Bangkok is renowned for its colourful Thai culture, Buddhist temples and above all, its traffic! One experience that’s almost impossible to avoid is getting across town from your hotel to the tourist attractions. With time a precious commodity on any holiday, there is a solution. One we were invited to experience for ourselves on a recent trip to this hot, humid and exciting city.
Chatrium Riverside Hotel
The Chatrium Riverside Hotel is, as the name suggests, located on the east of the Chao Phraya River that snakes its way through the heart of Bangkok. Built in 2008, it’s a modern and stylish luxury hotel in Bangkok. Thanks to the 2nd State Expressway nearby, access to this part of town is fairly fast and easy and the 3 huge 36 storey towers that make up the Chatrium complex are easy to spot once you’re on the busy urban streets nearby. 2 of the towers are the Chatrium Residences, serviced apartments available for purchase and rent, the 3rd tower closest to the river’s edge is the hotel. We were greeted by security with a smile and helped with our bags to reception. They call Thailand “the land of smiles” and that certainly rings true here. First impressions always count in the hotel industry and it set the tone nicely. We were guided to our room by a member of the reception staff and went up in the surprisingly quick elevator to the 28th floor.
Grand suite room
The hotel has a total of 396 rooms with 14 on each level. We had a corner suite, some 60 square metres and in an unusual yet pleasing angular shape. The room featured everything I’d expect and a whole lot more besides. A kitchenette with enough facilities to cook a decent meal, large fridge and freezer. The lounge had a large flat screen TV and stereo too. A comfortable sofa with some great evening lighting, something that really transformed the room from a hotel suite to a “home”. The large sliding windows to the angular balcony means the stunning view of the city and river can be viewed from either the cool air-conditioned environment of the sofa or out on the humid balcony, especially good during sunset.
Bedroom and Bathroom
The real highlight of the suite was definitely the bedroom and bathroom combination. Not something I usually would club together but this one is a little special. The large shower in the bathroom has glass walls on 2 sides, one is a door in to the bathroom of course, the other is in to the bedroom with electric blinds should you wish for privacy. The reason for this unusual feature becomes clear when you pull back the floor to ceiling curtains of the bedroom to reveal a breathtaking view of the city scape with the river down below. Two walls of the bedroom on the suites are glass allowing for near panoramic views. The fact that you can admire this view while taking a shower just added to the impressive room layout and styling. Ingenious design in hotels is always something worth crediting. It’s the kind of hotel room that makes you say “Do I really have to go out?”.
Thankfully it’s worth leaving the room occasionally as another way to enjoy the view is down on the 6th floor at the Chatrium Riverside’s pool and outdoor bar area. The pool features a rounded end and some interesting statues too. You also get a great view of the hotel building with its angled corners and large legs lifting it high above the pool which is itself above the conference and function rooms. There’s ample beds and even a separate jacuzzi pool. A morning by the pool was a must and the poolside bar had a great selection of dishes for lunch with plenty of seating. There’s even wifi out here if working in Bangkok’s humid climate is really your thing.
On the top floor (36th) you’ll find a Chinese restaurant, bar and the executive lounge. The views are, as you’d expect, quite stunning and the dim sum up here is well worth trying. There’s a nice lounge atmosphere up here and the happy hour helps quench the thirst without burning the wallet.
Dinner with a “wow” factor
The River Barge restaurant was for us a frequent venue, not only for breakfast each morning but to sample the recently created “Wow!” buffet. Devised by Executive Chef Andrew Brown, each day sees a different speciality presented in a number of offerings. On our night it was Australian Lamb, with around 6 different types to choose from and possible styles of cooking. They also do, prawn, lobster and Wagyu beef evenings but don’t be fooled in to thinking it’s just those dishes. We were surprised to see just what a huge range of food was available, all kinds of starters from japan to india, salads to curries. Almost 20 types of desserts too and the free flow option on drinks is a must as you’ll want to pace yourself for this meal. It’s best to spend at least 2 or 3 hours chatting and occasionally nibbling on all manner of international cuisine. The Lamb was wonderfully succulent and the BBQ chef even taught us a thing or two about the best cuts and ways to cook them.
Getting around the city
It’s all very well having a great hotel but getting about and seeing the sights is what we really came for and testing out the Chatrium’s location is a key part of the stay. One of the hotel’s greatest features is without doubt its private shuttle boat service. A beautiful looking boat takes guests from the jetty at the hotel, down the river just 5 minutes to one of Bangkok’s major boat terminals. From here you can get another boat to famous sights such as Wat Pho and the Grand Palace. There’s also the Saphan Tak Sin station of the Sky Train, taking you to all manner of shopping and tourist districts within 15 minutes. Thanks to the Chatrium’s boat there’s easy access to most of the city. To prove a point we ventured out to Wat Pho by river, arriving at our destination in 30 minutes from the hotel. On our way back we took a taxi, the usual mode of transport for sight-seeing. The journey took 1 hour. The boat was also a total of 120 Baht for our group rather than the 250THB spent on the cab.
We had a great stay at the Chatrium and it was an unexpected pleasure to view Bangkok and its sights in a different way. My major issue with Bangkok has always been its traffic so finding a new way to get around and a well located hotel to enjoy has been a real treat.