I’m not someone who generally prioritizes staying in luxury hotels when I travel. Unless I’m going somewhere where the hotel is basically the destination (like Bora Bora), I’d rather stay somewhere more modest and put the savings toward another trip. But Southeast Asia is ridiculously affordable for someone coming from the United States, and when I found out that we could stay at the venerable Peninsula in Bangkok for less than I’ve paid for some Hampton Inns in the US…well, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
Despite the budget price tag, we certainly had the full luxury hotel experience. Not only is the hotel physically as beautiful as you would expect a luxury property to be, it has the stellar service to match. It seemed like the staff was constantly anticipating our every need and was doing everything they could to ensure our stay was flawless.
Our room was well-appointed and tastefully decorated in an elegant, wood-paneled style. When we checked in there was a basket of fresh fruit and madeleines with chocolate dipping sauce waiting for us, which was just what we needed after more than 24 hours of travel.
The all-marble bathroom was enormous and had everything one could want, including standard amenities such as a soft robe and slippers and not-so-standard (to me, anyway) ones like a built-in TV above the bathtub.
I used Visa Signature’s luxury hotel reservation service, and the experience was just as great as last time. I selfishly kind of want to keep this program a secret because I suspect that as word gets out and more people start to use it, the quality of the perks will inevitably decline. But for now at least, it’s a phenomenal deal that gives you the best publicly available rate, plus a whole slew of insider perks. For starters, we were upgraded from the Deluxe room I had booked to a Grand Balcony room that had a gorgeous view of Bangkok, especially at a night.
Continental breakfast is included if you book with Visa and the Peninsula Bangkok gave us the full breakfast buffet for free. The breakfast here is one of the best I’ve ever had at a hotel. There was a stunning amount of choice, from pastries that tasted like they came straight from a bakery in Paris to solid renditions of American favorites like omelettes and waffles to Asian dishes like noodles and fried rice. Between the heat and how much I stuffed myself at breakfast, I actually didn’t eat any other meals in Bangkok.
We also received all the other advertised Visa Signature perks, including a complimentary 3 pm check-out and a $25 food and beverage credit, which my husband spent at their gorgeous waterfront restaurant, Thiptara.
The public areas are as lovely as the rooms. The tiered pool is the centerpiece of the hotel grounds and is a wonderful place to relax and escape from the chaos and heat of the city. There’s a mix of shade and sun on both the pool deck and in the pool itself, and the water is very warm.
The hotel’s also has an elegant lobby overlooking the river. I wish I had made time to have afternoon tea here.
The decor was right up my alley: there are plants and fresh flowers, especially purple orchids, everywhere and (of course) lots of elephants.
My favorite piece of art was the elephant dressed up like a Peninsula pageboy. So cute!
The hotel’s location is perfect for exploring Bangkok. They operate free shuttle boats across the river to the Saphan Taksin station, where you can hop a ferry boat up the river to the Old City or get on the skytrain to go anywhere else in the city. These boats run essentially on demand and we never had to wait more than a couple of minutes for one. The fact that we crossed the river to come “home” every day gave a feeling of separation from the city that I really enjoyed, without adding any significant amount of transit time to our day.
I really couldn’t have asked for a better Bangkok hotel experience and am now eager to stay at Peninsula hotels in other cities…I guess I’ll have to start saving!