with, including cookery classes with the hotel chefs!

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All in all, The Peninsula Bangkok is a haven in one of the world’s busiest cities. It provides a retreat and respite for the most weary of travellers, and rejuvenates by offering the finest in luxury food, accommodation and facilities. Sitting by the pool, you can hear birds singing and river waves breaking, alongside the occasional clink of a champagne glass, while always only being just a boat ride away from all the entertainment Bangkok can provide. What could be better?

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The stay reviewed in this article, above, in January 2016, was supported by the Peninsula, Bangkok.

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