Today is day 25 of my Lockdown. It started in South Africa where we spent 17 days in Cape Town, kind of in limbo, until managing to get seats on a repatriation flight to London on April 14. What an eerie experience that was, through two deserted airports with everyone wearing masks. Now I’m settled back in London where it’s the start of my day 6.
A big part of my life is travelling and eating out…I mean a really big part, so it’s all a bit weird for me. But staying healthy and getting through to the other side are my priorities. And I’ve found the best way of dealing with this strange life we’re now living is one day at a time. There’s plenty to keep me busy and I’m loving the beautiful spring weather.
And I do have some fabulous travel experiences from last year still to share. So here goes…come with me to Thailand and get away from it all for a while. My ninth trip to the Land of Smiles (yes, clearly I love it there) and a two-stop work-related trip starting in Bangkok (yes, I do have a great job). This vibrant city with its population of over 8 million always gets my heart singing, though it’s been a while since I last actually stayed here.
For my return I’m staying in one of the world’s best and most famous hotels – The Peninsula. Set on banks of the River of Kings, this magnificent hotel towers over the city. We’re welcomed in the enormous and striking, marble lobby with orchids and smiles – and warm, scented towels to refresh ourselves. What a good start.
Here’s what I loved about my stay at the legend that is The Peninsula.
How I love a luxury hotel room. I could live in one of these opulent suites – there’s so much space with a lounge and desk area and of course the plushest of enormous beds. There’s also a separate dressing room (what joy) and a spacious bathroom with bath and shower (both huge, too). And a balcony to take in those city views from on high – even if I did feel slightly dizzy peering over the edge.
The restaurants and cookery
One of the biggest attractions of Thailand is their food. And when you’re staying at The Peninsula it’s an ever bigger attraction! Starting with breakfast. Served on the shaded terrace of The River Cafe (overlooking the river, naturally) this is one breakfast array that demands a serious walk-through before you even consider eating! Seriously the range of delicacies available is mind-boggling and the displays are quite simply stunning. I walked around for 10 minutes gasping with delight. Pour yourself a glass of fresh juice while you ponder your options.
As well as all the traditional Asian and European options – from rice and stir fried dishes, to eggs and bacon and cheese and charcuterie you’ll find different offerings like these delightful vegetable displays with their dips. Who could resist?
Al fresco dining at Thiptara
We ate dinner the first night on the twinkling terrace at Thiptara beneath a 120-year-old Banyan tree. What a sumptuous array of Thai delights. Like pomelo salad with river prawns, spicy tom yam soup, steamed sea bass and curry with soft-shelled crab.
Let’s get cooking
The next morning we were back there for a cookery class with the hotel’s chef. How I love a cookery class, especially in such a great environment with such fabulous ingredients.
First up we made a green papaya salad – one of my all-time favourite Thai dishes that I eat most days when I’m there. So fresh and zesty with a really chilli bite.
And then we created a tasty Pad Thai. How beautiful does this look!
The ultimate in Cantonese cuisine
The third eatery at The Peninsula is the fabulous Mei Jiang Cantonese restaurant. What a treat to enjoy the Eight Elements dinner. Eight courses each made up of eight ingredients, with incredible flavours and creative presentation.
Like this steamed dumpling made up of lobster, king crab, blue crab, tiger prawn, river prawn, crayfish, carabineros (a type of shrimp) and caviar. The most deliciously deluxe dumpling ever.
Or this incredible cornucopia of dried scallop, roasted duck, foie gras, honey bean, bean sprouts, kai lan, scallions and XO sauce. Truly a dinner for the top drawer of the memory bank.
The boat and sunset cruise
So The Peninsula has it’s own boat – well, it would wouldn’t it? And as traffic can be on the hectic side in the bustling capital, using the river is a great way to explore the city. We took the short trip to the newly opened ICONSIAM – packed with designer shops. And we also got the chance to explore Bangkok’s Old Quarter and canals – a fascinating first for me learning all about the city’s diverse history.
We also enjoyed a sundown cruise taking in some of Bangkok’s beautiful sights, including the stunning Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun) and the Grand Palace while sipping on bubbles and indulging in some of the best canapés I’ve ever had the pleasure of devouring.
The flowers everywhere
There’s no doubt that beautiful flowers are good for the soul. They’re so uplifting and nowhere more so than at The Peninsula. The hotel’s florist arranges 800 fresh orchids every day of the year – yes, every day. From spectacularly grand arrangements to table settings and daily wreaths in your room, you are surrounded by the beauty of tropical blooms at every step. Quite heavenly.
Those special touches
Wow! The Peninsula really does go the extra mile when it comes to surprising and spoiling its guests. Every day at breakfast this lovely lady made up little massage pouches for us to take away. Packing them full of Thai herbs and spices they made for perfect massage tools and had an incredible aroma.
I’ve already mentioned those flowers. How I loved the orchids laid out on my bed every day. Oh and how’s this for a couple of personalised gifts – my monogrammed pillow case and my very own monogrammed Peninsula Bear.
And how about the coconut water – all prepared and marked in Peninsula style.
The refreshing hot, scented towels that appeared as if by magic every time we felt a little hot and bothered. I miss those refreshing towels!
And of course the service. Every person I encountered at The Peninsula had a smile and a cheery sawadee ka. And they made sure to keep you happy – even anticipating your needs and some you didn’t know you even had.
I love some time poolside and this is not just any pool. The hotel’s three-tiered 88 metre swimming pool is the longest hotel pool in Bangkok. It’s surrounded by cabanas and beds for sunny relaxation and the service is tip-top with a never-ending supply of exotic refreshment served through the day.
The fabulous Spa
Overlooking the pool the luxury spa offers a range of revitalising treatments. I loved my Essential Mind Treatment which combined massage, healing oils and vibrational sound therapy – the ultimate combination for the ultimate relaxation. All in a deluxe private suite complete with petal-filled jacuzzi and your own personal sauna. Spas don’t get better than this.
The city’s myriad attractions
Okay, part of the appeal of The Peninsula is obviously that it’s in Bangkok. It’s a fabulous city with so much to discover, including vibrant food markets, great shopping opportunities, fantastic restaurants, historical walks and tours and palaces and temples to visit.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the chance to escape to a bit of tropical luxury from the comfort of your home. And taken the chance to start making a list of places you’d like to visit once we are through Corona times. I know Thailand is certainly on mine.
The Peninsula Bangkok is at 333 Charoennakorn Road, Klongsan, Bangkok.