A classic, elegant hotel with some of the best service you’ll experience in any property in this city, The Peninsula Bangkok is prominently and smartly situated on the western side of the Chao Phraya river – the quieter side.
The hotel is a short ferry or a BTS train ride from the city’s main historical sites and all the action, shopping and nightlife of Silom, Siam Square and Sukhumvit. But there are several pluses in the distance trade-off: it’s a tranquil and serene location, the outdoor spaces are big, bold and beautiful, and dining in quasi calmness at the Thiptara Thai restaurant by the river is a wonderful experience you’ll never forget.
At first glance, the architecture and outside of the hotel look unassuming. But when you step inside it quickly becomes very clear that you’re in a Peninsula property. You’ll enter a world of understated luxury and attention to detail that exceeds all expectations. My only comment is that the hotel’s style, by contemporary standards, is somewhat dated.
Outdoors, noticeably, things are pretty special. The grounds are spacious and verdant, a luxurious feeling in a city as busy and boisterous as Bangkok. The swimming pool is vast, tiered into three levels and looks out over the river. It provides plenty of sunbathing opportunities and equal amounts of shade for those looking to cool off.
Before staying here, I wasn’t so sure I would like this hotel as much as I did. The building didn’t excite me on first impression, before I walked through the door, but I left with a genuine affection for the hotel and a true appreciation of the many things that make this property stand out from the crowd.
- Daily breakfast for two
- Room upgrade upon arrival
- Subject to availability, maximum upgrade level of accommodation applies
- Spa credit
- Thai baht 800 for treatments at the spa, not valid for retail purchases
- Afternoon Tea for two
- Served in The Lobby, once per stay
- Complimentary long distance calls
- Using VOIP system
- VIP welcome
- Upgraded welcome in-room amenities
- Early check-in / Late check-out
- Flexible check-in and out time 'Peninsula Time' for all guests with 48 hours notice
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
Exclusive benefits may vary by hotel or hotel group. Exclusive benefits apply when booking the Best Available Rate and are not combinable with any hotel offers or special packages unless stated.
- Detailed Review +
- Facts & Amenities +
It was evening when I arrived, and the hotel drive and lobby were both a hive of activity. I was weary and worn out after a long flight. Leaving my luggage to be taken care of by the doormen, I walked into the reception, where I was graciously greeted by a member of staff with a Thai phuang malai, or garland, made of fresh jasmine, and a cool drink. The Thais are such welcoming people that I felt better on the spot.
After checking in, I made my way to my room, where the lights on the river at night were sparkling in the distance. Romantic to say the least; too bad I was on my own. Ordering up a snack through room service, I flicked the switch to close the blinds over this spectacular view through the room’s floor-to-ceiling windows.
Rooms and suites
The devil, they say, is in the detail. Here at The Peninsula Bangkok the rooms are discreet and understated, not in the least bit flashy. What makes them shine is the pristineness, the order, the technology and the function of it all. Nothing has been left to chance; everything has been carefully thought through.
At 45-47 m², these rooms are large and some have their own balconies and outdoor Jacuzzis. Thai inspiration is very much present in the silk cushions and the earthy hues used in the furnishings. Heavy woods, some select artefacts, excellent lighting, fresh flowers and tropical fruit (which is changed daily and comes with a small brochure and details of the unfamiliar fruits on offer) provide a glimpse of the exotic to the Western traveller.
What I loved most was the bed, one of the best I’ve slept in for a very long time. Jet-lagged, I woke up at some ridiculous hour and, pressing the button to open the curtains, made my way over to the couch, which was set back from the sleeping area. On the coffee table were lots of good magazines to peruse and some literature on the city’s happenings, so I made myself some Chinese tea in the teapot provided and sat down and put my feet up, a little clay cup in my hand.
I was too tired to work but I took note of all the USB charging stations on the desk next to the regular plugs. There was also a private fax/printer in every room. This is Bangkok, where anything even remotely techie is available, works well and is of a high standard. The Peninsula certainly adhered to this mantra. Wi-Fi was complimentary and quick. There was an a/v docking station so you could hook up your own content to the TV, and something that none of us can live without these days – a VOIP-enabled telephone so you can call around the world free.
Finishing my tea, I put on my hotel slippers and padded over to the foyer, where I started to unpack, hanging my ‘nicer’ clothes in the spacious walk-in closet.
The bathtub occupied a central place in the bathroom, flanked on both sides by twin vanities, a walk-in shower and a seperate WC. Providentially, there was a TV above the bathtub, so I spent a relaxing 25 minutes soaking in the tub using the Oscar de la Renta amenities provided.
There was a butler call button by the tub, but I resisted the urge to call for a glass of something stronger than the tea I’d been drinking. There was plenty of time for that later when I was due to meet friends at The River Bar and then have dinner in Thiptara, outside on the water’s edge.
In the room itself was a dressing table with a vanity mirror, which I took into the bathroom to make shaving easier. As I said, nothing had been left out in the room’s details and features.
When I’m in Bangkok, I generally eat out somewhere fabulous in town. There are so many options, and because Thai cuisine is one of my all-time favourites, I tend to go that route. But here at The Peninsula I had heard such good things about the in-house Thai restaurant that I decided to relax ‘at home’ and enjoy a meal with some friends at Thiptara. The ambience is fun and festive, as you dine in small wooden pavilions by the river.
Choosing to go with the signature dishes, I started with som tum, the spicy papaya salad, a classic street dish, and followed that with the sweet-and-sour deep-fried snow fish, a species I had never heard of before. I looked it up on my app to see if it was sustainable and found nothing. So I went with it, and was so glad I did – it was delicious. Everything, in fact, was superb, including the service. The wine, however, while properly chilled and served, was on the pricey side for what it was.
The River Bar, while not terribly exciting, is your best bet for having a cocktail or glass of wine before dinner. Indoors there is also The Bar. We stopped in to have a digestif after our meal but the air-con was up so high it was virtually freezing, and there were, in fact, so few seats that my dining companions and I couldn’t find room to sit down. So we left and headed outdoors, back to The River Bar, which was suitably busy but had ample seating.
Other restaurant options
The lobby area serves a spectacular Sunday brunch with live music and offerings from all the hotels’ restaurant menus, including many East and West delicacies such as caviar, foie gras, truffles, Peking duck pancakes and a sumptuous seafood station. Sadly, I wasn’t here at the weekend, so I had to satisfy my Thai breakfast cravings with the daily buffet spread, a feast in its own right. In fact, I consider this to be the best breakfast in Asia. With two live cooking stations serving up Chinese and Thai specialities, the abundant fruit display, eggs done every which way, cereals, meats, fish and just about every bread and bun known to mankind, there’s nothing missing here.
With food like this, there was a line for tables inside each day from about 9am, so I chose to sit outside and enjoy the sights and sounds over a leisurely morning meal. The waiting staff were diligent in their attention to detail, never letting my coffee cup go empty and asking every so often whether I had everything I needed.
The River Café and Terrace offers a wide range of international food, so if you’re here with kids, this is a good option day or night. The Mei Jiang, the Cantonese restaurant, is very popular with locals, especially at the weekend when dim sum takes centre stage. Chef Ball Yau has introduced a degustation menu, and while I was tempted to say the least, I decided to leave that meal to another time when I could do it justice.
Spa and wellness
I was lucky during my stay that a yoga and qigong guru was visiting the hotel as a teacher, so I went along to the complimentary 6am yoga class, mostly because I was jet-lagged and also because I hadn’t the slightest idea what qigong was. And I was so glad I did, for not only did I feel much better after a prolonged stretch, but to have the chance to do yoga with such a grandmaster was really a wonderful, enlightening opportunity.
Later that day I went to the spa, in a separate, adjacent building in the hotel grounds. Created as a holistic centre, this is a truly magnificent space where traditional Thai massages as well as Oriental, European and Ayurvedic therapies are offered. There are couples treatment rooms with whirlpool bathtubs as well, where lovebirds can enjoy some romantic time together.
They even offer a remedy for jet lag, which I considered opting for – the two-hour ESPA Peninsula Sleep Ceremony. It entails a luxurious sleep bath, guided meditation and breathing techniques to rebalance electromagnetic energies, a hot- stone body massage and a face massage. But since I didn’t have two hours, I opted for a deep-tissue massage on day one, followed by a reflexology session on day two. Both were superb, as I had expected, and the products used were very nice indeed.
There is a well-equipped gym and tennis courts too. Neither of which I frequented because I was much more interested in vegging out and staying cool by the pool – something most of the other guests seemed into as well.
Pool and beach
The hotel’s grounds are spacious and green, providing an exquisitely luxurious feeling in a city as crowded and noisy as Bangkok. One of the most impressive features for me was the super-long swimming pool, tiered into three levels and overlooking the river.
You can come here for an early-morning swim, and then stay to catch some rays or relax in the shade in one of the elegant Thai salas and admire the plants, palm trees and colourful bougainvillea.
Loungers and traditional day beds are available, as well as a casual restaurant for a midday snack.
Children aged 11 and under will be made very welcome in the hotel. Peninsula Family Moments offers great value and fun for kids and the families involved, including a 50% discount on an adjoining room (for children under 11, maximum of two per room).
Children can also eat from the kids’ menu free and enjoy a range of amenities and programmes tailored just for junior guests, including The Peninsula Kids’ Academy’s collection of fun and cultural activities (at a cost).
Staff and service
As in other Peninsula hotels I have experienced over the years, the service at every level is quite remarkable. What makes it even more special here in Bangkok is the Thai people. Genuine and caring, they look after you as part of the family throughout your stay. Every part of my experience was worthy of a best-in-class hotel.
You’ll meet people from all over the world while you’re here. Because it was a high holiday when I stayed, many families were enjoying Bangkok’s delights, the warm climate and the hotel’s superb restaurants.
I had a late flight the evening I was leaving, and the hotel was gracious enough to extend a late check-out to me until 8pm. They do this as a policy whenever possible if the hotel is not running at full occupancy.
I checked out and hopped into the hotel car to the airport, departing as I had arrived in suitable style and comfort.
How to get here
55 minutes by road transfer from Bangkok International Airport
370 rooms and suites