Sublime City Staycation
As many hotels struggle to cope with the continued downturn brought about by the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent decision to close the country’s borders to international visitors, there are a few bright spots where domestic tourists and members of the expatriate community are putting their faith. Bangkok Marriott Hotel The Surawongse is a positive ray of light as it tempts guests with its marvellous staycation packages, excellent location and to-die-for dining.
The hotel is situated in one of the most historic quarters of Bangkok; a stone’s throw from the iconic Chao Phraya River where foreign travellers first arrived in the early 1800s and also home to the Portuguese Embassy, Thailand’s oldest diplomatic mission opened in 1820 and the French Embassy, which first opened in 1861 (apparently under the protection of French gun boats!). Also close by are several architectural wonders such as the Neilson Hays Library – the city’s neo-classical monument of love, the Grand Post Office – a magnificent Art Deco building and Lumpini Park – Bangkok’s green lung and home to a boating lake and a fascinating Chinese clock tower built in 1920 by Italian architect Mario Tamagno.
To complement the rich history that surrounds Bangkok Marriott Hotel The Surawongse, the hotel itself is a veritable treasure trove of Thai, Siamese and Chinese artefacts, paintings and motifs. From the lobby to the rooftop, guests can find reminders of the hotel’s links to the local community and the past. Each guest room also features images, sculptures and ceramics that reveal the depth of artistic styles that have made Thailand world famous.
Twelve room types are available to guests from the standard Deluxe room to the opulent Presidential Suite and popular 1-, 2- and 3-Bedroom Residential Suites with fully equipped kitchens, washing machines and dishwashers. Attention to detail in each room category is amazing with marble bathrooms as standard, bathtub and separate shower (including rain showers), Thann bathroom amenities, coffee and tea making facilities, large smart TVs and complimentary Wi-Fi.
For our two-day staycation we booked a one-bedroom Residential Suite and were assigned a suite on the 15th floor, which afforded us great views over the city. Floor to ceiling cabinets along one side of the hallway provide ample storage space for long stays and are also where you’ll find appliances such as an iron and ironing board. As the floor space opens out, a fully equipped kitchen sits on the right and is equipped with all the mod-cons for those who’d prefer a little home cooking now and again. A sizeable dining table and four chairs creates the perfect setting for cozy dinners or family meals, whether they be home cooked or delivered from room service. Any leftovers can easily be stored in the large refrigerator.
An over-sized sofa with huge cushions takes pride of place in front of the 55-inch flat screen television while a small coffee table and comfortable chair round out the living area. Bangkok Marriott Hotel The Surawongse provides the latest in entertainment from all the major international news channels, the latest blockbuster Hollywood movies channels, sports channels and children’s television. If that’s not enough, you can use the smart television to mirror your mobile phone, notepad or computer and play movies or games to your heart’s content. In fact, I streamed a live football match from the UK via my phone and on to the large TV and enjoyed 90-minutes of action with a few cold beers. Just like being at home.
A sliding door leads through to the best room of the suite: the bedroom. The spacious bedroom draws you in with warm, earthy tones and one of the most comfortable beds you’re likely to find anywhere this side of heaven. Bedside tables, reading lights and plug sockets are all within easy reach, while a monochrome painting depicting Thai village life from another era adorns an entire wall panel. A close up look reveals ladies combing their hair, men fishing and children playing and swimming in canals. Finally, floor to ceiling windows are wed to a gorgeous day bed, which makes leaving this ultimate in relaxation zones almost impossible.
We did, however, manage to tear ourselves away from our lovely Zen space to explore some of the interesting features contained within the hotel. A masterful plan for the open interior spaces of Bangkok Marriott Hotel The Surawongse sees Thai craftspeople represented in ten unique professions. These include model makers, painters, lacquerers, turners, engravers, carvers, sculptors, plasterers, planishers and metal casters. You can find examples of these distinctive trades – many found only in Thailand – in the lobby, on the 2nd, 3rd, 18th, 31st and 32nd floors as well as in The Surawongse Ballroom at the rear of the hotel.
When it comes to dining at Bangkok Marriott Hotel The Surawongse, hotel guests and drop in customers are really spoilt for choice as the world’s finest cuisines are represented. The highlights though are of Eastern origin and span Thai, Japanese, Cantonese and Shanghainese. Western cuisine is also widely available with various pastas, pizzas, burgers, steaks, salads, sandwiches and much more to choose from. Privileged guests also have access to the exclusive M Club on the 31st floor, where complimentary coffee and tea, snacks and non-alcoholic drinks are served throughout the day. Other dining options at M Club include breakfast (6am – 10.30am), evening cocktails and hors d’oeuvres (5.30pm – 7.30pm) all served daily in private and comfort.
Wrapping up our afternoon exploring the hotel, we spent a relaxing hour taking in the city views from the 18th floor where we managed to grab our own private sala overlooking the swimming pool. The infinity edge pool is really one of the best places in the hotel to take some amazing photos. The cityscape includes multiple skyscrapers, including the pixelated MahaNakhon Tower, as well as views of the mighty Chao Phraya River, as it meanders its way through the capital to the Gulf of Thailand.
Back in our suite, it was decision time: take hot bath, a power shower or a relaxing rain shower? Fortunately the environmentalist in me won the day and I settled for a power shower, which was totally refreshing. A soft beige marble with light golden streaks and white shadows adorns every surface in the bathroom and a few artistic works of art complete the masterpiece. The bathtub and shower are separated from the washbasin and toilet by a creative glass panel that’s decorated with a stencilled illustration portraying Thai people from a bygone age going about their daily lives.
That evening we dined at Yào Restaurant, one of the best Chinese eateries in town serving authentic Chinese dishes. For our starter, we ordered the Szechuan Hot and Sour Seafood Soup, a spicy soup that totally invigorates the taste buds and hits all the rights buttons with its mix of seafood, wood ear mushrooms, bamboo shoots and spices. Without a doubt, the highlight to any meal at Yào is to have a whole Peking Duck carved and served at your table. However, if that’s too much try ordering Peking Duck served with Pancakes, Caviar, Vegetables, Hoisin Sauce and Lychee Jam, which is just as good and each bite is a taste sensation. The crispiness of the duck and vegetables mixed with the sweetness of the Hoisin sauce and the Lychee jam is out of this world.
We opted for a main course of Fried Phuket Lobster with Egg Noodle in Black Bean Sauce, Fried Green Bean with Dried Tofu and an assortment of Dim Sum dishes. The menu at Yào is extensive with a la carte dishes, soups, BBQ, plus Earth, Ocean & River, Noodle & Rice as well as Vegetable items. Many diners might feel overwhelmed at such a choice, so the chefs at Yào have created two special Tasting Set Menus that cover all bases and are sure to please the most discerning diner.
After dinner, we took a leisurely stroll along the virtually empty streets of Surawongse, Charoen Krung and Silom. We attempted to imagine the city streets some 170 years ago when rickshaw drivers ferried passengers to their destinations, steam and sail ships from distant countries unloaded their cargo of people and produce and kids ran around freely. It must have been quite a marvel for new arrivals from Europe to see paved roads, multi-storey buildings and streetlights in 19th century Siam.
After a wonderful night’s sleep, morning beckoned as tiny slithers of light made their way through the curtains. I normally rise at 7am but to my surprise the bedside clock read 9.30am. Breakfast was being served in the M Club on the 31st floor and by the time we arrived we almost had the place to ourselves. A full breakfast was now in the offing starting with Eggs Royale, toast, sausages, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms and a few slices of crispy bacon. Piping hot coffee, a fresh glass of orange juice and an immune boosting carrot and ginger drink ensured that our table for four was completely full, but only temporarily. One by one, empty dishes were cleared away until we’d maxed out on a splendid breakfast.
And with breakfast complete so came to an end our city staycation. In pre-Covid-19 days, we would have enjoyed a night out in Silom at one of the many trendy bars. However harsh the present pandemic has been for millions of people, the fact that there are no tourists in Bangkok is something of a godsend. You can walk without having to dodge other people, you can shop without being pushed here and there and most importantly you can actually stop and talk to the locals.
This city staycation was the perfect tonic and gave us the chance to recharge the batteries, clear the mind and focus attention on future projects. It was a delight to have so much empty public space, which would normally be thronged with tourists from around the world. It was equally nice to be able to quietly sit and relax in the Lobby Lounge with a hot latte and super fast Wi-Fi. There has never been a better time to enjoy the wonders of Bangkok while the tourists are away and Bangkok Marriott Hotel The Surawongse is the ideal destination.
For most guests, a hotel is simply a building in which to sleep, shower, eat and enjoy one’s self. Few, if any, take the time to get to know the people that put the heart and soul into a hotel. These are the people that provide hotels with their own unique DNA. To me, a hotel is a living entity and I can feel the pulse of the hotel just walking through the lobby. Bangkok Marriott Hotel The Surawongse has a rhythm and every member of staff is in tune, playing along to an invisible conductor.
Check it out and see if you can feel the vibe!
Source: Punch Media Digital.