Thailand enjoys a long-established reputation for offering an incredible range of accommodation options. There is something to suit all budgets, from basic bungalows to hi-so hotels and everything in between. In this round-up of high-end hotels, South African travel writer Dawn Jorgensen picks out five of the most luxurious hotels in Thailand.
Bangkok: Mandarin Oriental
For more than 144 years, travellers have followed the Chao Phraya River to stay at the legendary Mandarin Oriental Bangkok. Following the largest renovation in their long history, the iconic five-star hotel has reopened the River Wing. A stunning transformation that has further enhanced the accommodation and facilities, while maintaining their classic, Thai-influenced elegance and unique style.
The best of the best is the Ambassador Suite, a secluded two-bedroom sanctuary located in the original Oriental Hotel. Lavishly decorated in shades of greens and white, this exclusive 173-square-metre suite exudes luxuriant sophistication, with beautiful views from the private Victorian-inspired glass conservatory towards the river.
The hotel’s Oriental Spa provides relaxing massage treatments, hot tubs and herbal scrubs. For a refreshing workout, guests can exercise with a personal trainer at the gym or enjoy a game of tennis and Thai boxing. The famous Le Normandie, a two-Michelin-starred restaurant, offers fine French dining, while The China House offers authentic Cantonese cuisine in a stylish setting. Kinu by Takagi restaurant serves a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. International cuisine and fresh seafood are served at Lord Jim’s.
Bangkok: Siam Kempinski
The Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok is noted to be one of Bangkok’s more opulent accommodation options. Located in the heart of the city, the 5-star luxury hotel is linked by a covered walkway to the famous Siam Paragon shopping mall. Each of the 397 luxurious rooms and suites is decorated with traditional Thai accents, most include private balconies overlooking the hotel’s lush green gardens and swimming pool. There are three restaurants and bars, including the award-winning Michelin one-star Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin. The luxury spa and health club are a haven for guests seeking total relaxation and a reprieve from the bustling city.
The majestic Royal Suite on the 16th floor is the most indulgent of their offering. At 330 square metres, it is also one of the largest private suites in Bangkok and eminently suited to superbly lavish living. A huge outdoor terrace provides an extension of space and unsurpassed views across the skyscape. The lounge and three bedrooms are styled in muted calming colours. You also have your own private everything, including a jacuzzi, massage room, bar, kitchen, private gym and study. The good news is that the minibar is complimentary, as is the breakfast, all-day refreshments, afternoon tea and evening cocktails, which are served in the Executive Lounge.
Rayavadee is situated in the heart of Krabi’s beautiful Phranang Peninsula on the border of the Krabi Marine National Park, an area renowned for its natural beauty and rich flora, fauna and marine life. When the resort was built more than two decades ago, it was with the idea of creating one of Thailand’s most luxurious hotels that was in balance with the protected environment. Tucked discreetly amidst tropical gardens and coconut groves against a backdrop of sheer cliffs, lush jungle foliage and the clear waters of the Andaman Sea, are the resort’s 94 two-storey pavilions and 7 luxurious villas. All are just a few minutes’ walk from the famous Railay and Phra Nang Beaches.
The pavilion’s unique design and award-winning architecture blend perfectly with the natural surroundings, whilst the villas offer an added dimension of luxury and space, each with dedicated butler service. The Phranang Villas are discreetly hidden in an annexe, a five-minute walk down the beach from the main resort, offering a private pool, master bedroom with ensuite bath and two additional en suite guest bedrooms, it is luxury personified.
From Rayavadee kayak through the pristine mangrove forest, scale a rock wall with a private climbing instructor, hike to the waterfall, learn to scuba dive from your own private dive boat and discover the art of Thai cooking. Of course, the spa should not be overlooked.
Chiang Mai: 137 Pillars House
Undeniably one of the most luxurious options in Chiang Mai, the 137 Pillars House boutique hotel is a nostalgic blend of history, Thai architecture and sleek modern design, with wonderful dining, an indulgent spa and an inviting swimming pool. Located on expansive grounds in the Wat Gate district, it offers a home-from-home among the manicured lawns and towering trees, with daybeds discreetly placed for added relaxation. No surprise given that this graceful 1889 property was once owned by Louis Leonowens, son of Anna of ‘Anna and the King’ fame.
There are 30 luxurious suites named after the founders of the Borneo Trading Co. The Louis Leonowens Pool Suite is the most luxurious and offers an incredibly spacious ground floor option with generous living rooms and king-style bedrooms. The en-suite bathroom includes a sunken bath and overlooks a tropical garden with separate indoor and outdoor garden showers and a private swimming pool.
The lovingly restored teak homestead, around which the hotel is built, dates back to a time when it was the office of the northern headquarters of the British East Borneo Trading Company, which worked in forestry in the surrounding hills. Eat in the Dining Room for the finest Thai and Lanna cuisine prepared with organic ingredients. Enjoy hand-crafted classic and contemporary cocktails at Jack Bain’s bar and savour the epicurean art of gourmet cuisine at Palette. Afternoon Tea is served in the gardens or the Parlor of Baan Borneo House.
Phuket: The Racha
The Racha, one of Thailand’s premier deluxe island hideaways, is set on a pristine white beach on Racha Island, just 30 minutes by speedboat from Phuket’s Chalong Bay. The island is renowned for its natural beauty, excellent coral and marine life. Spread over eight hectares of verdant tropical grounds and built in low-rise harmony with the environment, there are 85 villas in eight category types, each ensuring every creature comfort is considered.
The Racha Lighthouse is one of the world’s more unique living spaces. This superbly private five-story structure has a light-filled living room leading out to a sun-drenched pool. Accommodations include two exquisite master bedrooms on the two lowest floors, both with gorgeous bathrooms and Jacuzzi tubs, and two single rooms that share an outdoor bathroom. On top, the magnificent observation deck with 360-degree views towards Racha Yai and the Andaman Sea is a heavenly spot to pause.
The five-star Racha Dive Center provides personalised scuba instruction and trips to the Andaman Sea’s most beautiful sites. Choose to kayak, snorkel the island’s reefs, learn Thai craft making, or hike the island. For those preferring serenity, connect with nature while strolling the resort’s grounds, swim in three ozonated pools, peruse the library, or indulge in treatments at The Racha’s famed Anumba Spa. Alternatively, there’s the luxury of simply watching the world go by.
Dawn JorgensenThe Incidental Tourist
An advocate of sustainable travel, Dawn’s mantra is ‘Travel Better. Not Less’. Dawn is an award-winning travel writer who has frequently travelled to Thailand. When she’s not on the road, Dawn lives in Cape Town.
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