Leading hotels around the world are famous for pampering their guests with an array of incredible amenities, but the most important decision a traveler can make is the room they choose. When talking to our readers about what they desire most when it comes to accommodations they tell us a luxurious room with a view is always at the top of their list. If they are celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or other special event, more often than not they will book a suite at their preferred hotel or resort. Being able to relax in comfort and style makes for a most memorable stay, and a chance to up the romance factor for couples who are looking to experience the best that life has to offer.
To debut Passport magazine’s new column The Suite Life, we decided to feature one of our favorite hotels in the world, the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok (www.mandarinoriental.com/bangkok).
On a recent trip, the moment we arrived, the smiling, gracious people who work here presented us with cool, moist towels as they gathered our bags and said “welcome home.” Indeed, every day during our stay we were made to feel like part of an amazing, extended family of authors, artists, and world travelers.
Located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok has been an inspiration to many world-renowned writers, including Joseph Conrad, Somerset Maugham Barbara Cartland, John Le Carre, and Noël Coward among many others.
Built in 1876, the hotel has long been known for its hospitality and style. With 393 luxurious rooms, including 35 suites, the hotel boasts three Wings: The 16-story River Wing housing the Royal Oriental Suite, Selandia and Siam Suites, and two-bedroom suites; the Old Wing or Authors’ Wing where the four famous Heritage Authors’ Suites are located; and the Garden Wing with a selection of unique split-level Premier Rooms overlooking the river and the main swimming pool.
On our second day at the hotel, we were given a private tour of the suites by Etienne de Villiers, director of public relations. As we visited the Barbara Cartland Suite, all lavish in pink (her favorite color), he told us that she loved the décor but thought the pink could have been a little more vibrant. Nonetheless, Ms. Cartland thought very highly of her suite and the hotel, declaring: “The Oriental is the most glamorous hotel in the world!”
Just across the hall, the Gore Vidal Suite exuded a masculine charm with warm earth tones, a large writing area just off the living room, and a terrace overlooking the Chao Phraya River—perfect for morning coffee or evening cocktails. My lover and I both agreed that this would be a great place to live and work during our next visit to Bangkok.
As we headed for the newly renovated Grand Royal Suite, Villiers told us about the incredible history of the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, the fascinating people who have stayed here, and the wonderful individuals who work here. It was so inspiring to hear these stories and to share his passion for the one of the world’s most fabled hotels.
The Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok was just about to unveil the city’s grandest presidential suite, the Grand Royal Suite, overlooking the Chao Phraya River. As the first journalists to see the renovated suite, we were completely enthralled at the work they had done to make this a regal home away from home.
The six-bedroom, 2,000-square-foot suite occupies the entire first floor of the renowned Authors’ Wing, which was the original Oriental Hotel, built in 1876. The Grand Royal Suite has private elevator access and is comprised of the one-bedroom, 1,000-square-foot Royal Suite and the adjoining 540-square-foot Ambassador Suite with two bedrooms, as well as three separate guest rooms to accommodate family and entourage.
Entertainment and meeting spaces in the Grand Royal Suite include a spacious formal lounge, a second living room, a study, and a dining room for 12 guests with a fully equipped kitchen and a bar pantry. A beautiful light-filled Victorian-inspired glass conservatory offers further dining for six guests as well as area to relax over cocktails with friends or colleagues. The 140-year-old building’s restored original balcony affords a stunning vista over the tropical gardens of the Authors’ Wing and the majestic Chao Phraya (River of Kings).
The corner master bedroom overlooks the river, as well as the hotel’s grand pool, and includes a large bathroom with double vanity, steam shower, a deluxe roll-top bath, and his and hers walk-in wardrobes. Private fitness and spa facilities offer a haven of peace and tranquility from which to experience the award-winning Oriental Spa’s signature treatments and wellness programs in secluded luxury.
As we wandered room to room, admiring the attention to detail that went into making them both elegant and comfortable, we thought about the people who would be staying here in the future and how wonderful it would be to share this with family and friends.
We soon learned that the first person to book the Grand Royal Suite this year was none other than Madonna, who was in the city during her world tour. Unfortunately, the suite was not ready to be occupied! The hotel was putting on the final touches, and they wanted to make sure that everything was perfect for their guests.
The next time we travel to Thailand, we will definitely try to book a suite at the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok. As many other guests have done throughout the hotel’s 140-year history, they come back year after year, sometimes staying for weeks at a time. Whether your budget allows for a couple of days, or an extended stay, you will have made the right choice. As a gay couple, we were always made to feel right at home here. In fact, our dream celebration would be to book the Grand Royal Suite for our next anniversary and throw a party for all our friends from around the world.
Take a look at the beautiful photos featured here of the various suites available at the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok. Pick your favorite, and let us know about all the wonderful experiences you have during your stay.
This is a magical place in Bangkok, and we’re sure you’ll agree with us, and Noël Coward who said: “There is a terrace overlooking the swift river where we have drinks every evening watching the liver colored water swirling by and tiny steam tugs hauling rows of barges up river against the tide. It is a lovely place and I am fonder of it than ever.”