By Hannah Carrodus
Located just a few turns from the mighty Saphan Taksin Bridge, this property along the banks of the old capital city of Thonburi, underestimated by many in the past, is on the path to a strong and truly astonishing comeback.
Indeed, it’s no surprise that the Millennium Hilton won the 2012 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award. Guests spoke of the elegance, style and impeccable service the hotel had to offer, and I find that I too am seduced by the Millennium’s charms. Opened in 2006, the Millennium Hilton incorporates contemporary western design sensibilities with a touch of traditional Siam.
The hotel is located in Charoennakorn Road and overlooks the majestic River of the Kings, the Chao Phraya. It is a convenient 8 km from Bangkok’s bustling city centre, including the city’s colourful China Town and majestic Grand Palace. Guests can travel to and from the city by taking the free shuttle boat that runs every 20 minutes from the Hilton’s private pier, a lovely journey in itself. The quaint service operates from 6:30 a.m. until midnight and pleasantly delivers you to Saphan Taksin BTS Skytrain station and River City shopping centre.
As for accommodation, the Hilton has varying choices to meet guests’ needs. There are two basic types of accommodation, Suites (67sq m) and Executive Rooms (34sq m). All rooms include high-speed internet, flat-screen TVs with 21 channels, daily newspapers, fresh fruit and flowers and breathtaking views of the river and city. For those who want to feel like royalty, the suites come with a separate living room, complete with generous-sized sofas, a funky retro coffee table and beautiful water paintings hanging from the walls, the perfect setting should you wish to entertain or simply spread out. Guests staying in this room also have a radio, CD player, Apple Dock and Nintendo Wii (on request) at their disposal. The King Executive Plus Suite comes with an additional second bathroom, all suites include a Jacuzzi and rain shower.
For this visit I am staying in the King Executive room, which includes a Jacuzzi and rain shower in the bathroom, as well as a stylish wooden desk, that function as a workspace. However, while some prefer to be productive in the privacy of their own room, if you’re happy to have some company I would suggest you clock up your hours at the Executive Lounge on the 31st floor. Guests staying in the Executive Room have access to this lounge. Here you can complete your necessary commitments while enjoying the stunning views and consuming the complimentary snacks and beverages throughout the day. This includes a filling buffet breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails. I decide to punch in an hour’s worth of writing at the lounge. As a journalist I’m happy sitting here with my coffee and computer, but I notice around me many people are using this tinted beige room to meet and chat with business associates.
Now my work is done the fun can begin. I treat myself to an aromatic massage at the Spa Reception to garner some much-needed rejuvenation. The Spa offers a variety of nail, hair, body and facial treatments, as well as including a Jacuzzi and steam room. My masseuse has strong hands and kneads out my knots. Next it’s time to watch the sun set by the Millennium Hilton’s beautiful pool, The Beach, on the fourth floor.
I take advantage of this luxurious area by lying on a semi-submerged recliner aptly planted on the water’s edge, overlooking Bangkok. I stretch out and allow the cool breeze to wash over my face. The sinking sun is magnificently reflected in the surrounding glass buildings, creating a magical vibe. Before long a waiter approaches to take my order for a strawberry smoothie. I feel very spoiled indeed.
While I prefer to unwind with a massage or meditation by the pool, for those who are so inclined the Millennium Hilton’s well-equipped fitness centre offers an alternative type of leisure activity. The fitness centre includes a range of machines and free weights as well as weekly classes in yoga, pilates and aero boxing – a good way to burn off that extra cocktail you drank last night. Speaking of cocktails, I meander up to Three Sixty Lounge, the spectacular revolving bar parked on top of the Millennium Hilton’s 31 floors, offering panoramic views of Bangkok. The chic, dimly lit lounge is scattered with comfortable leather armchairs and candles on each table, which illuminate the room with a warm glow. The smooth tunes being played by a live jazz band, which is here every night, add a tranquilizing ambience. I feel as though I don’t have a care in the world as I sip my white Russian and admire the city from all angles.
While I couldn’t wait to have a drink at the most impressive bar first, the Millennium Hilton contains eight food and drink venues. Fine dining options include tapas-style Thai cuisine in Maya, authentic Chinese cuisine in Yuan, an international buffet in Flow and imported beef in Prime. It’s not an easy choice as each restaurant has tempting features, such as the sushi and sashimi specials that are prepared in an open kitchen in Flow and the contemporary Thai dance performances in Maya. I opt for Prime, ordering the pan-fried crab cakes for entrée and an Australian
Angus steak for main. The crab cakes come with a delicious creamy lemon butter caper sauce that melts in my mouth and the beef is juicy and succulent, a result of being grilled over Prime’s signature wood burning grill. The meal is nicely complemented with a drop of New Zealand Shiraz, and is made all the more enjoyable by the chatty wait staff that delivers it. Watch out for the more detailed features about the wonderful experiences of these restaurants that our culinary team had in the Palates section in our upcoming issues.
Additional features worth mentioning include the Millennium Hilton’s fully equipped Business Centre and 15 versatile private meeting rooms that can be found on the 30th floor. The rooms can be arranged to suit just about any requirement. The hotel also houses two 700-pax capacity ballrooms, which can be hired for conferences, and a Grand Ballroom, which can be hired for formal cocktail parties, dinners and balls.
It has always been said that Thonburi is that old, quiet and sublime side of the great Krungthep Mahanakhon. But as in life, sometimes things are better seen from a different angle or perhaps the other side. You know where to get the best view of Wat Arun – the famous Temple of Dawn in Thonburi? From the ‘Bangkok side’ of the river. So why not take a glimpse of the great city from the other side? Believe me, it works and it works wonderfully in so many ways only one can discover on your own.
MILLENNIUM HILTON BANGKOK HOTEL
123 Charoennakorn Road, Klongsan, Bangkok