Guest post by Jess Hopton
Oriental Residence Bangkok is a peaceful haven in the midst of buzzing Bangkok, minutes from the city’s main shopping district…
Bangkok, the vibrant capital of Thailand, is a popular destination for travellers from all over the world. In 2017, Bangkok was named most popular city for international tourists, for the second year in a row, and after having now visited the urban metropolis a few times, I can certainly see why. The buzzing city is a rich tapestry of colourful urban life, warm and welcoming people, unparalleled shopping experiences, glistening temples, delectable cuisine and vibrant history and culture, and right in the midst of it is the Oriental Residence Bangkok Hotel – my accommodation of choice for this particular stay.
On my most recent visit to the city, we arrived following an eight hour flight from Australia, in the middle of our honeymoon which also served as a well-needed escape from the UK’s dreary winter. Although tired from travelling, I was excited to explore more of the country and to introduce my husband to the ‘Land of Smiles’ (as it’s affectionately known) as it was his first visit.
January is one of the best times of the year to visit Thailand, with temperatures in Bangkok during our stay hovering pleasantly around the 30 degrees Celsius mark – bliss after a long winter of wearing multiple jumpers back home.
The hustle and bustle of the city hits as soon as you leave the airport, as well as that delicious feeling when the tropical heat touches your skin. For such a busy airport, the taxi queue was efficiently smooth and in no time at all we were in a cab on the way to our city base, the luxurious Oriental Residence Bangkok.
The standalone luxury property of ONYX Hospitality Group, the Thai-based hotel management company, Oriental Residence Bangkok epitomises casual elegance and traditional luxury – offering 145 suites in a unique city enclave. Located on Wireless Road, in the heart of downtown Bangkok, the hotel is also right next to a number of Embassies and their gardens. Having a lush green view is quite an unusual sight in the city and makes for a relaxed vibe, whilst views over downtown Bangkok are also possible from the other side of the hotel.
As the taxi pulled up to the entrance and we caught our first glimpse of the gleaming and spacious lobby inside, we knew we were in for a treat. White walls and high ceilings complete with a sparkling chandelier combined with an array of comfy furniture and a display of beautiful fresh flowers, creating a calming sanctuary in the midst of the buzzing hubbub outside.
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We were warmly welcomed with a smooth check-in, and in no time at all we were whizzing up to our room. Nestled on the top floor, we were staying in one of the hotel’s Grand Deluxe King rooms. The suites at Oriental Residence Bangkok are perfect for short stays in the city like ours, as well as being ideally suited to longer stays for friends, couples, families or business travellers. Our room had a super comfortable bed, large television, fully-equipped kitchenette – ideal for families – and a cosy dining area complete with dining table and chairs. It was really nice to have the option of cooking and although we didn’t use the kitchen we did order room service one evening and it was great to have a proper dining table to make use of – perfect for a romantic evening high above the city buzz. Also on offer are one, two and three bedroom suites.
The shower was strong and the bed was heavenly soft, particularly welcome after a day of flying. The large bathroom also featured a spacious shower and large bath, although sadly I didn’t have time for a luxurious soak. In the morning we awoke to an incredible view of the city skyline.
The room décor was sleek and stylish in white and grey tones with a Parisian vibe, and this feel is reflected throughout the hotel particularly the restaurant Café Claire. Breakfast is served here and it was a delightful affair, with delicious food and friendly and attentive staff. Eggs are freshly made to your desired order, whilst the buffet has treats aplenty as well as healthy smoothies and local Thai delights. Café Claire is also open for lunch and dinner, with a wide selection of dishes on offer.
Bangkok, of course, leaves you spoilt for choice with things to do. As we were only in the city for three nights, we made the most of our time by taking a city tour with tour company World Travel Service. We took a long tail boat on the canals and it was fascinating to see Bangkok life from another perspective, as well as the wide variety of colourful temples along the banks of the river.
Next we visited the iconic Grand Palace. Although incredibly busy, it really is a must visit and the beautiful intricate status and buildings glisten in the warming sun. This was followed by a stop at Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha); a temple complex famed for its giant reclining Buddha that measures 46 metres long and is covered in gold leaf – truly a sight to behold. We had a private tour which was well worth the additional cost to ensure we had one-to-one time with our guide, and he took care of the tickets and access to the Grand Palace and Wat Pho which avoided any language barrier issues. Our friendly English speaking guide was highly knowledgeable and provided a relaxed and enjoyable morning whilst ensuring we saw all the main sights.
Back at the hotel, we were definitely ready to cool down and take a break from the heat, and Oriental Residence Bangkok does not disappoint in this sphere. Its crowning jewel is perhaps its swimming pool on the 4th floor, called the Play Deck. An open air pool, partly under shade and part in the sun, it offers something for everyone whether you want to do a few lengths, recline and relax on a lounger in the sun, gazing over downtown Bangkok, or take to the shade and read a book under one of the cosy and stylish cabanas – the perfect afternoon. There is also a gym and playroom – offering table tennis and table football – as well as, my husband informed me, a well-equipped gym.
Lunch is also served on the Play Deck, with a wide variety of options from classics such as fish and chips or delicious burgers for those looking for international dishes, or Thai specialities for those who like to try the local cuisine.
Oriental Residence Bangkok is in a great location for a short stay in the city, minutes from the main shopping district. It’s also just a 10 to 15 minute walk to BTS Ploenchit, the nearest Skytrain station. We did try to manouvere the Skytrain a few times and it was very pleasant however we took a wrong turn so stuck to taxis for the rest of the trip. Not that this was a problem – taxis are super cheap and the hotel concierge will help you order a taxi and ensure the driver knows where you are going. They even had the very clever idea of giving guests a card with the hotel name on in Thai, so you can simply show to the driver on your return journey – so helpful.
Of course another main reason to love Bangkok is the shopping so make sure you’re visiting the country with some space in your suitcase! We sampled MBK Center, which is well known for tourists looking to bag a bargain, as well as the luxury Siam Paragon and Central World, the largest megamall in Thailand, both offering a great mixture of brands. The Central Embassy Shopping Mall is closer to Oriental Residence Bangkok and featured pretty much every designer brand I could think of – perfect if you decide to treat yourself whilst on holiday.
Back at the hotel, the Oriental Bar on the second floor serves up a menu of innovative drinks inspired by the Embassies neighbouring the hotel. Signature offerings include a selection of Ambassador’s favourites – including the Dirty Martini favoured by H.E. Mr Brian John Davidson, Ambassador of the United Kingdom – perfect for sipping whilst enjoying the views of the surrounding Embassy gardens. Although we didn’t sample it during our stay, foodies can also try Savelberg, a Michelin starred French restaurant based at the hotel.
Bangkok you have my heart…I know we will definitely be back!
Oriental Residence Bangkok: Prices start from GBP 151 per night for a Grand Deluxe room with breakfast for two. Price is exclusive of VAT and service charge. Subject to season and availability. For further information and reservations visit: www.oriental-residence.com