F Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok: Pearl by the Chao Phraya River - jeepneyjinggoy

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok: Pearl by the Chao Phraya River

Dwarfed by grandeur. The lobby of the Shangri-La Wing of Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

It’s like those pearl earrings you instinctively pick up when rushing to an occasion, the piece has never let you down since the day you acquired it, wore it for the first time and years after. Your “investment” piece transcends generations and rises above fashion. Elegance always does. 

It’s the same aura that embraces you when you step inside the Shangri-La Hotel in Bangkok. 

Built in the late 20th century with harmony, tranquillity and elegance as inspiration, the walls and halls of the hotel whispers of East meets West luxury and sophistication of the era it was built in, when grand was the design trend and everything was served generously: space, murals, marble, carved panels of wood, richly-colored carpeting brightened by chandeliers. It still does to this day even with the integration of New World necessities to appeal to today’s discriminating guests. The new developments gave a fresh, modern appeal to Bangkok Shangri-La’s timeless classicism. 

Ensconced between the two towers—the 1986-inaugurated, 25-storey Shangri-La Wing (673 rooms), and the more exclusive 1991-opened Krungthep Wing (129 rooms), each with its own reception and lobby—is a lush tropical garden displaying exotic flowers like orchids, birds of paradise and bougainvillea, towering palm trees. It’s the verdant backdrop to the pool area set by the riverside. 

The Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok by the Chao Phraya River

The Shangri-La Wing's reception area

The grand lobby seen from the mezzanine floor

This look of the 20th floor elevator landing

It may not have been my first time to reside by the famed Chao Phraya River, but somehow Shangri-La made it feel like it was my first. I believe it had something to do with how the river was framed – thrice. 

Yes, I had three breathtaking views of the “River of Kings” from my 20th-floor corner room, one from the bay window at the foot of my bed, the terrace and the picture window by the bathtub of the spacious, white-marble bathroom. The “kinetic artworks,” which displays a moving (in every sense of the word) riverside scenery of today’s Bangkok, was like the modern bride to the classic Thai décor of the room. 

Thai aesthetic in a modern room

The Chao Phraya framed. One of three views seen from my corner room

Let me share another first-time experience. My check-in happens either at the front desk of the Club Lounge, but Shangri-La did a diversion from my norm. Upon presenting my passport at the front desk, I was personally escorted by the charming receptionist to my room, where a handwritten note (always impresses me) by a bowl of fresh fruits and a few Thai desserts welcomed me. In the cool comforts of the room, I signed the check-in form. Now, who doesn’t want to be treated like a king by the “River of Kings”? 

Personalized check-in comforts of my corner room

Welcome. Handwritten notes are always impressive

“With space spanning almost a quarter of a mile on the Chao Phraya River, Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok has the longest river frontage of any inner-city hotel,” shared Communications Manager, Khanitta Sudsamai, “Our prime location contributed to the rapid popularity as a city-resort welcoming a wide range of guests including business travelers, tourists, and meeting and incentive groups,” she added. 

But the address is just one of the hotel’s charms. The graceful and gentle Thai hospitality and service is another. It enhances the warm ambience of this dramatic riverside property. Add to the list the superior choice of cuisine and restaurants: Salathip offers Thai cuisine next to the river with classical dance performances, Shang Palace presents Chinese cuisine by chefs from China, Italian dishes are available at Volti restaurant & bar, which has an open kitchen and pizza oven, and NEXT2 Café by the river provides extensive buffet meals, and Asian and continental cuisine. Guests can also enjoy Shangri-La’s Horizon nightly luxury dinner cruise with a delicious international buffet. Another two outlets at the lobby level are The Chocolate Boutique, a rendezvous to enjoy signature chocolates and beverages, and The Long Bar, featuring a bar counter that is 14.2 metres long overlooking the River of Kings for creative drinks and snacks. 

Sawadee ka. Welcome to the Horizon CLub Lounge at the 24th floor

Afternoon coffee at the Horizon Club Lounge

Breakfast with this view at the Horizon Club Lounge

Thai cuisine & cultural performance at Salathip

Shang Palace presents Chinese cuisine by chefs from China

NEXT2 Cafe Terrace

Now, time to burn a few calories—in style. With picture window views of the garden, the Health Club offers a complete gymnasium, steam room, massage and state-of-the-art exercise equipment. Aerobic and fitness classes are scheduled daily. Rooftop tennis courts, with floodlights for evening games, are available for guest use. 

One of the hotel's two pools

After a good game or workout, indulge in one of the signature therapies of the CHI, The Spa to soothe your body and revitalize your spirit. The spa features the most luxurious private “spa-within-a-spa” suites in Bangkok, complete with memorable bathing and sauna facilities. CHI gives you the luxury of personal space and timelessness for an experience like no other. 

CHI, The Spa

This oasis of tranquillity, relaxation and luxury in the heart of the city, gives you every reason stay “at home”, but if you need to indulge yourself with your other guilty pleasures, like shopping, or enriching your cultural perspective, the most convenient rides are only a few steps from the Krungthep Wing. The skytrain from BTS Saphan Taksin offers rapid, convenient access to many important business and shopping areas of the city as well as MTR subway connection, and the river taxis can take you to the historic parts of Bangkok such as the Grand Palace, the Temple of Dawn and the Royal Barge Museum.

Krungthep Wing's Riverside Lounge; The two towers: Krungthep Wing (foreground) and the Shangri-La Wing 

I, however, can count the minutes I strayed far from this riverside “home.” I had a fabulous time exploring the grand “residence”, enjoyed an authentic Thai dinner at Salathip, a truly relaxing therapy at CHI, breakfast and cocktails at the Horizon Club Lounge, and oversleeping in between crisp white linens of my big bed with the Chao Phraya River lulling me to sleep and greeting me each time I wake. 

This view from the balcony

Like that piece of classic I own, I believe I can always count on Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok to make me feel the best of its luxurious comfort—with every visit across time. 

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok is at 89 Soi Wat Suan Plu, New Road Bangrak, Bangkok 10500, Thailand.

Also published in the SunStar Davao newspaper.