One doesn’t need to be a millionaire to enjoy the splendor and tranquility Bangkok has to offer! For the price of a taxi ride, anyone can visit the oldest and most luxurious hotel in Bangkok – the Mandarin Oriental Hotel . Enjoy a complimentary river boat shuttle ride across the Chao Phraya River to the world famous Oriental Spa and gardens, the Authors’ Wing (where the original Oriental Hotel was built), the newly renovated Sala Rim Nam Restaurant and the Oriental Thai Cooking School – all for free!.
The Mandarin Oriental Hotel is one of the oldest and most luxurious hotels in the world! It dates back to 1865 when the founders, two Danish sea captains, saw the need for a hotel by the Chao Phraya to cater for the seafarers and traders who sailed upriver. The original building is no longer standing so the history of the Oriental is taken from 1876 when the old wing was built. This building is now called the Authors’ Wing.
Joseph Conrad, Somerset Maugham (who wrote the children’s tale, Siamese Fairy Tale, while sitting at the terrace gazing out at the river), Noel Coward, Graham Greene, John le Carré (believed to have finished The Honourable Schoolboy here), Barbara Cartland, and James A. Michener are among the famous authors who have stayed at the Oriental. Other famous guests include Neil Armstrong, Lauren Bacall, Jacques Chirac, Sean Connery, Audrey Hepburn, Mick Jagger, David Beckham, Sophia Loren, Yehudi Menuhin, Queen Sofia of Spain, Diana, Princess of Wales and Prince Charles, Omar Sharif and Elizabeth Taylor.
The hotel contains 358 rooms and 35 unique suites. The two-story Authors’ Wing, the only remaining structure of the original 19th century hotel, houses suites named after Joseph Conrad, Somerset Maugham, Noel Coward and James Michener. The River Wing contains deluxe suites named after former guests associated with the hotel including Barbara Cartland, Gore Vidal, Graham Greene, Wilbur Smith, John le Carré, Jim Thompson, Norman Mailer, Thai author Kukrit Pramoj. Other suites are named after ships associated with the early Bangkok trade such as Otago (once captained by Joseph Conrad), HMS Melita, Vesatri and Natuna.
The hotel opened its renowned Oriental Spa in 1993 and finished a complete renovation of its rooms and suites in 2003. In 2006, The Oriental, Bangkok celebrated its 130th anniversary. In September 2008, the hotel formally changed its name from The Oriental, Bangkok to Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok.
Note: If you can’t afford the buffet lunch or 3 course Thai dinner at the Sala Rim Nam Restaurant, just carry on walking through the Oriental Spa gardens towards the back through the bamboo archway until you reach the main street. Across the street, you will find a large selection of Thai street stalls selling incredibly tasty and very clean food, for a fraction of the price!