It is said, variety is the spice of life, and lately, I have been a bit lacking in the varietal of luxury. The last few months have been exciting and adventure filled, but I haven’t taken much time to slow down and spoil myself with a truly five-star experience. When I was in Bangkok last week I sought to remedy that and the Anantara Riverside Resort and Spa did it with style.
If you like views, the Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort and Spa offers some of the city’s best. Located on the west bank of Chao Phraya the hotel is perfect for watching life unfold on the “mother of waters” as it flows through old Siam. It is easy to access the hotel by car (usually less than 45 minutes from both airports), but if you really want the feeling of “arrival” you can take one of the hotel’s comfortable private boats (with very welcome and refreshing cold towels upon boarding) directly from the Saphan Taksin BTS Skytrain station. The boats leave every half-hour so you can leave the sanctuary of the resort and be in the heart of Bangkok’s shopping or nightlife with ease.
Shortly after arriving from the boat dock, and after a cold glass of fresh juice, I was shown to my “Deluxe Premier Riverfront Room”. The first thing that struck me was the view from the balcony and through the big windows. The room was set strikingly close to the river, so close, in fact, you can see the crews working on the boats and barges. The room was decorated in a classical Thai style with dark wood floors, a king size bed covered with pillows, fine cotton linens and silk throws, tasteful black and white photographs and backlit wooden panels. Although classic in style my room had all the modern amenities you could ever want; LCD TV with a DVD player, a panel by the bed for controlling the lighting, A/C and television, and of course a mini-fridge and coffee making facilities. The Internet was free and fast and there was even a “phablet” you could use to make free international phone calls.
The bathroom was decked in marble with a separate tub and a decadent shower with two heads. There was all the first-rate toiletries you could imagine, fluffy towels and it was all accented with fresh orchids. And something I have never seen before, huge sliding panels that can make the bathroom open to the bedroom giving everything a very elegant and spacious feel.
Located directly on the banks of the Chao Phraya River the resort is an oasis away from the sometimes-overwhelming madness that is Bangkok. As soon as you enter the grounds you soon forget you are in the heart of one of the largest cities in the world. With ten bars and restaurants, a huge swimming pool, spa facilities and a full gym (I actually went!) you can easily get spoiled. You could lounge by the pool, toast the sunset at the Longtail Bar, have dinner at the Riverside Terrace and enjoy late night drinks at the iconic Trader Vic’s all without leaving the resort’s eleven acres of riverside pleasure.
As soon as you meet the boat at the Saphan Taksin riverside pier, you begin to decompress. The captain and the steward were professional, friendly and gave the feeling that you were in good hands. Upon arrival at the hotel you are greeted with many smiles and “wai”s. The front desk staff had me efficiently checked-in and relaxing in my room quickly and without fuss. When you travel in Thailand you can tell when the guest services personnel are well trained and it is obvious that management at Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort takes this very seriously. Everyone spoke good English and were very helpful without hovering. One of my favorite touches was the “Street Wise Guru” concierge that can make arrangements for and guide you not only to the normal attractions but some of the more local establishments.
Once you enter the grounds of the Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort you feel like you have entered a secret hideaway. Although the resort is packed with things to do, it doesn’t feel like it is all packed together. It is easy to walk along the paths among the greenery and almost intuitively find what you are looking for. Wooden bridges over canals, tranquil sitting areas, and the exotic oriental garden setting belie the fact the thrills of urban Bangkok are only moments away.