Bangkok is one of Asia's most fascinating capitals, a wonderful city that most visitors use as a starting point for exploring Southeast Asia, yet worth days of exploration in its own right. Join the frenetic pace of life in the night markets, the colorful displays at the river-based "wet markets," or try to explore the city's hundreds of ornate Wats (temples) and shrines, which are so numerous that no tour book or map could possibly have them all listed. And besides delights for one's eyes, Bangkok is also packed with treats for the taste buds. The city is a great stop for those who want to experience real Thai food—you can even take cooking classes while there. Bangkok can be very hot and crowded, so after an adventurous day, look forward to a peaceful, elegant oasis at these top TravelSort Bangkok luxury hotels, all at members-only prices:
Opulent and historic, "The Oriental," as it is known by locals, almost takes you back to a bygone era. Slip into a rattan chair in the Author's Lounge, with its colonial charm, and indulge in traditional English afternoon tea. Afterwards, perhaps a refreshing swim in the outdoor pool, or a boatride across the river to The Oriental Spa, voted "Best in the World" by Travel & Leisure readers. And come sunset, enjoy river views at The Riverside Terrace over cocktails and an eclectic international menu--Lebanese mezze, sushi, and Indian tandoor specialties, to name a few. Of course, all this elegance and attention to detail does come at a price, but for what many consider the finest hotel in Bangkok, it's worth experiencing at least once.
The Peninsula, right across the river from the Mandarin Oriental, has a slightly more modern, yet still very elegant aesthetic. Rooms, especially those on high floors, enjoy sweeping views of the Bangkok skyline, while the tiered swimming pool looks out onto the river. Don't miss the superb breakfast buffet, and if you're there on Sunday, the truly opulent Champagne Sunday Brunch. Unusual but commendable for a luxury hotel, WiF is complimentary. There's also free ferry service across the Chao Phraya, but you may struggle to leave this Bangkok favorite, listed in both the 2011 Conde Nast Traveler Hot List and the 2011 Travel + Leisure 500.
Opened in 2011, the St. Regis Bangkok is already becoming a favorite of many business travellers for its excellent central location, near many offices, shopping centers, and right next to a BTS station. The St. Regis is across from the Bangkok Country Club, and views on that side of the hotel are decidedly nicer, so be sure to request one. Decor is modern and sophisticated, so if you're looking for more traditional Thai style or sense of place, look to the Mandarin Oriental, Shangri-La or Sukhothai instead. The infinity pool is beautiful, but as with many outdoor pools in Bangkok, is unheated, so quite cool. Standard Deluxe Rooms are very spacious, at 484 square feet, and One-Bedroom Suites range from 861 to a massive 1098 square feet. Even standard Deluxe Rooms come with St. Regis butler service, a nice touch since some St. Regis properties now only provide butler service for suites. WiFi is free in the lobby, and 480 BHT (~$15) in guest rooms, although complimentary to SPG Gold and Platinum members. Enjoy a full buffet breakfast with most TravelSort rates.
The trick at the Shangri-La is to book a room in the Krungthep wing, which is more peaceful than the rest of the hotel and comes with some wonderful perks. Not only is a sumptuous breakfast buffet included; there's also a complimentary afternoon tea service and evening cocktail hour with delightful hors d'oeuvres. Krungthep Deluxe Rooms also offer a private balcony that looks out onto the river, and butler service is provided. WiFi is also complimentary, a nice plus, and poolside service is excellent.
The Sukhothai doesn't have the river views of the Mandarin Oriental, Peninsula or Shangri-La, but its secluded location and lush gardens make it a tranquil oasis, which is still well-located (although not as central as The St. Regis). There might be a harpist playing in the lobby, as you are welcomed back after a long day of business or sightseeing, and the pool beckons, with its many loungers, attentive staff, and well-curated drink menu. Don't miss the superb buffet breakfast included in most TravelSort rates, one of Bangkok's best, from its fresh-squeezed juice bar to cooked to order eggs and waffles. If you treat yourself to Sunday Brunch, it's even more opulent, with several kinds of pristinely fresh oysters, foie gras, an excellent selection of imported cheeses, delicious Thai curries, crepes and many other hot dishes to order, and more. Rooms have a distinctly Thai feel, although a recent renovation has updated the Superior Rooms. Enjoy in-room espresso machines and complimentary WiFi.
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