This review includes consideration of:
Banyon Tree Bangkok
There are a few general statements to begin:
- some reviewers justify NOT staying near the river by saying it smells. NOT TRUE. Riverside is an absolutely lovely, relaxing setting by which to relax, dine and stay. There is no question that I would chose this as an advantage over other hotels packed in an otherwise dense town, filled with luxury sitting next to poverty, and dirty general areas. Every hotel you visit, and it doesn't matter which one, will be affected by this juxtaposition of rich and poor, glittering clean and dirty.
- for the city hotels situated next to the BTS Skytrain, it is an advantage, however, the 3 prime river hotels, the Mandarin Oriental, Peninsula and Shangri-La are all a very short walk away. The Peninsula and Mandarin Oriental (Shangri-La is smack next door) offer a lovely, traditional Thai river shuttle which makes it a pleasure to go the the BTS station.
One disclaimer about my review, I am primarily writing about the appearance and feel of the common areas - the lobby, restaurant and pool, as I only stayed in the rooms of the Peninsula and Sukhothai. I'll start with the others first.
Mandarin Oriental: nice hotel, but is a bit cramped and over decorated with what I feel is asian targeted decor and frilliness. when we went in the lobby was jammed with Asian guests, seemed primarily local Thai's, Japanese and Chinese. That's fine. Nothing wrong with Asian's, but I think the hotel appeal's more to their style/taste. I also found the decor a bit dated, as though this was the height of opulence in the 60's, 70's.
Shangri-La: Lobby is quite large, but again felt quite 60's, 70's. Many chandeliers which were of hotel ballrooms of that era, with long shards of crystal forming an upside down cone. Pool area was nice, though not that intimate or as nice as the Mandarin or Peninsula
Ariyasomvilla: Rated as the #1 hotel on trip advisor, but I think this is huuuuuugely misleading. This hotel is charming, but small, and is really targeted towards the more budget conscious traveler, with common areas which are relatively small and often open to the outside, which can be a bit uncomfortable during hotter times of the year. Don't get me wrong, very charming, but just can not offer the amenities and comfort of the others, but is often 50% cheaper.
Banyon Tree: Very nice, but an unusual thin wedge of a building especially on the upper floors, which makes the restaurants and common areas small compared to the others. Vertigo, on the top is breath-taking... so much so that my wife could not dine up there - on the 61st floor, open to the stars, with railing right on the edge of the building. On the upper floors, my guess is the building width is no more than 50 feet. If you love heights, you'll like this hotel. However, I do like heights and I still was not as wowed by it as the Peninsula. BUT... they do offer a wonderful selection of nice restaurants, and we ate at Saffron, which was delicious.
Sukhothai: This is nice, with absolutely lovely staff who were some of the most service oriented I met in BKK, but this has more of a feel of a boutique hotel, with more limited lobby and restaurant options. Also, the hallway areas (at least in the building where we stayed) are open to the outside elements (not enclosed), so you're immediately hit with heat and humidity, which isn't always great. Our room was quite nice, and the bed was amazing. BUT, you have to ensure you are NOT near the parking garage, as cars will get a free show of seeing you and your wife/girlfriend in various stages of undress. Unfortunately, we had a global Rotary Club convention going on in Bangkok which sucked up a huge amount of the rooms in better hotels all over he city. I was a bit frustrated, as we were on the Amex Centurion Fine Hotels & Resorts program which gets an upgrade if available, and the upgrade sometimes is given when you reserve. I've almost always been upgraded, but I was not at the Sukhothai. I recognise that I shouldn't have attitude about it, but I guess I just felt that I shouldn't have been treated as a 2nd class citizen compared to the Rotary Club attendees, and shoved in to a no-upgrade room next to the parking garage where my wife was offering a free underwear or nude show to the drivers unless we closed the screens.
The Peninsula: spectacular in every way. Service, amenities, grounds... lobby areas and pool were just the right balance of opulence and luxury, without being overtly frilly. All staff were wonderful, and our room (Grand Deluxe King) was wonderfully laid out, comfortable, with great views of the river. In my view, if you're western with an appreciation of elegance, comfort, amenities and position, there is no hotel that is close to the Peninsula. Breakfast buffet in the morning is amazing, there is also one in the evening. A lovely, traditional Thai restaurant on the grounds, beautiful spa and pool area. Unchallenged, in my view, in Bangkok.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC