on July 2, 2009
I first heard of the Banyan Tree when a fellow traveller in Vietnam told me that dinner in the roof top restaurant of the Banyan Tree would be the perfect way to end my trip before returning home to London. I was determined to do this and the following month I met another traveller in Cambodia who travelled on to Bangkok with me and agree to accompany me to this magnificent restaurant on the final night of my trip.It was a perfect evening and ending to my trip, I was only sorry that my budget on this particular trip did not permit me to actually stay here. In 2005, I was back in Thailand for Christmas and New Year and with that same traveller that I met in Cambodia, who was now my fiancé. This time I had the pleasure of spending four nights in the Banyan Tree including New Years Eve. I made my booking directly with the hotel by email and they were very courteous and prompt with their replies. I was offered a nightly rate of US$225 including New Years Eve and this was for a "club room". In fact every room in the hotel is a suite. Our suite had large bathroom with oversize bath and separate oversize shower, medium sized bedroom and a large lounge with two sofas, coffee table, TV media cabinet as well as an office area. Every night there was a different gift left for us on our pillows, including a cuddly tortoise that I am particularly taken with and another night we received carved wooden bookmarks. The club rooms are all on one of the higher floors and the additional benefits included early check in / late check out (very useful as most flights back to the UK are at about midnight), use of the club lounge which provided free internet access and unlimited complementary snacks, soft and alcoholic drinks all day and inclusive breakfast served on the outside terrace of one of the restaurants which was a hot and cold buffet of a very high standard. I thought it was worth the additional cost which was about $35 per night for the room. The hotel is conveniently placed a short walk from both a Skytrain station and the MRT (underground) station, which are easy to negotiate, pleasant to travel on and cover most of central Bangkok. It is not in the heart of the main shopping areas but I did not see this as a problem due to the transport links and rather I preferred it to be not so bustling as it can be in the shopping districts. In the evenings, as we have been to Bangkok several times before, we were more interested in trying out the various restaurants in the hotel itself rather than venturing outside, although there is a rather good Irish bar en route from station to hotel that we made a re-fueling stop at once or twice. The highlight of any stay in this hotel has to be dinner at Vertigo, which is open air and the highest restaurant in Bangkok. We were here for a spectacular, black tie, eleven course, New Years Eve black tie dinner, an experience that will never be forgotten. One disappointment for me was the hotel spa. The spa is extremely well-appointed and luxurious, however I found it very difficult to get an appointment and this was despite the supposed priority booking for club room guests. I went to make an appointment on my first day at the hotel but was told they were completely booked up for the rest of my stay, so this presumably means it is wise to book treatments in advance. The day I arrived at the hotel I was suffering from an ear infection and being concerned about the flight home I contacted reception to see if they could recommend a doctor. Within 15 minutes, the hotel nurse and assistant manager came up to see me and after examining me and deciding that I should see a doctor, they then provided a limousine to take me to the local hospital (which was itself outstanding). When I returned to the hotel an hour later, I found a get well card and an extremely large box of chocolates which I thought was a very nice touch and I think is indicative of the attention to detail and client care that the hotel provides. Of course there are far cheaper, good quality hotels to stay at in Bangkok. But this was a suite and a high quality one which I think is good value compared to an equivalent suite in one of the major "western" hotel chains. So for a short trip, a treat or a special occasion I would highly recommend the Banyan Tree. If I return to Bangkok again, I will undoubtedly be returning to this hotel.
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