Bangkok was different in February 1970, back when Dusit Thani first opened her doors onto the junction of Silom and Rama IV. Beer was ten baht, gas one baht a litre, a good hotel room eight dollars. Siam Centre was a copse of trees by a dusty roundabout. An original print ad for the hotel boasted of 'a wide choice of sophisticated supper clubs, Continental and Siamese restaurants, coffee shops and cocktail lounges.' The photo shows the building looking much as it does today, minus the towering downtown skyscrapers, which is precisely the appeal of this grand dame of Bangkok hospitality.
There is often a nostalgic trend in new hotel design, with recent openings recreating colonial or some vaguely retro styling, but these facsimiles can often lack the character of the genuine article. Dusit Thani guests seeking the true authenticity of the good old days can stay in timeless teakwood-appointed Heritage Suites, while younger guests seeking modernity can flop in one of the chic Executive Suites. These options reflect the style of the hotel: a Thai classic with modern touches, because if things don't update then a place can become a museum, and when did you last have a great meal in a museum?
Things are changing in the Dusit Thani restaurants, but the welcome remains the same. Once inside the spacious lobby, the city's bustle fades as the traditional Thai music played in the Lobby Lounge mixes with the soothing sounds of their waterfall. It's elegant and classic, but at the same time modern and infused with a sense of place: Thailand. Now an important choice has to be made: which cuisine today? Dusit Thani's restaurants span the gastronomic globe from Asia to Europe to America to all-encompassing buffets, and each outlet has produced a special festive menu, but as we're in Bangkok in this fine hotel we'll start with the Royal Thai cuisine of Benjarong.
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