The Dusit Thani enjoys the perfect location in Bangkok (Image: Graham Caldwell)
For almost half a century, it has treated thousands of guests to the gracious hospitality only Thailand can offer, epitomising the warmth, kindness and charm of The Land of Smiles.
Sadly, however, not for much longer. This most exotic of hotels is closing its doors in January prior to demolition and a no doubt sumptuous rebuild.
Which means that you’ll have to be quick if you want to be one of the fortunates who has combined a visit to one of the world’s truly global cities with a stay at one of its great hotels.
The Dusit Thani, of course, offers more than charm and local colour. It’s a five-star property long beloved of royalty, statesmen and stars of stage and screen, so it has every facility you could desire: the Devarana Spa is possibly the most relaxing place on Earth and there’s a choice of eight restaurants and bars – offering everything from Vietnamese dishes and Cantonese cuisine to splendid steaks at Hamiltons.
Pride of place, though, goes to the incomparable Benjarong.
Dusit Club rooms have space and every facility imaginable (Image: Graham Caldwell)
Many reckon Thai cuisine is the finest in the world… and that the very best of Thai cooking is to be found right here. Put it this way; when the late King fancied a Pad Thai or Tom Yum soup, he had the Benjarong on speed dial.
Accommodation, too, leaves you in no doubt where you are. The Dusit Thani’s 500-plus rooms ooze traditional elegance with their use of teakwood and silk. They’re well equipped too, Wi-Fi, walk-in showers, vast comfy beds, no detail is missing.
Opt for a Dusit Club room and you’ll not only get an adjoining sitting room, but access to the Lounge with breakfast, cold drinks, snacks, cocktails and canapés – and the service of Club staff who are on a personal mission to make your life bliss.
Not only can they help out with local excursions, airport check-ins or booking a table at a local restaurant, the moment the thought that another G&T might be a good idea pops into your head, they magically appear with an expectant smile. Having to look after yourself when you leave becomes a serious chore.
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Not all the reasons to stay at the Dusit Thani lie behind its smoked-glass doors, however. There are other very fine hotels in Bangkok, but not one of them can match it for location.
Overlooking the huge, green and gorgeous Lumpini Park, it is a five-minute stroll from Patpong Night Market, where stalls selling local craftwork and “genuine fakes” rub shoulders with bars offering a taste of Bangkok’s more colourful nightlife.
The Dusit also has a Skytrain/MTR interchange literally on its doorstep. The city’s streets are notoriously jammed, day and night and, while there is sometimes no alternative to Bangkok’s, let’s say, somewhat mercenary, taxi and tuk-tuk drivers, access to public transport options is an air-conditioned blessing.
From Silom, take the MRT to Hua Lamphong for Chinatown with its astonishing street food, the glorious Temple of the Golden Buddha, and the raucous nightlife of backpacker Heaven, Khao San Road. Head in the opposite direction, to Sukhumvit, and you’re in the commercial heart of Bangkok with its plethora of malls, restaurants, bars and clubs.
More scenic is the Skytrain monorail. From Sala Daeng, adjoining the Dusit Thani, travel to Saphan Taksin to catch a river boat or taxi for a cooling scoot along the Chao Phraya to some of Bangkok’s unmissable attractions.
The beautiful Wat Arun, or Temple of Dawn (Image: Graham Caldwell)
The stunning and towering Wat Arun in Bangkok, or Temple of Dawn, is looking magnificent after renovations, while just across the river is the beautiful Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), famous both for its 46-metre-long statue and as Thailand’s leading school of traditional massage. One stop further upriver is the huge and stunning Royal Palace. Be sure to dress modestly when visiting all of the above.
The ferry stop is also where you can hitch a lift to Asiatique. A combined night market/theme park with no shortage of eating options, it’s a sanitised version of the late lamented Suan Lum bazaar, but none the worse for that, and an excellent place to buy souvenirs.
Ride the Skytrain to National Stadium and you’ll be entering retail nirvana. First stop is that local institution, the MBK Centre: seven storeys of shops, stalls, and food courts where you can buy anything.
From here you can meander from air-conditioned mall to air-conditioned mall, but be sure to call in at Siam Paragon. Not only is there a fine selection of high-end fashion brands and High Street names, but the best food court in the whole of Asia.
The huge reclining Buddha at Bangkok’s Wat Pho (Image: Graham Caldwell)
Once you tire – and, this being Bangkok, you will tire – hop back on the monorail and you’ll soon be wrapped once more in the cooling embrace of the Dusit Thani.
Chill in your room, have a massage, enjoy a cold drink to the relaxing sound of the waterfall, or a coffee in the splendid Thai-Deco Lobby Lounge before plunging back outside to enjoy one of the world’s most exciting cities… or stay where you are – either way, it will be quite unforgettable.
THE KNOWLEDGE Graham was a guest of the Dusit Thani Bangkok, where their family-focused Escape with Dusit package offers breakfast for two adults and two children, one complimentary dinner during the stay, late check-out, and other privileges. Details: www.dusit.com/specialoffers/escape-with-dusit