Bangkok has over 300 hotels in the central area so it can be extremely difficult to decide on where to stay in this sprawling city. A recent trip introduced me to the Bangkok River Partners which I discovered has eight luxury river hotels as members.
The Chao Phraya River is often called the lifeblood of the city and this is the great location to stay and for conventions, meetings, events and exhibitions as it is alive with activities. While the member hotels are all five-star properties, rates are attractive compared with many other cities and low transport costs help further.
With a combined total of 4,152 rooms and suites, 15 free hotel shuttle boats, 12 swimming pools, 13 state-of-the-art ballrooms, 112 meeting rooms, 17 bars, and 42 restaurants, the eight hotels should be able to meet the demands of any guest or event. Outside the hotels there are six lively markets, the famous Asiatique night market and seven Muay Thai boxing shows each week. Here is a quick run-down of what I found.
Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort and Spa
This is the most down-stream of the hotels and its 408 rooms and suites are set in a tropical garden. There are 10 bars or restaurants, a pool and Jacuzzi, a cooking school, and the renowned Anantara Spa. This exotic resort offers a respite from the hustle and bustle of the busy metropolis and is a great place to take in the sunset from the edge of the pier, watching as river life unfolds before your eyes.
This is not the place for hectic activities. Because of its location there are few close-by restaurants, bars or night so the resort provides its own outlets for guest’s enjoyment. Benihana serves Japanese cuisine, Brio specialised in Italian, Trader Vic’s is a Polynesian bar and Pacific Rim restaurant, while Riverside terrace has an international buffet. You can discover the city’s secret culinary treasures and hidden cultural gems with the hotel’s Streetwise Guru or explore the maze of klongs (canals) with a 4 hour guided longtail boat tour with the Klong Guru.
Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok
Rooms in this high-rise hotel have stunning views through floor to ceiling windows and from private balconies. Rooms have hi-speed Wi-Fi Internet, satellite television and your own kitchenette and dining area.
There are six restaurants and bars, a fitness centre, an infinity pool and the Nemita Spa. Pier 28 has alfresco riverside dining with Thai and international favourites. Silver Waves Restaurant has contemporary and traditional Cantonese cuisine high above the Chao Phraya River. The River Barge Restaurant offers International à la carte menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus buffets for breakfast and dinner.
Mandarin Oriental Bangkok
This wonderful property has been attracting travellers for more than 135 years. It is timeless yet contemporary, classic yet cutting-edge, with a unique blend of luxury and comfort. The hotel has 339 elegant rooms, 35 luxurious suites, innovative restaurants, fitness centre, and a world-class spa. I first stayed here 35 years ago and then again last week. Rooms have large bathrooms with separate bathtubs and walk-in showers and a private butler service.
The hotel restaurants are some of the city’s finest. There is classic French dining at Le Normandie, seafood with a beautiful riverside view at Lord Jim’s, delicious Italian dining at Ciao and traditional Thai cuisine and dancing at Sala Rim Naam. Then there is Contemporary Chinese cuisine in an art deco setting at The China House, BBQ specialities at The Riverside Terrace and all-day international specialities at The Verandah. If you don’t do anything else you must take the elegant afternoon tea at The Author’s Lounge.
The Millennium Hilton Bangkok
This is a 30-storey high-rise on the Thonburi side of the river. All 533 rooms have wonderful city views and luxury features, and this is an ideal place to relax after a day in the city by indulging at the eforea spa, the sauna, or outdoor reflection garden. Alternatively take a dip in the outdoor infinity pool overlooking the river, or work out at the fitness centre.
There are eight food and drink venues, a lounge on the sun deck, and business centre. Savor tapas-style Thai cuisine in Maya, authentic Chinese cuisine in Yuan, international buffet in Flow, or fine wine and imported beef in PRIME. Enjoy specialty cocktails and smoothies at The Beach, or listen to gentle live jazz in the ThreeSixty Lounge on the 32nd floor, which offers some of the most magnificent views that the city has to offer.
The Peninsula Bangkok
This 370 room property is directly opposite the Mandarin Oriental. It has all the facilities you would expect including multiple dining outlets, pool, fitness centre, tennis courts and garden spa. I was privileged last week to visit the striking Paribatra Aviation Lounge with its adjoining private helipad to see some wonderful Thai aviation memorabilia.
You can dine on exquisite authentic Thai cuisine along the riverside at Thiptara in authentic teak salas, or enjoy international fare at the River Cafe and terrace amidst a lush riverside garden setting while overlooking the Chao Phraya River. A highlight is Mei Jiang where respect for Chinese tradition is tastefully fused with creativity to produce a menu with dishes that range from classic dim sum fare to the innovative such as roasted pigeon marin.
Ramada Plaza Bangkok Menam Riverside
This hotel has 525 modern, tastefully decorated guestrooms and it offers dedicated smoking and non smoking floors. The top two floors of the hotel are reserved for Executive Club guests who enjoy private check in / out, complimentary use of the Executive Club lounge and other privileges. The hotel has an outdoor pool, sun terrace, luxurious wellness & spa centre, and a choice of 5 international restaurants, bars and lounges.
Terrace @72 consists of a Buffet Restaurant, Wave Restaurant which is an International a la carte all day dining restaurant, and Illuminous Bar & Lounge. The Eurasian Grill offers steaks, fish and Asian favourites. Thai Pavilion Lobby Lounge is where you can relax and enjoy a light snack, a freshly brewed coffee or opt for a fine whiskey or exotic cocktail.
Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel and Towers
This large property has 726 guest rooms with unobstructed river views. There are four in house restaurants, family friendly leisure facilities, including two swimming pools, a spa, a tennis court, a large garden area and the Link@Sheridan which is a modern style business centre.
The hotel has an arcade featuring several outstanding shops offering exquisite gems, professional made to order clothes, Thai silk, and authentic local giftware. A convenience store also offers a wide range of everyday necessities. There is also a connection to the 4-storey River City Shopping Complex, home to a large number of prestigious art and antique shops..
Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok
Here we find 802 luxurious guestrooms in two adjacent towers. There are 6 dining outlets & 3 bars, a business centre, 2 riverside swimming pools, tennis courts and a well-equipped fitness centre. CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La, offers some of the largest private spa suites in Bangkok and I can attest to fabulous service.
At dinner, you can savour favourite Thai dishes in a traditional Thai teak pavilion or on a veranda facing the river at the hotel’s Salathip Restaurant while enjoying graceful classical dance performances. Alternatively, there is an international buffet and great views by night on the Horizon Cruise. Other alternatives are Angelini for authentic Italian dishes or Shang Palace for Chinese favourites.