Published on September 15, 2007
It may be a coincidence - albeit a happy one - that the Peninsula Bangkok, like its big sister in Hong Kong, sits on the opposite side of the river from the city's other five-star establishments.
The Peninsula Bangkok opened its doors in late 1998, the fifth global branch in a chain that was founded almost 100 years ago.
Located on the Thon Buri side of the Chao Phya river, the "Pen" Bangkok, as the hotel is affectionately know, is a modern, W-shaped 37-storey building fitted with the latest in high-tech, a helicopter pad, world-class spa, long riverside swimming pool, terrace restaurants, and a great view of Bangkok.
We checked into one of their grand deluxe rooms on 34th floor and were immediately struck by the contrast between the lazy life on the Chao Phya below and the jammed traffic on Taksin Bridge. We also realised the wisdom of the hotel's decision to locate on the west bank. Sometimes it's necessary to cross to the other side and think out of the box. Certainly, the Pen with its panoramic view of the city offers a rare chance to absorb the metropolis from another angle.
The room is luxurious and well appointed with all the standard items you'd expect to find at the Peninsula chain. We've also stayed at the Pen Hong Kong and were spoiled by the bedside hi-tech control panels, the big bathroom fitted with mood lighting, the separate vanity units, and the walk-in closet, and the newspaper delivery box. We're pleased to find nothing is missing from that list in Bangkok.
For those wanting to catch up on work, there's also a convenient desk, complimentary in-room wireless and broadband Internet, a fax machine and automatic call-screening service at the push of the "do not disturb" sign in your room.
The Peninsula Bangkok has six dining outlets. We particularly enjoyed breakfast, which is served at the Riverside Cafe and Terrace. We also had a fabulous time at their gorgeous Thiptara Thai restaurant overlooking the river. Reservations are recommended, as this is a popular spot for romantic candlelit dinners.
We enjoyed the delicious dim sum lunch at Mei Jiang, along with clear Hong Kong-style soup and a big plate of stir-fried flat noodles. Mei Jiang has just appointed a new chef, Jackie Ho from Hong Kong, so do watch out for his creations.
Those searching for healthy options should opt for menu items marked "Naturally Peninsula", a new food concept at the chain's hotels. These lighter and healthier dishes are available at all outlets - just look for the green "NP" sign.
Peninsula Spa by ESPA is another feature worth mentioning. If you've heard about but never tried ESPA's products and services, then you are definitely missing out. I loved their soothing scented bath oil, body oil and aroma candles. If you are not sure what treatment to take, you can opt for their "Time" programme that allows you to design your own treatments within the assigned time.
Recently, the Peninsula group has taken another step towards in-room pampering with a range of natural products by Davi made from grapes and fermented wine extract. You can enjoy Davi's shampoo, conditioner, bath gel and skin lotion, safe in the knowledge that they contain the anti-ageing antioxidant complex called Meritage to keep you looking - and feeling - young and ready to enjoy your stay at The Pen.
Sirin P Wongpanit