A royal connection

Experience Thai transitional luxury at The Athenee Hotel, Bangkok

The Athenee Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Bangkok. (Photos: The Athenee Bangkok)

Staycations are the in thing, especially with the no travel ban. Though most of us choose not to stay in Bangkok, sometimes it's best to stay in the familiarity of a city we know so well. Spoilt for choice, I decided on The Athenee Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Not all may be aware that the hotel actually stands on the grounds of what was the former royal residence or Kandhavas Palace, the home of Princess Valaya Alongkorn, daughter of King Chulalongkorn or King Rama V. Of course, for history buffs there is a tour "Voyage to our Royal Roots" every Friday and Sunday from 3-4pm on the ground floor.

The lobby is always buzzing as the hotel is popular with wedding receptions and its Rain Tree Cafe is a favourite with locals. To avoid social distancing while checking-in, get a club room and you're whisked away to the 26th floor to the Royal Club Lounge where you check-in, in a matter of minutes. Rooms are spacious, with all the modern amenities like power points near the bed and a comfy bathtub.

STAYING IN

The welcome fruit basket comes with a lovely bouquet of white roses and red carnations. But that is not all. Being in trend is always a strong point with The Athenee and the welcome chocolates does remind me of the Netflix hit "A Queen's Gambit".

Once the room has been inspected, I head to The Allium for the weekend-only Afternoon tea (B2,200++ for two, including two glasses of Veuve Clicquot, B1,400++ for two), one of my many indulgences. The best thing about this tea is that it has more savoury bites than sweet, which is always a plus in my book.

If afternoon tea isn't your thing, head to the "Floral journeys" class, where you are taught the art of lotus folding, every Monday and Saturday. The Siamese potpourri class is every Tuesday. All classes are between 3-4pm. If food is your thing, take the "Epicurean Moments", a class on mieng dok bua, a Siamese royal lotus herbal snack, which is served daily at the Glaz Bar. For fitness enthusiasts, there is muay Thai, a boot camp and a vertical run. All conducted in the evenings so you don't have to get out of bed early.

The hotel prides itself on its sustainability initiatives and works with Scholars of Sustenance to reduce its food waste. Fun fact: The hotel creates its own EMs from fruit and vegetable peels to clean its drains. And they don't just stop at food. The hotel also recycles all its fresh flower arrangements from the weddings and social events and turns them into potpourri. It also has its own waste water treatment plant and recycles 30% of the hotel's water, used for sanitary purposes, resulting in a 20% reduction of overall water consumption!

Dining options are aplenty here at The Athenee. Local favourite, The Rain Tree Cafe is where the famous Sunday brunch takes place and is home to international cuisine. Its all-day dining makes it popular with in-house guests and those who are not staying at the hotel, all under the "super"vision of manager Christian Vera. Breakfast is also served here and it's scrumptious! Begin with a detoxing freshly-pressed juice or create your own. Chef Himanshu Roye made sure I was well-fed by indulging my Indian side with Indian breakfast delights.

The Allium Bangkok boasts modern interpretations of classic French cooking techniques, using locally-sourced ingredients, organic wherever possible. The Silk Road serves up Cantonese with a modern flair, whether it is traditional yum cha or a la carte. The House of Smooth Curry is royal Thai cuisine from all over the Kingdom, with a focus on recipes from the palaces and royal residences. The restaurant has its own spice garden on the third floor, which puts its sustainable ingredients further into focus and the menu is 80% organic.

Last, but not least, is my favourite restaurant here at The Athenee: Kintsugi Bangkok by Jeff Ramsey. A modern take on the Japanese kaiseki cuisine, ingredients are sourced from western Japan and combined with local ingredients. "Kintsugi" being the Japanese art of repairing boring ceramics with glow lacquer, a metaphor for the restaurant's kaiseki cuisine.

The resort-style pool offer a relaxing getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city below. Walk past the pool to enter to The View. A secret garden, sizeable for getting some green amid the concrete jungle that is Bangkok, The View also houses a statue of Princess Valaya Alongkorn. An oasis on the fourth floor!

VALUE AND VERDICT

In December, the hotel is promoting their "Free Dreams, 7 Wishes" campaign, wherein guests can avail of daily breakfast for two; a daily credit of B2,777, which can be used at the spa, restaurants or the bar; Marriott Bonvoy Points 777 per night; free meals for children below the age of 12 from the kids menu; free upgrade; free cancellations within 24 hours of arrival; and the best of all, complimentary 6am check-in and 6pm check-out. Service is impeccable and staff are extremely helpful and friendly. What's not to love about The Athenee?

The Athenee Hotel, 61 Witthayu Road / Call 02-650-8800, visit bit.ly/3kvWJ8P.

Newly launched Peking duck with caviar flambéed with orange-flavoured liqueur.

Delicately-crafted amuse bouche platter of pork cheek and pork liver ice cream.

Spanish Pyrenees Iberico lamb rack and green asparagus.

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