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Want shopping (and a luxury hotel too)?

A foaming dish at Sra Bua

A foaming dish at Sra Bua

There are some who shop, and travel to shop, and when it comes to luxury retail, Thailand’s premier luxury hotel is Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok. But, first let us  consider the hotel, and its own special points.  Come here to dine. At the hotel’s Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin, every meal is a masterstroke. Dine in exquisite surroundings, teak everywhere, flowers floating in decorative pools.   Be served by gracious Thais who all move as if they were born ballet dancers. And expect some surprises. Here every dish not only looks good but tastes good too, says the gal, who adds that she likes to be able to identify items, ingredients, and then savour maximum flavour, as here.

A pastry-coated beetroot is carved tableside

A pastry-coated beetroot is carved tableside

For instance. I was starting with cod in a beetroot soup. Fine, that was what arrived, a big portion of perfectly just-seared cod, in a shallow puddle of beetroot. Then chef Bern came out with what looked like a single bread roll on a big side table. Not a bit of it. This was a whole beetroot baked in pastry. Bern sliced it open, cut the beetroot into portions and delicately added them to the dish, which was then finished with foam-topped barely-spiced green curry. The flavour of the beetroot and the cod therefore came through entirely. What came next? Braised pork belly with crackling. And in honour of GM Samir Wildemann’s co-heritage – his mother is Lebanese – we drank a German Pinot, Friedrich Becker Spätburgunder B 2012.

View down to the canal-like swimming pool

View down to the canal-like swimming pool

This time I was happy to be up in a normal room, though I am sure aquaholics love the swim-in and swim-out Garden Wing duplexes, straight into the main swimming pool like a canal going past these duplexes. Personally I prefer not having 20 steps up and down every time I have to rush down from bedroom to main door to see who is there. No, 1059 suited me just fine. For one thing it is in the same block as the excellent and spacious Executive Lounge, a quiet retreat from the moment it opens at 6.30 am. People do get up early here. I look down from 1059, early, as people are already swimming down in that pool. Then they do breakfast. This 303-room hotel seems permanently full.

KidZania, on the top floor of Siam Paragon mall

KidZania, on the top floor of Siam Paragon mall

Why should this luxury hotel be so lucky? Today they are serving over 600 breakfasts. The brasserie, with its buffet, is full, as are its terraces. The lobby lounge, with another buffet, is full. I guess, later on, the Executive Lounge is choc-a-bloc too (they may have to open Sru Bua for breakfast!). The reason is the popularity of this hotel, coupled with its location. Step 15 yards across a private road and you are in the amazing six-floor, open-atrium Siam Paragon shopping mall, with every luxury brand you can think of. There is even, up on the top floor, a KidZania, with fullsize Air Asia plane fuselage front sticking out of its wall. Since the traffic jams of cars taking people in and out of the mall’s parking area go on forever, stuck solid, it could almost make sense to move into the hotel and just walk across. Oh, and by the way, tourists get 10% discount at Siam Paragon (plus 7% VAT refund on departure, which makes the price of your Chanel, Gucci, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Tod’s purchases even more worthwhile).