The one thing about Bangkok that I was expecting, was the steamy weather. It was almost like walking with a transportable mobile sauna. As I emerged outside of the arrival’s gate, the sweltering heat swarmed over me straight in the face, unapologetic at all.
I arrived at the peak Summer season in Thailand during mid-April, with temperatures that would be considered dangerous back in England. However, the plus side was that I stumbled into the final day of the Songkran Festival, a New Years equivalent in the Hindu/Buddhist solar calendar. With this celebration, it comes with water fights, and lots of it, in what would be the biggest legal water party I have ever seen. Bangkok was in a good mood, and will soak you until you drop.
And where did I take refuge from the humidity and water fighting during this trip? I have been itching to check out the Banyan Tree hotels after hearing rave reviews from friends who stayed at the other branches in Singapore and Bali. This hotel group was founded with the mission that it serves as a “sanctuary for the senses.” So my mind was made up and I was keen to see what the fuss was all about.
Despite being based in a hustle and bustling city like Bangkok, arrival at Banyan Tree felt like I was transported to an island and we had just stepped ashore. We were presented with jasmine bracelets and were led through the reception with warm Thai hospitality at every turn.
The room was beautifully decorated with minimalist dark oak wood furniture, as if I had just stepped into a Lom Bok showroom. The hotel had carefully incorporated the local cultural influences into the design and I was invariably left with ideas to recreate a similar style in my own home.
With double sliding doors, I almost fell head over heels with the size of the bathroom. There were two gorgeous black granite sinks (no sharing needed with Mr.New Yorker!), and the Banyan Tree signature essential oil diffuser were lit up everyday during turndown service. The bathtub, with a large jet stream through the middle to soak away the day, looked down at the street level below with everything in minuscule models. The Banyan Tree toiletry range smelled and felt amazing on the skin, with jasmine as an underlying scent in almost everything I used. With our lushly soft seaweed print slippers on, I was an absolutely convert to this zen-like experience.
Of course, I really wanted to venture out and see the taste and sounds of this urban city, to release my inner wanderlust. But the offerings at the lounge had convinced me to stop by for a snack from time to time. Breakfast buffet was on offer with every type of eggs being made, healthy yogurt and bircher muesli, juices from the exotic to the everyday, Asian congee, and even sushi. In the afternoon, tea was served with delicate cakes and desserts (although I never made it back in time to experience it, I blame the swimming pool for that). And in the evenings, there were tropical cocktails on demand with small cooked dishes that were scrumptious enough to be eaten as a meal.
If there was ever a day when I felt that I wanted to relax, the pool was my go to destination on the 21st floor. Overlooking the rest of Bangkok, there was a nice breeze at such a high altitude and Mr. New Yorker would be in a shade of golden brown within the hour. I don’t tan so easily, and that was probably why Mr. New Yorker called me “Casper”.
One surprise we found, which wasn’t much of a surprise to the rest of the city, was the abundance of stylish roof top bars with a view. The Banyan Tree has one of the best ones in the city, in the shape of a airship sailing into the abyss of sky above at 61 floors above ground level. Around sunset, make sure to come early and bag a coveted seat next to the edge, where the only thing between you and the world is a thin sheet of glass.
The favourite part of my stay, probably a reason that I will be back again and again to the Banyan Tree hotels was the quality of the spa. I was blown away by the sensory explosion which involved a rose petal foot bath, followed by 90 minutes of sheer bliss as the highly trained masseuse worked out every knot in my body. I left Bangkok renewed and looking forward to the time when I next return.