Tried & Tested

Hotel review: Anantara Siam Bangkok

27 Jun 2016 by Jeremy Tredinnick
Anantara Siam Bangkok exterior
BACKGROUND This venerable hotel started life as the Bangkok Peninsula in 1982 but soon became the Regent; in the early 2000s it was rebranded as the Four Seasons Hotel and stayed that way – under owner-management by the Minor Hotel Group – until March 2015, when it was rebranded again as the Anantara Siam. As such it is undergoing extensive renovation to rooms, meeting and leisure facilities, and more subtle touch-ups to heritage areas such as the lobby and courtyard areas. The aim is to make this the flagship Anantara property in Thailand. WHERE IS IT? A very central location on Ratchadamri Road facing the Royal Bangkok Sports Club. The Siam and Sukhumvit shopping and dining districts are ten minutes’ walk to the north, while Lumpini Park is a little farther in the other direction, while crossing Rama IV brings you to Silom Road, which leads towards the Chao Phraya River. A Skytrain station (Ratchadamri) is right on the hotel’s doorstep. The Anantara’s Grand Staircase is an impressive sight when you enter the lobby WHAT’S IT LIKE? This 354-room hotel has a lot of history, as is clear when you walk through the entrance into the huge colonnaded lobby area, lavishly furnished with teak easy chairs and sofas upholstered in royal purple and other tropical hues and complemented by gorgeous floral arrangements. The famous fresco ceiling panels are beautiful, as is the mural on the grand staircase opposite the main entrance. Attentive Thai staff (some of whom have worked here for decades) and a quiet but constant buzz of people relaxing and moving through the area give the impression that this is a well-loved luxury hotel that transcends its branding. Afternoon tea is popular in the Lobby Lounge The eight-storey main building is book-ended by two wings built around open courtyards: the southern Parichart Court houses the main function rooms as well as two restaurants, Biscotti and Shintaro, while the northern Montathip Court boasts an open garden with carp-filled pond, around which are various restaurants, retail shops and the alfresco Aqua bar. ROOM FACILITIES I was in a Premier room (42 sqm) above Montathip Court on the seventh floor – this wing has recently been renovated and rooms are reached via an open-air circular balcony on each level. The Premier room is understated with splashes of colour On arrival in my room I tried to connect to the free wifi without success. This is not unusual in Thailand, so I went to the Kasara Lounge – I had access to this executive area – and asked the staff to fix the problem. This they did in an efficient if unorthodox fashion, connecting my laptop with an ethernet wire in-room, and piggy-backing my iPhone to the room’s complimentary Handy smartphone (which comes with a host of phone/internet services and useful content, and can be carried around town as you wish). The wifi speed was excellent for both devices, and I was able to use my own phone wherever I went in the city – a big plus. The Handy smartphone offers wifi and many other benefits around town The room renovations are quite a change from the more traditional previous incarnations; the décor is in either silver-grey or gold (mine was the former), with huge padded headboards and a couple of small paintings on the walls. The understated effect is balanced by a deep-purple sofa and cushions providing the requisite Anantara accents – I particularly liked the oversized lamps and lampshades, and the hanging glass lamps near the window. It was a nice space to be in. The old teak work desk and dark-wood wardrobe fittings remain from the hotel’s older days – no bad thing – but the bathroom has been brightened up and is a good size, with a roomy walk-in shower and separate bath. L’Occitane shower products using pleasing Thai-style scents are available, but unfortunately, late each evening I could detect a faint smell of drains in the bathroom (not present during the day). BARS AND RESTAURANTS The Italian restaurant Biscotti and Japanese Shintaro on the ground floor past the check-in area are often praised and are well frequented by locals, as are the group of eateries surrounding the Aqua alfresco bar and dining area in Montathip Court. You can choose to eat inside Madison steakhouse, Spice Market (Thai cuisine) or Pop-Up Wine & Charcuterie, or order from their menus and eat in the Aqua bar area (also in this courtyard is the Mocha and Muffins pastry café). Aqua is a popular night-time haunt for young Thais, and puts on one of the city’s best Sunday brunches; I tried to taste everything but there was far too much choice… highlights were the whole baked salmon, pan-seared foie gras, and the seafood and meat grilling station. It was a food lover’s paradise. Biscotti Italian restaurant is renowned in Bangkok The Lobby Lounge is a classic spot for afternoon tea or a sophisticated evening drink or meeting, while the Kasara Lounge on the seventh floor serves an excellent breakfast in quiet surroundings if you prefer this to the more extensive options available on the ground floor. The Terrace bar by the pool also serves sandwiches, Mediterranean and Thai dishes in a casual resort setting. Breakfast in Kasara Lounge is a peaceful affair BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES Kasara Lounge guests benefit from a range of executive extras such as one hour’s free use of any of the three meeting rooms, unlimited garment pressing, 24-hour use of the business centre, among many other perks. The business centre is located on the second floor and fulfils all the usual requirements. The hotel’s function spaces are numerous and expansive, including a ballroom with a five-metre ceiling that caters to 1,000 people, and a separate outdoor garden area. LEISURE FACILITIES The outdoor swimming pool is accessed from the second floor – it has a resort feel to it and is surrounded by greenery. Also on the same floor is the Anantara Spa – well known for the authenticity of its massages and spa treatments – and descending some stairs brings you to a large 24-hour gym, yoga/aerobic studio, steam room, whirlpool bath and, surprisingly, a squash court (one of the health club staff will play you if you don’t have a partner). Also in this area is a bona fide barbershop – a remnant of the hotel’s early days, it is staffed by two elderly barbers who actually worked here when the hotel was a Peninsula! VERDICT One of Bangkok’s finest, this hotel walks the line between maintaining the considerable appeal of its historic legacy, while offering a contemporary product for the modern traveller. Overall – and despite a couple of minor, typically Thai quirks – it does this with aplomb. Jeremy Tredinnick   HOW MANY ROOMS? 354 rooms and suites: 121 Deluxe, 47 Deluxe View, 92 Premier and 16 Premier View, 16 Deluxe Kasara and 20 Premier Kasara rooms, six Garden Terrace rooms and six suite types ranging from 72 sqm to 344 sqm. PRICE Internet rates for a Premier Kasara room in mid-Aug start from THB13,656 (US$383) per night. CONTACT 155 Ratchadamri Road, Bangkok 10330, Thailand; tel +66 2126 8866;  
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