Luxury Hotels


“The world’s most luxurious hotel group”, proclaims one of the leaflets in Sybaritic Single’s room At Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok.
In his own view, Mandarin Oriental hotels are usually quite good but calling them the most luxurious is a bit of a stretch.
Curiously, there’s not a single world city where the group might boast having the best place in town. Hong Kong? Not quite. Singapore? Barely. Tokyo, Geneva, Paris or New York? No, no, no and absolutely not. There are much more luxurious places to sleep at in those cities.
Mandarin Oriental is always a hard-working runner-up, an aspiring second best. Back in the day, it courted AMEX Centurion Card members with complimentary stays at each of its properties, no strings attached – and that’s how the Sybaritic Single really discovered the brand.
The original Oriental Hotel in Bangkok dates back to 1876. Curiously, its first royal guests were the entourage of Crown Prince Nicholas of Russia (later Tsar Nicholas II). Today, it still carries the reputation of the finest in the city.
Palms sway. Champagne corks pop as the doorman greets the Sybaritic Single by his name. A jazz band is playing though it is impossible to get inside the fabled Bamboo Bar: “We give no priority to in-house guests”.
Despite the renovations, the hotel feels tired with the most precious historic wing turned into a tireless afternoon tea cash cow. The virtuoso pianist is a delight – if only he was rolled out from under the staircase and performed on a more refined Steinway or Blüthner instead of Petrof.
The Sybaritic Single orders all three afternoon tea menus yet finds all of them quite passable. His ever-thoughtful friend arranges a bottle of Laurent Perrier Grand Siècle which adds the much-needed sparkle to the occasion as they discuss the hotel’s legendary restaurant since 1958, Le Normandie by Alain Roux, losing its chef and half of Michelin stars recently.
With more competition coming to Bangkok, including Aman Nai Lert and Plaza Athénée next door as well as the already very agreeable Capella and Four Seasons, the Sybaritic Single believes that Mandarin Oriental might need a bit more than a good name to keep its “most luxurious” flagship at the very top.