Contributor/ Saffron Powell Brown
Best Known For
The Banyan Tree in Bangkok is one of the tallest, most slender modern spa hotels in the city, the Banyan group has an impressive range of hotels, some of the most stunning that you’ll ever see.
The Good Stuff
I often talk about hidden gems and retreat hotels where you can get away from the bustling life; this trend couldn’t be more applicable than with the city of Bangkok. It’s possibly one of the most hectic cities on the planet, so you need your wits about you every second. This, I’m sure you can imagine can be pretty tiring so thank god for the calming hotels on offer in this chaotic city. Life on the street below couldn’t be more different than upstairs, cocooned in the hotel. So imagine what the rooftop feels like, named Vertigo & Moon Bar and shaped like a giant ocean liner on the 61st floor. It really is staggeringly high, vertigo inducing you might say, I couldn’t stay up there too long, things appeared to be wobbling, it was a gusty night and I just had to get down. That said, on a calmer night weather-wise I’m sure it’s amazing. I was much happier in the pool on the outdoor deck on the 21st floor, a great way to jump start the day. Other perks include free parking, although you’d have to be slightly crazy to drive in this city, an outdoor pool on the ground floor and health spa with a whopping 16 treatment rooms, Thai cooking classes taught by professional chefs are available and TVs have free movie channels. Oh, and the exclusive Spa Deluxe Rooms include a one-hour massage every other day.
The guests are a real mix of business and pleasure and the staff truly brims with that Thailand charm. I was presented with a beautiful bracelet made from flowers when we arrived in the huge lobby. It was quite a long wait to check in, the idea is that you chill with some tea whilst listening to the three-piece classical band, but we were tired from the flight from Krabi and just wanted to crash out. Compared to the brand’s other hotels, this isn’t the most impressive nor the most decadent, as the more idyllic ones tend to be by lush surroundings and spill out on to beach. There’s only so much you can do when you’re in the middle of a city like Bangkok. If you visit in September you can race up the stairways in the hotel’s annual vertical marathon, a fundraiser for HIV education.
Inside the hotel – 8/10
Our suite had a standard business traveller design, slightly disappointing, not enough of an Asian influence for me. Loved the array of teas on offer though, and the obligatory welcome fruit bowl. The ceramic Banyan Tree bottles of bath oils and lotion were a lovely touch, as were the scented oils and incense. Dining options are immense as there are seven restaurants to choose from including national Thai favourites at Saffron, you can’t go wrong with a name like that. Bai Yun for nouveau Chinese, Pier 59 for Mediterranean, Taihea (teppanyaki and sushi) and Romsai, for breakfast and all-day dining below the lobby level. The hotel even provides a dinner cruise along the Chaophraya River. The highlight for me was breakfast, they had everything, and I mean everything. Plus it was set in a gorgeous open room with views of the tropical garden with waterfalls outside, we even spotted a turtle! The spa is said to be incredible, unfortunately due to time restraints we had to give it a miss. We had just 24 hours to explore as our visit was a pitstop on the return from our honeymoon in Krabi.
Outside the hotel – 7/10`
Situated in the heart of Bangkok within easy access to all the main shopping and entertainment areas, a Skytrain station is a 15-minute walk away and it’s just a short walk to great nightlife and shopping on Silom Road. Don’t miss, another, rooftop bar at the State Tower where a scene from the Hangover II film was set. Lumpini Park is nearby, where pensioners practise Tai Chi every morning and Lumpini Metro station are within a 10-minute walk from the hotel, river taxis or regular taxis are the best way to get around.
Image courtesy of Banyan Tree