Before I visited Thailand and Cambodia, I had this idea of Bangkok being a mad, chaotic place with an oversaturation of high-rise buildings and barely any room to breathe. As with many cities in Asia, it is chaotic in parts. But when we checked into the Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort, I found a relaxing oasis of calm.
Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort, Thailand
I was staying at the Anantara as part of the #GoThailandGoAsean media trip with the Thailand and Cambodia Tourist Boards. We would spend eight days exploring the less trodden region of Eastern Thailand. We’d then cross the border to explore West and South Cambodia before flying from Phnom Penh back to Bangkok.
After an 11-hour flight from Heathrow (thankfully a very comfortable one in Thai Airways Royal Silk Class), it was a pleasure to start our travels with a relaxing stay at this five star hotel. I would highly recommend the Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort for either business or pleasure. Here’s why.
(By the way: a quick caveat before I go on. Yours truly managed to delete all her SLR photos of the hotel during her frantic downloading between camera and laptop on her travels. So yes, the neurotic photograph-taking-before-you-mess-up-the-room did take place, but the ones you see in this post are from my iphone and the best pictures are somewhere in trashcan cyberspace right now. Sorry about that. Amazing photos of the rest of Thailand and Cambodia are coming in other posts soon – promise)
The Hotel Rooms
The first thing that struck me about the Anantara Riverside Bangkok was just how big and spacious the hotel rooms are. As a general rule, you usually get more bang for your buck in Thailand and this is a perfect example of that. My room was a Junior Premier Suite. It had a huge king sized bed but it only took up a fraction of the room, which gives you an idea of how many square metres each guest gets (46sqm to be exact). Even the lowest tier room has 38sqm of space).
In the Junior Premier Suite, there’s a fantastic marble bathroom with a separate bath and spacious shower cubicle which matched the standards of some of the most prestigious hotels I’ve stayed in. Guests can enjoy a generous supply of towels and Anantara Spa toiletries (I loved the cedarwood and ginger soaps) and you get waffle bathrobes, slippers, bottled water and a spacious wardrobe complete with safety deposit box.
For those on business, there’s a separate desk and you also have a small balcony to sit on. My room didn’t have a great view, but if you ask in advance, you may be able to secure a room with a view over the Chao Phraya River. The bed and squashy pillows (and near-silent room) offered a very good nights sleep. There was also a kettle and Nespresso coffee making facilities, a lovely selection of tropical fruit on arrival and room service if you needed it. Oh, and they have a smart phone in every room which allows guests to make unlimited local calls and use built-in city guides. How cool is that? The complimentary Wifi also had a very good connection. It was available throughout the majority of the hotel, including the pool area.
The Hotel Interiors
Initially, we were supposed to be staying in the brand new Anantara hotel which adjoins this one but it wasn’t quite ready for bookings. It turns out, this wasn’t a bad thing. The new hotel has a sleek and contemporary interior, but the original Anantara which we stayed in has an old world charm about it. Yes, it was a bit dated in parts of the lobby, the carpeted corridors and function rooms. But the wooden carvings, water features and abundance of orchids made for a more traditional experience. The restaurant, coffee shop and reception desk all have a more modern design but the old-meets-new set up seems to work well. I hope it stays this way!
The Hotel Grounds
The hotel grounds are what makes the Anantara Riverside Bangkok so impressive – the name says it all. During your stay, you can enjoy sweeping views across Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River and the Rama III Bridge that links the West and East parts of the city. It’s nice to watch all sorts of vessels go by and you can actually hop on a boat to the Eastern side of the river. But more of that later.
The Swimming Pool
The hotel has a beautiful pool fringed by loads of tropical foliage, palms and ponds. As soon as I went down for a swim, the staff were on hand to find me a sun bed, towels and bottled water. Admittedly, I was melting in the afternoon hear within about half an hour. So you will probably find yourself doing more showering and swimming than sitting (although even the water is like a bath in the 40-degree heat!)
The setting here though is gorgeous and it’s a great hotel for both couples and families as there’s a children’s area in the pool, plus a jacuzzi too.
Elsewhere, you’ll find leafy walkways and various historic stone carvings and artefacts dotted around the place. At sundown, the riverfront cocktail bar creates a fabulous ambiance with various lanterns hanging from the trees.
Food and Drink
During our stay at the hotel, we attended a welcome dinner and drinks reception with the Thai Tourist Board to kick-start our 8-day tour. This was held at the new hotel I spoke about next door, so I didn’t sample the food at the Anantara Riverside Bangkok. The hotels are linked though so if the food here is anything to go by, I have no doubt the evening food at the Anantara is sublime. Over chicken skewers, sticky coconut rice, sushi and various moreish desserts I and the other journalists admired the views from the top floor balcony and made a toast with one (or two) glasses of wine to our upcoming trip. Oh, and Durian chips, it turns out, are actually quite nice.. (I still don’t like fresh durian though).
What I can tell you is there are six restaurants to choose from at the Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort. This includes the Japanese Teppanyaki steakhouse Benihana; Brio Italian restaurant, international cuisine at the Riverside Terrace and Pacific Rim cuisine and cocktails at the famous Trader Vic’s. As mentioned, there’s also a lovely coffee shop – Numero Uno – which sells all sorts of iced coffees, cakes and macarons.
The foodie highlight I can tell you about is the breakfast – oh the breakfast. In a nutshell, it’s phenomenal. I spent at least 10 minutes just walking around the various food stations spread across the restaurants. There’s so much food, it’s nigh impossible to decide what to eat. My advice? Try everything.
Inside the Terrace dining room, you will find a lovely display of tropical fruit, bread and cereals and a fantastic selection of pastries and ‘desserts’ (who says you can’t have fruit crumble for breakfast?). Outside, there are hot cooking stations offering Japanese, Chinese, Indian and Thai cuisine.
I tried the traditional Thai fluffy omelette known as a Kai Jiew with a side of spicy tomato sauce and jasmine rice. It might not be my usual breakfast choice, but it was good. Sorry, I correct myself, it was so good.
Nightlife & Getting Around
A good thing about staying at this hotel is it’s just 45 minutes from Suvarnabhumi International Airport and 20 minutes from Saphan Taksin skytrain station, where you can hop on a train to Bangkok’s best nighlife spots. To get to the train station, you can take a boat from the front of the hotel. In Bangkok, there are two boat options: the public commuter boat which is crowded but cheap, or the tourist Chao Phraya Express Boat which offers a day ticket for around 150 baht.
If you’re staying at the Anantara Riverside Bangkok I’d highly recommend you take the hotel shuttle boat to the East side of the river. It only takes 5 or 10 minutes and the best bit is it’s free of charge for hotel guests. They run every 30 minutes and you can hop off at Asiatique, an attractive open-air mall. It’s filled with a variety of market stalls, shops, riverside restaurants and bars. There were some live bands playing when we visited and where’s a ferris wheel if you fancy getting some sky high city views.
We sipped on a refreshing beer and enjoyed our first night in the ‘City of Angels’. First impressions? I liked this city a lot. You can make a holiday in Bangkok as wild or as relaxed as you like. And the Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort seems to be a brilliant place for doing both.