The Shangri-La Hotel Group continues to win many top hotel awards and kudos in the hospitality world; each hotel offers an exclusive level of comfort and style. I found Bangkok’s riverfront Shangri-La continues this tradition of luxury and top-flight service.
A stay at the Shangri-La Bangkok means comfort at every turn. My room was a riverfront deluxe, one of the more basic in a hotel with 802 guestrooms and all levels of suites and apartments. The room was spacious and featured a good-sized balcony with an incredible river view from the 24th floor. I kept gravitating outdoors to the view, gazing up and down the river, enjoying the boats and the high-rise skyline and traffic on the Taksin Bridge. At night, I watched the riverfront light up and the celebratory parade of boats and activity below.
Inside, my room offered calm– silks, teak and other dark wood furnishings, a king-sized bed with lavish bedding and a full pillow menu, comfortable seating and desk space, and opulent lighting. The bathroom was luxurious travertine with separate bath and shower and plump bath sheets.
Even More Luxe
Ready for a splurge? Guests can also stay in one of the Horizon Club rooms for even more room comforts as well as happy hour and other amenities in the club lounge. For travelers who want to pull out all stops, they can reserve a room in the (even more) luxurious and newer ($60 million dollar) Krungthep Wing where accommodations feature garden balconies overlooking a private pool and the Chao Phraya River.
Any of the suites are well-suited for the leisure, business or group traveler and include complimentary high-speed broadband Internet access, flatscreen TVs with in-house movie channels and DVD player, and wonderful sound systems. Business travelers will appreciate the full-size executive writing desk, international direct dial telephone, in-room fax machine, and electronic safe.
Family suites are available with little boosts like two children under 6 eat for free at the buffet (more than 2 and children 7-12 years get 50% off). These amenities can make all the difference to those traveling with children. Regardless of the level suite, everything here spells luxury.
The beautiful outdoor pool facilities include attentive staff, plenty of outdoor lounge chairs, sumptuous landscaping, a water shower, and two pool-side restaurants and bars. There’s also a private pool for those staying in the Krungthep Wing.
Free fitness classes are offered daily in the recently renovated well equipped exercise facilities. I joined a complimentary yoga class and Mr. Worachit put us through a wonderfully congenial workout while keeping us laughing. This therapeutic class was nearly as blissful as a massage in CHI, the hotel’s luxe spa.
Restaurants, Lounges, and Shopping
The hotel’s restaurants offer dining in smart settings, with cuisine to satisfy nearly any culinary urge. The service is friendly and helpful and the is food delicious.
Angelini serves what’s reputed to be the best Italian food in Bangkok and it’s consistently heavily booked (reservations recommended).
Guests can take the hotel’s private riverboat Horizon II dinner cruise and join the evening flotilla on the Chao Praya River. Riverboat travelers enjoy cool evening breezes, cocktails and a delicious meal under the stars.
Salathip is Shangri-La’s Thai restaurant, serving dishes overseen by Thai Chef de Cuisine Tussanee Putkaew. Guests dine in the teak pavilion situated right over the river while enjoying a nightly Thai dance performance.
Next 2 is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers an international buffet that’s to die for. The expansive buffet is a trip around the world, with sections devoted to Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Continental dishes. Ingredients are fresh and beautifully displayed, with many salads, fresh fruit and juices, and made-to-order offerings. Some of my favorites included the Chinese congee bar, Japanese sushi and pickles, Indian hara kebabs and saag paneer (cooked spinach studded with cubes of fried paneer cheese), Thai rice puddings hot off cast iron molds, well-aged European cheeses and charcuterie, and delicate French pastries. The seafood was delectably fresh and I especially enjoyed a delicate sea bass with lime, capers, green onion, and sun-dried tomatoes.
Shang Palace offers authentic Cantonese cuisine from Chinese Chef Sham Yun Ming, including Sticky Rice with Crabmeat and Buddha Jumps Over the Wall, all served in richly appointed décor.
The Chocolate Boutique may be one of the best bargains in Bangkok. Beautifully formed chocolates are displayed in glass cases like museums pieces. Making my selections each day was difficult, but everyone one was deliciously indulgent.
Explore the Neighborhood
The Shangri-La Bangkok is located along the mighty Chao Praya River in the Bang Rak district just south of Rattankosin and Bangkok’s Chinatown. This older area includes opportunities for excellent small-store shopping, especially for silks and clothing and Thai gems, gold, and silver. This is one area where you can get suits and dresses specially fitted, although each store also offers well-priced ready-made silk, cotton and linen clothing as well. And of course, like elsewhere in Bangkok, the neighborhood boasts some tasty restaurants and food stalls.
To get to the city’s super-efficient SkyTrain, guests simply walk through the hotel’s Krungthep Wing to the Saphan Taksin SkyTrain stop. Like in any large city, driving is best avoided in Bangkok and the Sky Train truly makes all the difference in getting around. It’s clean, safe, easy to use and very inexpensive.
From the Saphan Taksin stop, travelers can visit many of the city’s top sites, including the Chatuchak Weekend Market, Jim Thompson’s House, and the top shopping malls and trendy neighborhoods. They can also take the SkyTrain over the river into Thonburi to explore the city’s famous small waterways.
For me, the must-see highlights of Bangkok include the Rattankosin district with its Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo and Wat Pho. While staying at the sumptuous Shangri-La Bangkok isn’t as convenient as staying right in this area, it’s easy to take water buses north. And being on the water is a wonderful way to experience the city.
Real Bottom Line: You won’t be disappointed by a stay at any worldwide Shangri-La hotel. The Bangkok hotel is a fabulous riverfront choice for your next visit to Bangkok.-– By Nancy Zaffaro, RFT NW Wine, Brews, & Spirits Editor
If You Go:
Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok, www.shangri-la.com/bangkok/shangrila