Every luxury hotel should have a floating pier, but of course that is impossible unless you have a river… fortunately The Siam Bangkok is right on the bank of the Phraya river, and its pier is used day long for sitting, and watching the river (by night it becomes a cocktail bar). All day the hotel’s free shuttle boat takes off from here for the 30-minute trip down-river to Saphan Taksin pier, main meeting point for all the river’s shuttle boats and ferries. Of course the gal had to take a trip.
And fascinating it was. We passed temples, and a naval academy, and China Town. There were long-tail boats zipping in and out of the general mêlée of waterborne traffic, and the constant diagonal trips of the slow but safe roofed boats that are other hotels’ shuttles. When we got to Saphan Taksin pier we had to wait a few minutes for a landing space. From there it is five minutes’ walk to the Saphan Taksin SkyTrain station – warning, two flights of steps to climb up, not easy in this heat and humidity. Fortunately there are security guards who very adeptly show how you need to get appropriate coins for the ticket machine.
I got out at Ratchadamri, just at the entrance of the St Regis, Bangkok. This was to be Sunday lunch with a difference, with the elegance that is always St Regis. As always, the lobby flowers are gorgeous. We were eating Italian, in JoJo, a clever area that shows, in two-hour loops, old movies on a wall-set television – with black and white photos of stars of yesterday, or rather last century, on the walls. There is a special menu, Gastronomy and Film.
You can start with Forrest Gump, namely a peach and prawn cocktail, with baby spinach and saffron. You could go on to City of Angels, with a lamb shank Basilicata-style, and crispy corn frascatula, a polenta apparently. For dessert, they suggest a Sicilian cassata in honour of the Godfather. We stuck with a simple plain burrata, just in from Puglia – its home base is the Apulia region. This one was, well, totally divine (could easily have eaten a whole one, all by myself, but I was going on to black tagliatelle in its own squid ink sauce).
Then we were in for a treat. We were invited to see one of the two rooftop penthouses, privately owned but available for renting as a hotel suite. Penthouse Suite 4402 stretches over two floors, 8,000 sq feet in all. Its outdoor pool, 55 feet long and ideal for serious swimming, is on the deck that overlooks the huge campus that is the US Embassy, to its south. The Ambassador, Kristie Kenney, is first-ever female US Ambassador here (as she was in The Philippines, before). Interesting, she is a specialist in South America and she speaks French and Spanish…
To the west, suite 4402 looks over Ratchadamri Road to the Royal Bangkok Sports Club. Today they are actually racing, and we see horses tearing around the track, oblivious to the golfers playing their rounds on the course that weaves in and around the whole area. Oh what a treat it would be to stay in this apartment: it has three big bedrooms, stunning art and amazing books in the library. The owner is obviously erudite and with a wide range of interests and no, I am not going to mention his name. Right, back down to the more accessible part of this luxury hotel. What is next on the agenda?