Our car pulled up in front of the elegant Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok in the middle of the night. Groggy from some some 24 hours of traveling I appreciated the serene elegance, the smiling staff in traditional Thai attire bowing and welcoming us, the unspoken message that every need will be cared for.
It is a world of quiet well mannered privilege.
I’ve always wanted to stay there. The name is exotic. The history. Every since I learned about destinations in the Asian world, it has been a place that has mystified me. Intrigued me.
How perfect to be staying there for three days—a celebration of my 30 year survival from a challenging diagnosis of cancer at age 37, when my husband was told to be prepared to be a single parent and I wondered what it would be like, not to see my children ages 4 an 7 grow up.
But I survived and thrived, the children grew up and married and one has children of her own. The hair is “silver.” I love being a “Nana.” My memory some times escapes me and I can’t always manage what I did in my younger years , but holy smokes, here I am at the Mandarin Oriental.
It lived up to my expectations.
Interesting that it is smaller than I imagined, built before high end hotels included extensive grounds and sky scrapers towers with condos on the penthouse level.
The hotel, originally built in 1860 as a guest house when Thailand was called Siam, is now considered one of the best hotels in the world. The name then was The Oriental Hotel.
I was a little disappointed that it was undergoing renovation for it’s 140 year anniversary celebration, so we didn’t get to enjoy all of the traditional areas of the hotel, but what we experienced was lovely.
Most enjoyable was the lobby area with its stunning flowers. I was told the hotel employs 12 full time florists to maintain and create the gorgeous arrangements. I especially enjoyed the large “Garden of Eden” which is completely changed two months.
We loved the traditional Asian dancing and dinner and my husband took a cooking class in the school at the hotel. He’s already tried one of the recipes. I had a fabulous massage while he learned about spices and exotic Asian vegetables.
Our corner room was lovely. The level of service surprised me like a Mandarin Oriental book mark was tucked into the book I was reading, replacing an odd piece of paper. The hotel employs 1200 people to take care of 340 rooms.
The outdoor terrace by the Chao Praya River was terrific for breakfast. I really enjoyed the boat traffic.
They did offer a tour of the canals near by in a small private boat. We thought that very interesting because Bangkok was once called the Venice of the East, it’s residents living on canals and getting around by boat. Much of that is lost in the development of a huge metropolis with sky walks and meg-a-malls. The tour is well worth doing if you get a chance.
Stay at the hotel if you can, goes without saying.