The Ratchaprasong district is to Bangkok what Piccadilly Circus is to London and Times Square to New York — the heart of the city and home to some of its swankiest hotels and shopping malls. The Anantara Siam Bangkok, the group’s flagship property, is located here and has the added luxury of looking out to the city’s most exclusive greenery, the golf course of the Royal Bangkok Sports Club. Built in the days when nine stories were considered tall, the hotel is now surrounded by high-rise buildings but nestles comfortably in tropical gardens and boasts a large swimming pool.
Classy is the word that springs to mind in the elegant lobby with its silk-upholstered sofas, jewel colors, hand-painted ceiling mandala patterns and a marble staircase that sweeps down from a ravishing golden fresco. Dropping in here for an afternoon tea or evening cocktail is the best way to quite literally chill out and escape Bangkok’s year-round soaring temperature and humidity.
This is notoriously a city where you can eat at any time of the day, and its street food is some of the best in Asia. But we decided that Anantara’s nine in-house dining options were more than enough for the time we were staying. They include the Madison Steakhouse with grilled surf-and-turf platters, the Japanese Shintaro and Italian Biscotti restaurants, and Aqua in the lush garden courtyard for relaxed all-day dining. With our passion for all things Thai, our first stop was Spice Market, where we loved the intoxicating flavors and fragrances of the tangy lemongrass and mint on the grilled river prawns and the crispy soft-shell crab.
The Anantara Presidential Suite, which has hosted Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, is designed with Thai silk.
Cluster Director of Public Relations Monica Majors ([email protected]; 011-662-126-8866) invited us to join the World Gourmet Festival, and what a treat it turned out to be. This annual week-long event is every gastronome’s dream, with a line-up of celebrity chefs — selected from the World’s Best 50 Restaurant list — who engage with guests at lavish lunches and dinners. We were lucky to catch a captivating morning rendezvous with Chef Bobby Chinn, lunch with France’s Mauro Colagreco and, at dinner, discover the exciting cuisine of Chef Ana Roš, who hails from Slovenia. Extraordinary dining experiences in the hotel’s restaurants, along with a selection of world-class wines, sakes and spirits, made this event truly memorable. Tip: If you have A-listers with a penchant for stellar gourmet dining, you should secure a table for the next World Gourmet Festival scheduled to run September 4-10, 2017. Details will be online from summer or you can contact [email protected] or call 011-662-126-8866, ext 1205.
The Premier and Deluxe rooms were renovated before the hotel reopened last year as an Anantara (from being a Four Seasons), and have Thai art on the teak bedheads and a cell phone that can be used on and off the property, as well as for complimentary international calls, including to the U.S. The Premier and Deluxe rooms and suites include access to the Kasara Executive Lounge. While the 560-square-foot Garden Terrace Rooms are tucked away in the greenery and have pool and lotus-pond views, the 820-square-foot Garden Terrace Suite has a separate living room and a deep-soaking tub in the marble bathroom.
For VIPs, the choice lies between the handsome Jim Thompson and Presidential Suites. The former is a palatial 2,130-square-foot suite with two bedrooms and soothing views over the Royal Bangkok Sports Club. The Presidential Suite, which has been home to Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, has an outdoor pool, its own massage suite and can accommodate up to three adults. For your VIP needs, contact General Manager Patrick Both ([email protected]; 011-66-614-197-820).
Traditional Thai design and fragrances set the scene in the Anantara Spa. Manager Chanapach Khumkhur ([email protected]; 011-662-126-8832) suggested the 2482 massage, and we were intrigued by the name which we discovered is the year on the old calendar when the kingdom changed its name from Siam to Thailand. The number also refers to the use of two bamboo sticks, four techniques — Thai massage, herbal compresses, foot massage and oil massage — eight compress balls and finally two gold leaves that are placed beside the heart and on the hand to quieten the mind. Senior Spa Therapist Sujitra Ponathong, Beautician Therapist Samut Meehiri and Spa Therapist Prompitchaya Watchareepornphupetch are all much in demand, so it is recommended to reserve treatments as far ahead of arrival as possible.
Shintaro, one of Anantara’s nine in-house dining options, is a tatami-style restaurant.
Chief Concierge Krit Tokrisna ([email protected]; 011-662-126-8866, ext 6) can arrange seats for the King’s Cup Elephant Polo, which draws visitors from all over the world every March. This exciting event, held beside the Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort, is a charity tournament with a couple of dozen elephants, an exciting opening parade, activities for families and local teams competing for the coveted Polo Cup. Tokrisna can also arrange meet-and-greet services at Bangkok’s two international airports with fast-track and visa-on-arrival assistance. And for guests who don’t have time to waste, he advises booking personal shoppers at least three days ahead. Local best-buys include glowing Thai silks — the best selection is in the nearby Jim Thompson House — table and bed accessories, costume jewelry, home décor items like the Thai triangle cushions, pottery and spa products.
We took an evening Manohra Cruise from the landing stage in the gardens of the Anantara Riverside and feasted on seafood and Thai specialties on the old wooden rice barge that slowly made its way along the Chao Phraya river. Before the cruise, Avani’s Director of Marketing Communications Elizabeth Dass-Brown ([email protected]; 011-66-861-098-217) took us for a sundowner at the Attitude roof bar in the new 248-key Avani Riverside Bangkok Hotel. This is the first purpose-built Avani and has the most amazing views, as there are no other high-rise buildings around it for at least a kilometer. We loved the vibe of the contemporary open spaces that effortlessly blend the reception, lounge and restaurant areas. Dass-Brown said all rooms and suites have river views, and pointed out cutting-edge features like the rooftop pool and the paperless check-in. She said the hotel, with its upbeat vibe, minimalist luxury and details that matter, appeals to business and millennial travelers.