I promised that the next blog would be all street art, food and shop houses, as we venture our way to Penang (Malaysia) next week. But there is a place in Bangkok that has carved a little soft spot in our Harts and it goes by the name of The Anantara. Too beautiful to ignore, and way too jammy not to share, let us take you down the Chao Praya River to a place where the jasmine fills the corridors and pool happy hour is one hour only, so be quick!
Take the free shuttle boat from Saphan Taxin pier and cruise along the river. Although this river has a tinge of grey and sometimes the waft of an old Thai curry, it’s authentic. On a clear day the Chao Praya (pronounced ch/a/w p/r/ai/yaaaaah) is rather majestic. We try and nab seats at the back and get the full view of the scenery.
Unfortunately Bangkok is really suffering from pollution at the moment, so the day we went was not a clear day. It’s funny that the pictures make it look cold, but I can assure you that the heat was still on and the sweat was real.
Despite the grey above and the grey/green/murkiness below, we think that sailing up to this grand hotel is quite beautiful, characterised by the terracotta tiles and the hanging purple fauna. You truly feel like you have left the bustle of the city behind and have arrived at a serene oasis.
So we have stayed here twice. The first time, we stayed in a river view room and had sweeping views across the river and the pool, with our own little balcony. This was a free upgrade from the standard room and we thought we had hit the jackpot. The second time we stayed, however, was a little different. Firstly, we were staying for Will’s 30th birthday, so it was extra special. Secondly, there were a few problems with payment. Either I had no money left or there were issues with my Thai card and it’s ability to make online payments. Luckily it was the latter. The Anantara were very understanding about this, and let us pay on the day. As I handed over the card…
“Thank you. Payment okay, ka”
“Oh thank you so much. I was worried that it wouldn’t work again”
“No, no problem.. We have a prepared a surprise in your room. Happy birthday”
“(Whispering) Oh I think someone might have cake…”
“What did you go and tell them?”
“That is was your birthday, of course!”
We followed the lady to our room- in the annex to the left, as you are facing the river. We walked past some interesting art work on route. The lady spoke amazing English, putting our Thai to utter shame.
She wanted to know whether we had been before, our plans for our stay, how long we have lived in Bangkok, if we would be back etc etc. Turning the corner, we approached a door separate to all of the others.
“This is your room, ka”
Swinging the door open, the first view of our room was a corridor. A corridor? Inside our room? Walking down, we spied a dining table to the left and then a vast space with a sofa, coffee table, arm chairs and double doors that opened right out across the river. The bedroom was nowhere to be found, until we turned another corner to find the fluffiest king-size bed, seasoned with flower petals and an original piece of Thai art hanging proudly above the headboard. To the left was a bathroom with a bath, rain shower and all the luxuries. We had been bestowed with The Anantara Suite.
The wrap around balcony was breathtaking at morning, noon and night.
The Anantara, like all five-star hotels, offer a turn down service. At 7pm our doorbell rang, and a man from the hotel was waiting outside. Did we want this service? Of course! We tipped him and after he left, we found our bed like this (spot the artwork):
The suite was perhaps one of the most luxurious spaces we have ever stayed in. It got the stamp of Honeymoon approval, that is for sure. Feeling slightly smug, we ordered a lot of food and drink to our room and pretended we were skinny celebrities with cash to splash and waistlines to fill. Neither true, but we spent some dollar and got fat anyway. In case you were wondering, we did get the surprise birthday cake…
See that room service above? We ordered a nicoise salad, a hand-stretched pizza from Brio Italian and a kids mac and cheese. This was a rather embarrassing order, as the Anantara questioned who our child was. We checked in as two adults and now we were ordering from the kids menu… The mac and cheese was unreal.
The Anantara has exceeded our expectations on two occasions. As a side note, there are Anantara hotels all over Thailand. We have had afternoon tea at Anantara Siam, and friends have stayed at Anantara Si Kao and the Anantara Koh Samui. They never seem to miss a trick on luxury, hospitality and that scent. What is it? That divine nostril infusion! The Anantara Koh Samui is particularly special as my sister got engaged there in July 2017. The Anantara is a true family affair!
We love the Anantara Riverside for showing off it’s huge pool right in the middle of the hotel, surrounded by sun loungers, umbrellas and wildlife. We once saw a monitor lizard just hanging out nearby. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but I was there with the Go Pro talking to it in my cat voice, trying to get it’s beady eyes my way.
The swim-up pool is also one of the perks of this particular hotel. We swam up at 2:55, nicely perched for happy hour from 3pm until 4pm. A strange time for happy hour, and very short, but hats off to the Anantara for even offering this bargain deal. Frozen margaritas for us please. One Margarita = extra strong. We ordered pool-side snacks to keep us sober and from sinking in the seriously deep lagoon-like pool.
Although we ate in our room, ahem suite, for our nights stay, there are loads of places to eat around the hotel. You can even go on a cruise and eat on one of the Anantara boats down the river. All the food is more expensive than what you would usually pay, but not extortionate. We love Brio, the Italian restaurant on site. The caf (unsure of the name) also served us up some delicious salads and sandwiches. We resisted cake. Besides, we had our free one upstairs.
Okay, okay this is why we really love the Anantara. Cue, the breakfast. Think of all of your favourite things for breakfast in one place. Here are some of the things you can get your chops into:
- Cheese and biscuits
- Pancakes, croissants, muffins, waffles, bread pudding
- Cold meats, pickled onions and chutneys
- Omelettes, fried eggs, boiled eggs
- Full English- baked beans, mushrooms, potatoes
- Smoothies, juices, infused water
- Granola, yogurt, bircher muesli
- Fresh fruit- watermelon, papaya, pineapple, passion fruit
- Indian- chicken korma, dahl, biriyani
- Dim sum
- Home-made jams, spreads and honey from the honeycomb
I am sure the list could go on. I spend most of my time at breakfast doing laps around the food stations, panicking that I won’t get all the things I want in time. I look and walk, look and walk, go back and look, then walk a bit more craning my neck to look back again. I look at his plate, look at her plate, look at their plates, then I look at my plate and realise that I have a plate of cheese and sushi with a pancake on the side… What is this? I told Will off for his assortment of different foods, but mine were just as random and just as weird.
The riverside location for breakfast adds a sense of calm to the breakfast chaos.
Check out is always a sad time, but the good news for us is that we can go back again for the time that we are over here. One day we would like to take friends and family to the Anantara, especially now that we are suite-staying regulars and have heard that Trader Vics on site does a great Sunday brunch. Our second stay was especially memorable thanks to The Anantara suite, the room service, fireworks on the river and the kids mac and cheese. What a wonderful 30th Birthday for William Hart. Thanks Anantara!
Have you stayed at an Anantara Hotel? I would love to read about your experiences or tips, or any other comments you may have. Please like, friends and family (if you like us). Thanks for reading and for catching up with the Harts.