The big trip

The Peninsula Bangkok review: a temple to premium hospitality

Spectacular views and brilliantly efficient service – a must for this level of ‘city-luxe’

The Peninsula Bangkok

There are myriad reasons to visit Bangkok – it’s a heady contrast of calm oases and frenetic life and utterly intoxicating. There are layers upon layers of complexity here that one could spend a lifetime peeling back; most travellers use it as a jumping off spot before heading to the islands, the north or Phuket, but it rewards those who stay a little longer. 

Soothing ancient temples dotted bright orange with monks’ robes, markets alive with the musical calls of vendors, and street food stalls filling the air with smoke and glorious smells are a few of the elements which bring this city to life.

The swimming pool at The Peninsula Bangkok

The swimming pool at The Peninsula Bangkok

Why stay here? 

Situated on the banks of Bangkok’s central artery, the Chao Prya River, the location coupled with its height provides The Peninsula with spectacular views across the city; these are particularly rewarding late at night or very early in the morning (should jetlag claim you as its victim). The hotel opened in 1988 and boasts 37 floors housing 367 rooms and suites, though it remains remarkably quiet and intimate, a peaceful retreat from the heady heat and buzz of the city. A grand entrance hall sets the tone as soon as you arrive – this is a serious temple to premium hospitality.

Service is both formal and friendly and overall, brilliantly efficient – a must for this level of “city-luxe”. There’s always someone on hand to help with finding your way around or bringing you an icy drink by the pool – a three-tiered 88m beauty right on the bank of the river.

There are 367 rooms at The Peninsula Bangkok

There are 367 rooms at The Peninsula Bangkok

Rooms and suites

The rooms are all well-sized with firm, comfy huge beds and sumptuous lines. Marbled bathrooms are spacious with deep tubs and feature toiletries from La Bottega by Prin Lomros, a custom creation blending some of Bangkok’s sweetest aromas – mango, lotus and orchid. Furnishings are teak throughout, colours muted and the walls are decorated with photographs of Thai life – a lesson in subtle restraint with enough local touches to ensure it doesn’t have a chain-hotel feel. 

Thiptara offers contemporary Thai food

Thiptara offers contemporary Thai food

Eating and drinking

Breakfast is a spectacular affair that you can take in on the riverside terrace. We’ve rarely seen one that has such a breadth of offerings – from the perfectly cut tropical fruits to the vast array of gluten-free treats, to a noodle soup and dim sum bar. An eggs benedict station features an unusual and cheffy treat – perfectly water-bathed 55C eggs. It’s a popular spot with locals coming in to enjoy breakfast at weekends; they also flock to Mei Jiang, The Peninsula’s plant-based Chinese restaurant.

Thiptara, featured in the Michelin Guide, offers contemporary Thai food in a traditional wooden house, surrounded by lush gardens and giant Banyan trees. The menu brings in some playful elements to dishes, seeing the addition of the likes of chimichurri and ’nduja to complex, playful plates like Isaan tartare of beef with beetroot, northeast spices and whisky. 

Ask anyone about Bangkok and the first words that you’ll hear back are “street food”; eating roadside isn’t for everyone but there are some more comfortable places to try some of the city’s famous dishes with fewer buses, mopeds and tuk tuks whizzing past you. Right next to the hotel is a new mall IconSiam which, alongside a range of great stores, has a lively food market. Head inside to the rear and you’ll be greeted by a plethora of stalls selling everything from the infamous durian to bowls of boat-noodle soup, Thai candies and traditional crispy rotis with condensed milk.

Private spa suite at The Peninsula Bangkok

Private spa suite at The Peninsula Bangkok

What to do

The Peninsula has its own boats to shuttle guests across the river; there’s an expat bar right at the arrival point (Jack’s Bar) for those wanting an insight into what that life looks like here through some local-ish eyes.

Wat Arun, the temple of the dawn, is only a 15-minute ride by taxi. It’s a remarkable temple complex and well worth a half day wandering round. If you do go, remember to dress demurely, covering your shoulders.

Finding some calm in the hubbub of Bangkok is essential and the hotel has just launched its “Life Lived Best” programme championing relaxation, nutrition, exercise and wellness with activities including aquafit, sunrise yoga at Gong Wu Shrine, stretching for stress relief (perfect after a ten-hour flight) and a plant-based afternoon tea alongside all of their lulling spa treatments. 

A deluxe room at The Peninsula Bangkok starts from £220 per night on a room-only basis; peninsula.com 

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