Krung Thep’s Best Hotels
Of all the roads, streets, lanes and alleyways in Bangkok, none other reflects the city’s rich and culturally diverse history than Captain Bush Lane. Less than a kilometre in length, this side-street was named after an English sea captain (also Bangkok’s first Harbour Master) and was home to many of Bangkok’s early expatriate community of the 1880s. Fast forward 240 years and it is now the location of one of Krung Thep’s best hotels, the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers.
Thankfully, city planners have kept this little piece of history alive and visitors to the capital can find the street sign, which reads Charoen Krung 30 (Soi Captain Bush). For well over a century, Captain Bush Lane was home to eminent foreign, banking giant HSBC had its headquarters here as did the French Distillery Company, while Louis T. Leonowens built his warehouse just opposite the hotel. When these institutions closed for the day, many of the foreign ladies and gentlemen would head to the nearby United Club, which was founded in 1888 and served as a social club for Western expatriates.
While the Portuguese Embassy still sits proudly overlooking the Chao Phraya River as it has done for over 160 years, most of the people heading to Captain Bush Lane are going to the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers. This stylish city-resort has served local and international guests in five-star luxury since it was opened by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit The Queen Mother of Thailand on 22nd July, 1983.
Established on the legendary Si Phraya Pier, the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers has earned the title of one of Bangkok’s best luxury resort-style hotels on the riverside. The hotel’s numerous accolades include, but are not limited to, two World Travel Awards as Thailand’s Leading Conference Hotel and Thailand Leading Hotels, being voted into the Top 50 World’s Best Hotels in Asia and World’s Most Valuable Hotel by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine. The striking ‘Y’ shape design of the hotel – coupled with its location on a bend in the river – ensures that every guest room has an unhindered view of the majestic Chao Phraya River.
Once you enter the hotel, you are welcomed by a tranquil and stylish lobby that features as its centrepiece the awe-inspiring Phra Kaew Morakot Buddha, an image revered by Thais and considered an item of great antiquity. The lobby stretches out to the Lobby Lounge, a casual setting where guests can relax listening to music while enjoying a light snack or a drink – alcoholic or non-alcoholic – from the bar before they head out for dinner or a sightseeing tour.
After a speedy check-in, we made our way to the two banks of lifts; one set serves the lower floors while another set whisks guests up to the higher floors. Our suite for the weekend was on the 21st floor and at the centre of the twin towers, meaning we had views up and down the river. In total there are 726 spacious and well-appointed guest rooms and suites and prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the majority of these would have been booked. During our stay the occupancy was a fraction of what it normally would have been for an April visit.
In the main living area, a comfortable sofa and coffee table were precisely placed adjacent to the large windows that framed the Chao Phraya River and Sathorn bridge off in the distance. I thought to myself, this would be the ideal perch to sit and watch the fireworks as they light up the night sky on New Year’s Eve. Our bedroom was huge and featured the famous Sheraton Signature Bed, a luxurious, multi-layered plush customer-designed bed that sports an 11.5-inch thick high coil Sealy Posturepedic Plush Top mattress. If that wasn’t enough to put me to sleep, the bed also comes with four sumptuous feather down and hypoallergenic pillows, crisp cotton sheets, and a characteristic, comfy fleece blanket and duvet.
With our curtains thrown wide open, we had views back up the river towards Wat Arum as well as across to IconSiam, the biggest high-end shopping mall on the Thonburi side of the river. In the bedroom there were also two comfortable armchairs that were placed directly in front of the floor to ceiling windows. A small table in between on which to rest a refreshing cold beverage. These chairs are absolutely perfect for lazy afternoons when you can while away an hour or two staring down on the marvellous river life as boats crisscross the river ferrying people to the other side, while every now and then one of the new electric riverboats glides by.
After settling into our suite, we decided to explore the hotel and the surrounding areas. Unfortunately, the Club Lounge and spa were both closed for renovations as was the renowned Thai restaurant Thara Thong, which serves Royal Thai cuisine. Walking out through the doors on the mezzanine level, you come face to face with the river. And what a sight it is. From dawn till dusk, the Chao Phraya River is one of the busiest waterways in Asia. As mentioned before, boats of all shapes and sizes ply this water in all directions; some crisscrossing while others serve piers from Yannawa to Nonthaburi, while in between you have tugboats slowly pulling rows barges. Even at night the waterborne traffic continues as huge double-decked river cruises and party boats treat diners to unbelievable river views of Bangkok’s most glorious landmarks.
The mezzanine level is also home to the terrace pool around which half a dozen guests were tanning themselves on sun loungers. This is where you’ll also find the well-equipped fitness centre that is open to guests 24 hours a day. Following the corridor passed the pool, you come to a set of stairs that drop down to the gorgeous garden pool, replete with Jacuzzi, and surrounded by mature tropical trees. If you are lucky, one of the resident peacocks that inhabit the hotel’s gardens – as well as the Portuguese Embassy gardens, might open its lovely feathers. The relaxing garden pool gives the hotel a resort feel and with countless birds chirping in the background, it is hard to believe you are in the centre of a city of 14 million people.
The Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers is home to several award-winning restaurants that offer a wide range of cuisine including Thai, Continental, Italian and Seafood as well as expertly mixed cocktails and fine wines. Feast is the all-day contemporary restaurant that offers an extensive menu ranging from Western to Chinese, Japanese and Indian, while for authentic Italian dishes, Giorgio’s is the place to go. We’d decided to book a table for later in the evening at Feast, which offers guests a stunning buffet over the weekend and right next to the river.
To build up an appetite, we took a walk outside and explored many of the neighbouring streets and alleyways. You don’t really need a map as you can wander down tiny alleys, pop into a local coffee shop or visit one of the many tourist attractions such as the Holy Rosary Church, Talat Noi Art Street, Rong Kuak Chinese Shrine, So Heng Tai Mansion and Baan Rim Naam café. We followed Soi Wanit all the way along until we reached the edges of Chinatown, a distance of just over two kilometres. At the nearby River City, you can find Co van Kessel Bangkok bicycle tours, which offers a one-of-a-kind trips to a different side of the city.
Although the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers is situated by the river, it is also close to some of the city’s best entertainment and shopping districts, as well as Hua Lamphong railway station, several subway and skytrain stops, and river taxis, which are only steps away on two adjacent public piers. Guests can easily jump on the public River Express Boat to visit the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Arun or opt to take the hotel’s shuttle boat to IconSiam.
Not only is the hotel a bucket list destination for visitors to Bangkok, it also combines a business element and offers over 4,000-square-metres of function space with 21 function rooms, many with river views. Meanwhile, the Royal Orchid Ballroom can accommodate up to 1,250 delegates in a meeting setting, 1,400 people for a cocktail reception or 800 people for a sit-down dinner and is perfect for all types of events and weddings, especially for loving couples who want to have a wedding ceremony in the garden.
For more information and reservations, call +66 (0) 2266 – 0123 or go to Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers.
Source: Punch Media Digital.