On our most recent trip to Bangkok, TLE were invited to learn more about the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and experience their famous Sala Rim Naam restaurant and Thai cultural evening.
In Bangkok, there is one luxury hotel that towers above all others in the city for its history, heritage and quality of service and that is the Mandarin Oriental.
Noted as Bangkok’s ‘first’ luxury hotel, the brand has had a long and interesting history. Established in 1876 as the ‘Oriental Hotel’ which was built to house the sailors who worked on the newly launched shipping routs between the far-east and Europe. It was also owned for a period of time during the 1950s by silk factory owner Jim Thomson (you can visit his home which is near Siam and I recommend worth seeing). It then combined with the Mandarin in Hong Kong in the 1970’s to form the world’s leading luxury hotel brand – the Mandarin Oriental.
It is also listed in Forbes Magazine five star rating category – not an easy task to achieve.
Positioned perfectly on the banks of the Chao Phraya River in the historically significant Charoen Krung area. The Mandarin Oriental was originally just the ‘Oriental’ until it merged with the Mandarin Hong Kong in the 1970’s to form the world’s leading luxury hotel brand.
The hotel is made up of 373 rooms and 35 suites and serviced by 1,020 staff. The Mandarin Oriental has one of the highest staff to guest ratios in the world at 4.5 staff to one guest.
9 restaurants, a spa, two pools and a bar with the city’s biggest collection of whiskey, a luxury shopping arcade, an entire team of flower designers, chocolatiers, butlers, chefs, doormen a limousine fleet – the list goes on, keep the hotel and guests in the highest degree of luxury.
The hotel likes to call itself an ‘Oriental Family’ and in more ways that one is this true – a home from home feeling is why so many guests come time and time again, expect little touches like staff remembering and knowing your name – you won’t find this at other hotels. But the hotel is also a family for many who work there and dedicate a lifetime to serving the hotels guests.
When you arrive at the hotel perfectly tailored doormen greet you with a smile and open the doors into the grand lobby. If you arrive in the evening you will be greeted by the sound of classical music playing by the live orchestra. Directly in the lobby entrance way you will see the everlasting flowers of love. This flower arrangement is meticulously maintained and includes over 400’000 fresh flowers.
The lobby is also home to the hotel’s shop, which sells their famous macaroons and confections (they also sell their confectionery in outlets around the city including Siam Paragon). The photo above might look like a designer bag but it is infact almost entirely made out of a sugar, you can see the talents of the confectionery team are extraordinary.
Bamboo is the hotel’s main bar and this cosy area is a place you can escape away in the evening. Come in the evening or after work to listen to live jazz and have a cocktail it is something quite special.
The hotel has a large number of restaurants, including Lord Jim’s Restaurant which serves seafood, Veranda their outdoor Italian restaurant, Le Normandie their flagship French restaurant, Sala Rim Naam and the China House.
The China House restaurant really caught my attention when I first arrived at the hotel. It is positioned outside the hotel entrance, and inside it is simply stunning, virtually all the tables are booths surrounding a square central courtyard.
The hotel’s outdoor space plays a core part of the hotel’s charm. The Spa, Cooking School and Sala Rim Naam restaurant are located across the Chao Praya River which you can take one of their frequent running water boats to, super romantic in the evening as the boats are lit up. The pier will also take you quickly up to Saphan Taksin BTS stop for convenience and Asiatique shopping mall as well.
The hotel’s two outdoor pools are relaxed and chilled, I liked the long infinity style pool, which looks out to the river and has enclosed day beds to keep you out of the sun.
You can still see the original Oriental Hotel, which now houses the author-suites, the authors lounge which pays homage to the wealth of literary names that have stayed at the hotel over the years. You can even stay in the Noel Coward suite.
The hotel offers 373 rooms and 35 suites. Because of the layout of the hotel all rooms have a view of the river.
Rooms are decorated in a traditional elegance, dark rich wooden walls and floors keep the rooms rich and warm in colour and marble finished bathrooms complete the elegant look.
The hotel has not looked to technology to drive interest in the brand, unlike other luxury hotels in the city which have all the latest gadgets in your room, the MO sticks with timeless classic style – including old school keys for the doors.
Sala Rim Naam
We are invited to Sala Rim Naam’s daily evening of food and dance. Start the evening off by crossing the Chao Phrya River to the Sala Rim Naam restaurant which lies on the other side of the river next to the hotel’s spa and cooking school.
The evening is a fun and tasty way to learn more about Thailand’s history of dance, food and Muay Thai boxing.
A set menu made up of multiple smaller dishes offers a wide range of traditional Thai tastes to explore are served as the show progresses. For vegetarians there is an entire vegetarian menu, which is as equally creative as the meat and fish menu.
The dishes start off small, but trust me they keep coming and you will be full by the end of the evening.
The show is made up of around 5 sets of dances, each from different regions of Thailand – traditional music is played by a live band and a fun finalie is the Muay Thai boxing show – they don’t box for real, rather pretend box, but you get the point.
Facts and Costs
Sala Rim Naam is open to both hotel guests and non-residents and costs Bht 1,999. If you are new to Thai culture and want an immersive experience with food included it’s a great evening and certainly a beautiful setting.
Address: 48 Oriental Ave, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500, Thailand
Phone: +66 2 659 9000