The Shangri-La Bangkok, 89 Soi Wat Suan Plu, New Road, Bangrak, Bangkok, Thailand. is located on the Chao Praya River in the heart of the capital city of this storied Southeast Asian country.
Although it’s a massive property with 802 guestrooms spread over two disparate wings, it never feels like the enormous convention hotel it is. The elevators are swift, the service meticulous, and the guestrooms blissfully soundproof. A solitary visitor, I was aware of the meetings in progress only by noticing nametags on some of the other guests (it’s also a popular wedding venue).
The Krungthep Wing, with a separate entrance and lobby, attracts guests who prefer a bit more privacy. Rooms have balconies overlooking the river. Its Presidential Suite (a spacious 2,314 square feet) contains a bedroom with canopied king-size bed, separate sitting room, kitchenette, and dining area.
My room was on the top floor — the 25th — of the larger Shangri-La Wing, and had an almost endless view north along the Chao Phraya River. It was part of Horizon Club, “exclusive” floors with special amenities and services, including access to the Horizon Club Lounge which features daily breakfast, beverages and canapés, wifi, and suit-pressing as well as a selection of meeting facilities.
(The Shangri-La Wing’s Presidential Suite is even larger than the one in the Krungthep Wing. It’s 2,529 square feet allocated to bedroom, sitting room, kitchenette, dining room, and bathroom.)
A nice touch in my guestroom: alongside my bed was a copy of James Hilton’s “Lost Horizon” — the classic 1933 novel in which the protagonist visits Shangri-La, an idyllic settlement high in the mountains of Tibet. The hotel chain of the same name started in 1971 in Singapore, promising its guests the “serenity, harmony, and natural beauty” of the mythic Shangri-La. (There also are copies of “The Teaching of Buddha”, and, courtesy of the ubiquitous Gideons, “The New Testament”.)
As expected, there was unlimited WiFi internet access, and a flat-screen television with satellite and cable television plus in-house movie channels. The spacious desk had an electrical plug right on top, plus a box with office equipment essentials. The room also had two robes, two pairs of slippers, two sets of shoe trees, clothes brush, iron and ironing board, safety deposit box, valet suit stand, mini bar, and coffee/tea-making equipment plus four complementary bottles of water.
The marble bathroom had a separate bathtub and rainshower, hair dryer, bathroom scale, and L’Occitane amenities. There were useful grab bars in both the tub and the shower. On a small glass shelf next to the toilet was a handy memo pad and pencil.
In between the two wings (and easily accessible from both) is the Shangri-La Bangkok’s CHI spa, with a diverse menu of treatments including that honeymoon and anniversary staple, the couples massage. Each wing has a separate swimming pool, and there also are tennis courts and a fitness center. When I was there, a half-dozen children (complete with water wings) frolicked as their parents shot video at the Shangri-La Wing’s pool.
Don’t want to go out of the hotel for a meal? There are six restaurants plus three bars on site. Even if you’re not staying at the Shangri-La Bangkok, you shouldn’t miss The Chocolate Boutique in the lobby, a must-stop for chocoholics. It has the most beautiful confections, including chocolate shaped into a tuk-tuk.
Save an evening for the Shangri-La’s Horizon Cruise, a leisurely two-hour jaunt up and down the Chao Phraya River with an international buffet (my favorite among the dessert choices? the passion fruit sorbet!).
A word about traffic: it’s horrendous almost all the time, and, between the tuk-tuks, motorscooters, taxis, cars, and trucks, you risk your life every time you cross a street (traffic lights are sporadically ignored, so keep alert). And, oh yeah, they drive on the left in Thailand, so look right before stepping off the curb.
You can make reservations at the Shangri-La Bangkok on the hotel’s website, or via any of the usual hotel booking sites such as Hotels.com. Rates start about $165.
Orchids, such as these, filled the lobby of the Shangri-La Wing of the hotel.
(Photos by Susan McKee, who was a guest of the Shangri-La Bangkok)