The hotel's modern western decor is enhanced by the beauty and fine craftsmanship of Thai decorative motifs and artwork, found from the lobby to every guestroom and suite. Plush and posh - yet, inviting and in a soothing east-meets-west style.
The 25-storey Shangri-La Wing (670 rooms) and smaller, more exclusive Krungthep Wing (129 rooms) encircle the lush gardens, and serve as a perfect backdrop to the resort-like pool areas. Palm trees, flowering bougainvillea, orchids and birds of paradise complete this perfect picture.
The almost quarter of a mile (402 meters) stretch along the Chao Phraya River gives the Shangri-La the longest river frontage of any inner-city hotel, while it's also the only hotel in the area situated so close to a BTS Skytrain station (Saphan Thaksin).
Getting around to major tourist and shopping attractions is a breeze; a complimentary boat shuttle service is available every half hour to Rivercity with its antiques and collectables, as well as a hospitality minibus that makes regular rounds to Silom's bustling nightlife scene, and a few other daytime routes. Or choose from tailboats, rivertaxis, tuk-tuks and taxis. If traveling in style is your thing, a limousine or helicopter is just a phonecall away.
Facilities and amenities are endless, matched only by the impressive list of awards and accolades the hotel and its restaurants have collected over the past 20 years. But, the secret of the Shangri-La's fine reputation goes far beyond the crystal chandeliers, marble features, world-class spa and sought-after awards that has made it host to several high profile events like the APEC Summit in 2003, the Asean Summit and Thailand's H.M. Queen Sirikit's annual Birthday Charity Ball. Service is key. And the incredible attention to detail.
The first thing that struck me about my Horizon Club suite is its spaciousness. The elegant decor is unpretentious and welcoming. As everywhere else in the hotel, exquisite flowers featured even in the bathroom. Not surprisingly, it takes a dedicated team of ten florists and more than two million baht per month (roughly USD 50,000) to bring the beauty of Thailand's flora into every corner and corridor of the hotel. Heck, even a rainforest 'wall' has been recreated in the lobby - complete with falling water.
The peaceful ambiance of the suite formed a stark contrast to activities on the river below; from barges burdened with heavy loads to tailboats and ferries transporting people about.The only priority at the time was to indicate the pillows of my choice on the 'Pillow Menu'.
The choices varied from anti-snore, bolster and flat feather to buckwheat and foam. And I believe the Shangri-La will soon be the first hotel chain in the world to introduce a 'Scent Menu' too. Guests will be able to choose from combinations of lemon, peppermint, ginger, geranium, orange, lavender, bergamot, rose, jasmine, rosewood, grapefruit and cinnamon to "uplift, balance and sooth" while they are having sweet dreams.
As night falls, the riverside area undergoes a metamorphosis. The sky turns red with clusters of pink hues, as buildings light up almost on cue. Why is it that nowhere else in Bangkok sunsets seem as spectacular and dramatic than at the riverside? It was time to get ready for a dinner cruise on The Horizon, the Shangri-La's luxury, two-deck boat, a fitting ending to a perfect day.
On its delightful two-hour cruise along the river, the Horizon passes many of the city's famous landmarks like the Temple of Dawn, The Grand Palace and Temple of the Reclining Buddha, historical buildings, monuments and local markets buzzing with activity.
The difficult part is to take in the sights while enjoying the scrumptious international and Thai buffet. My personal favorite was the snow fish, masterly prepared with a white wine and cream sauce, elevating my tastebuds to culinary heaven.
To make the most of a stay at this fine hotel, the Horizon Club with its spacious rooms and suites on the 23rd, 24th and 25th floors of the Shangri-La Wing offers the kind of exclusivity and privileges that meet the needs of the most discerning leisure or business traveler - for just a little extra.
From access to the Horizon Club Lounge with a breakfast buffet in the morning, soft drinks throughout the day, canap-s and drinks late afternoon, to an around-the-clock concierge, meeting rooms, late check-out (18:00), and an express check-in and check-out service.
The Horizon Club suite was more than a hotel room; it was an experience. Guest relations staff take service levels a notch higher than the already impeccable standards maintained throughout the hotel, which can overall be described as unobtrusive, swift, attentive, pleasant, helpful and sincere.
The moment you enter through the doors of CHI - The Spa at Shangri-La, you enter a different world. The spacious 1,000 square meter spa, inspired by the architectural and design principles of a Tibetan temple, is a sanctuary of tranquility that indulges all the senses.
Dramatic, subdued lighting accentuates feature walls finished in split-face stone and exquisite artworks and antiques sourced from the Himalayan region. The smell of fragrant incense and aromatic oils wafts through the air. Colours are rich and finishes are understated and simple. The ambiance is one of sacred indulgence.
The CHI Spa experience is based on the ancient healing traditions and philosophies of China and the Himalayas. 'Chi' represents the universal life force that governs well-being and vitality. To maintain good health, it is believed that chi must flow freely within the body.
All the spa treatments (currently there are more than 35 to choose from) and the exclusive product range have been designed on the Chinese philosophy of the five elements, in which metal, water, wood, fire and earth are in balance with the positive yang and negative yin energy within the body.
Each spa experience takes place in one of nine, spacious private suites, featuring a spa-within-a-spa concept, complete with an infinity bath, herbal steam and shower, relaxation lounge and changing, toilet and vanity areas. The Garden Suite, the largest in Bangkok, features a garden with an infinity bath set in a lotus pond. All treatment rooms have sweeping river views too, and the lighting changes as part of the therapy sequence.
Prior to and after the massage, Tibetan singing bowls are used to balance one's energy aurally. The bowls are made to 'sing' when struck or rubbed around the outside of the rim using a wooden stick which, at various speeds and force, create a sustained ringing sound. The harmonics of Tibetan singing bowls, bells and symbols have been used for centuries to assist with meditation and healing.