Hotels we love: the Banyan Tree in Bangkok
I love Bangkok. It’s easily one of my favorite cities of all time and the type of place I love coming back to again and again. Bangkok was the first stop on my one year trip around the world back in 2005. Like any 23 year old backpacker I headed straight for Khao San Road, home of the budget traveler, haven for banana pancakes and $5 hotel rooms. The very first night I ever spent in the Thai capital this was my room:
Granted you couldn’t expect a whole lot more for $4 a night. I can, however, in all honesty say that that was the worst hotel room I’ve ever had to sleep in. Luckily a lot has happened and so 8 years and several return trips later back to the bustling hub that is Bangkok I recently found myself in this room:
Quite the upgrade isn’t it? This is a photo of a Club Room at the popular Banyan Tree resort hotel, notorious for locals and tourists alike for its spectacular views from the bar and terrace up on the 61st floor, but more on that later. I wanted to introduce you to the Banyan Tree because it’s one of those hotels where even people with a normal holiday budget get to feel like high-ranking business officials with penthouse views and celebrity treatment, all from just $120 per night.
Now I get to travel about 8 months out of the year and much of the time I stay in beautiful hotels, so naturally my standards have risen quite a bit and I pay particular attention to quality, upkeep and service when I stay somewhere new. On all accounts I can say that the Banyan Tree has completely convinced me which is why I’d like to warmly recommend it to you today.
It all starts with arriving at the premises. A smiley porter in a cute costume opens the door to our cab as another one writes down the cab’s licence plate and shines a flashlight on the backseat after we get out, making sure we don’t leave anything behind (Back in July I left my iPhone in the back of a cab and it was never to be seen again. Service of this caliber would have come in very handy back then). Someone takes our bags and hands us a flower bracelet. As we walk into the generous lobby, we are greeted with a soothing flowery aroma in the air and the silent tunes of a live jazz band – instantly it feels like we’ve arrived at a spa retreat. Someone comes to great us with a welcome drink before taking us to our room.
It’s already late but there is enough time for a hot bath overlooking the city before we head up to the 61st floor for our dinner reservation at one of Bangkok’s most talked about restaurants - Vertigo.
I really cannot rave enough about our experience here. It’s a definite highlight of any trip to the city and a place I will want to go back to every time I return to Bangkok. We chose a four course menu, every course came with 4 delicious options we could select from beforehand. Anything your seafood and meat-loving heart desires can be found here, not a single flavor is short of extraordinary. Each dish came accompanied with a different glass of wine, often there were tiny in between courses or greetings from the kitchen, I’ve rarely felt more pampered than during the 2 hours we spent on that rooftop. At one point our adorable waiter came along with a camera mounted on a tripod and told us to smile. By the end of dinner he gave us the printed photo as a souvenir at no extra cost. Everyone really went out of their way to ensure we had a great time, the entire experience seemed like it should have cost hundreds of dollars but the set menu only cost a very reasonable $80, absolutely worth it.
Vertigo is only one of 5 restaurants in the resort, all of them living up to gourmet standards and specializing in Japanese, Thai, Chinese or Fusion cuisine. For the full list of options check out the Banyan Tree website.
Speaking of food, I’d like to relate another experience that astounded me with regard to the fabulous service we received at Banyan Tree. At our first breakfast here, located at the lower level Romsai restaurant, which comes with a beautiful backdrop of a giant rock garden behind gigantic glass walls, we were given a rate card, something that is given to many guests to ensure an ongoing quality control and monitor guest satisfaction as part of the hotel’s wish-fulfillment policy. We were asked how we enjoyed breakfast and whether we would improve anything. While we did like our breakfast for the most part we would have loved a slightly wider selection of cold cuts, some granola and maybe some optional made to order pancakes. We thought it was a nice touch to ask our opinion but we would not have dreamed of what happened the following day. Not only did next day’s breakfast dish up granola, there were also 3 new types of cold cuts and a few extra cheeses. When the kitchen chef came to our table to enquire whether he could make us something fresh, say pancakes for example, I was as speechless as I was grateful. For the record, if you fancy yourself some pan-asian breakfast the selection at Romsai is hard to beat.
Finally the award-winning spa is the one thing the Banyan Tree is famous for, even locals flock here and booking ahead is essential. Like with everything else at the Banyan Tree getting a massage, facial or any other beauty treatment here is a full experience that begins with a welcome drink and ends with a half hour relaxation over hot tea and fruit salad. All therapists are highly skilled and very friendly making it easy to completely unwind and relax. Adjacent to the spa is the pool area, great for those who like the thrill of going for a swim on the 26th floor. Of course there are also the usual fitness center, sauna and steam room free to use for hotel guests and spa users.
The Banyan Tree is the tallest all-suite luxury hotel in Bangkok located right in Sathorn business district, just a short walk from Sala Daeng skytrain station connecting you to all parts of Bangkok. Whether you check into one of their 327 rooms or just come to enjoy a drink at one of their open air bars, the Banyan Tree should always be a stopover on your Thailand itinerary.