Wow, it has been six days since my last entry. My longest break from Xanga in a long, long time, and one that was very much enjoyed. So much of my work is done on the computer that when I combine it with recreational computer use, it seems like I’m plugged in online too much of my time. The weekend completely unplugged and week mostly away from recreational computer use has reminded me of the importance of establishing some boundaries in terms of how much, and when, I use computers and the internet.
As for the two-night staycation at the Peninsula Hotel on the west side of the river here in Bangkok, it was fantastic. The hotel truly is world-class with wonderful service. It is very easy to spend three days in a cocoon and not really feel like you’re in the heart of the city, although from the balcony of the room, you could see that we were.
Upon check-in we were upgraded from the “Deluxe” room (funny how the lowest grade of room is usually given a fancy name) to a balcony room, which is two rungs up the ladder. All the rooms in the hotel face the river, laid out along one side of a W-shaped floor plan. Our room was very spacious, about 60 square meters or about 600 square feet. There was a separate walk-in closet/dressing room and then a large bathroom beyond the bedroom, making it feel especially spacious.
The Chao Phraya River runs past most of the nicest hotels in the city, including the Shangri-La (pictured here), Sheraton, Oriental, Hilton, Peninsula, and Marriott Resort. For sightseeing, the location of these hotels is a little less convenient. But if you’re staying at one of these places you can probably afford to hire a car and driver for the day, so convenience isn’t that much of a problem.
The hotel has a gorgeous swimming area, spa (the building behind the pool), and workout facility. The first afternoon we headed down to the pool but a typical afternoon thunderstorm quickly blew in, with winds gusting in advance of the rain, causing umbrellas to overturn and towels and chair pads to go flying into the pool. The remainder of the weekend had gorgeous weather, though, and we spent much of Saturday afternoon laying in the shade below one of these pavilions, sipping mango smoothies and reading.
The hotel’s interior design is very beautiful. Clean lines with an Asian theme but not in an overwhelming “Oriental” way.
The main lobby, where we stopped for a pre-dinner drink the first night, is very comfortable.
Even the public hallways, this one leading to the River Cafe and Terrace, are tastefully decorated with live orchids.
Friday evening we ate outdoors alongside the river. The full moon was rising just behind the tower at the Shangri-La Hotel. I’m amazed by how busy the river is even well into the evening.
Our room rate included a set dinner for two but since their occupancy is fairly low, they were serving a buffet. It was actually a cleverly done buffet, offering a large range of prepared dishes that could be served at or near room temperature – salads, cold cuts, etc. – with soups, fresh seafood, a wide selection of breads, etc. to round it out.
The main feature was their grill. They offered a wide range of meats from seafood to satay to fine cuts of beef, lamb, and pork, grilled to order and served with a variety of sauces. This is actually a very smart way to do a buffet as there is much less waste.
My selections included a cut of snowfish grilled in a foil pouch with ginger and other seasonings, a very tender cut of Wagyu beef, and some foie gras.
There was a large dessert bar in the center of the dining room featuring all sorts of desserts and fresh fruit. There were three flavors of homemade ice cream including both raspberry and mango sorbets that were amped up with flavor.
A selection of desserts: a raspberry mousse, a ginger creme brulee, green tea and chocolate-orange macarons, and an interesting twist on sticky rice and mango that included a mango mousse.
Both evenings we retired to the room to watch episodes from season two of True Blood, the southern vampire series based on the novels by Charlaine Harris. Since we don’t have HBO here in Thailand, we haven’t been able to watch the series in real time. And since I generally don’t want to support piracy, I’ve waited patiently until the episodes were released on iTunes Store instead of buying them on the street.
The breakfast buffet was also included, featuring just about everything you might want for both Asian and Western style breakfasts, including to-order egg dishes.
The pastries were really nice. Could I just have eaten one of everything and called it a day?
The bread was amazing, perhaps the best European style bread I’ve found in Bangkok. They also served raw honey fresh from the honeycomb, with the comb hanging on the table with the honey dripping down a trough and into a bowl.
Enjoyinga healthy breakfast! The service was very attentive and we got into a discussion with one of the restaurant managers about the silver tea service they use, a design that Tawn has had his eye on. The manager took his name and number and called him a few days after the trip, connecting him with an unofficial resource to buy his own set. Shhh! Don’t tell anyone.
The tropical fruits were the finishing touch, though. I don’t know where they buy their fruits but the mangos were the tastiest, sweetest mangos I’ve eaten in Thailand and the dragonfruit, which I usually find quite bland, was actually full of flavor.
By the time we checked out Sunday at noon, we had de-stressed quite a bit, promising ourselves that we would do more weekend getaways in the months to come. What’s the point of living in a tropical paradise if you don’t get out to enjoy it?