Sleepover: Hotel Shangri-La
A bed in Bangkok
Sunday 24 March 2002
Where is it?
Where is it?
In a prime location on the banks of the Chao Phraya river, a few hundred yards south of the centre of Bangkok. A regular boat service to the main sights departs from a nearby pier. The new sky train terminates at the doors of the Krungthep wing – a real bonus, enabling you to dispense with predatory taxi drivers.
What's it like?
The 25-storey building, which curves to reflect the bend in the river, is spread over two wings: the original Shangri-La and the more exclusive Krungthep. Riverside rooms have a marvellous view of the city, though during our visit this also included two sorry-looking elephants on the far bank.
What's its USP?
A haven of fresh air in a city notorious for heavy traffic and pollution. Its two pools are blissful places to pass the afternoon after a morning of sightseeing. Each has a Jacuzzi to soothe the bumps if you've been travelling by bus in the region. There is also a Buddhist shrine in the shadow of a banyan tree.
Oozing five-star luxury, from the vast entrance hall and the wood-panelled lifts to the palm trees and orchids in the riverside grounds, the hotel regularly hosts royal visits. It has its own small shopping complex.
Generally excellent, friendly and helpful, though some restaurant staff displayed a persistent desire to take away your drink before it was finished.
The 850 spacious rooms are equipped in ascending degrees of luxury, according to price. Ours had fresh flowers and de luxe chocolates. From £130 a night to £190 with river views. Better to book a package: British Airways Holidays (0870 242 4245) offers five nights, with flights, from £775 per person.
The hotel has nine restaurants, of which the pick is Angelini's, an Italian eatery spread over three storeys that has been voted one of the world's top 10 hotel restaurants. Prices are surprisingly reasonable given the quality, with a meal for two with wine costing around £40. The ice cream was superb. The Maenam Terrace by the riverside serves up local hawker-style dishes, including a delicious pad thai (prawns, shrimps, peanuts and noodles) for a fiver.
Honeymooners breaking up the long haul to Australia, holidaying families, businessmen whose wives have joined them after the deals have been done.
Things to do?
Take a boat trip along the river. You can book the hotel's luxurious evening dining cruise from its own pier for £25 per person, or hop on one of the public boats and enjoy the same views for 12p. Make sure you get to the Grand Palace, whose temples remain one of the outstanding sights in Asia. Or just stay by the hotel pool and have a foot massage (£20).
89 Soi Wat Suan Plu, New Road, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500, Thailand (00 66 2 236 7777; www.shangri-la.com).
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