Why not start in Bangkok…
It’s kinda smoggy and a little oppressive (we know, we’re really selling it! but there are lolz to be had) here so if you’ve got off a cramped long haul economy flight you want to end up somewhere suitably plush to get over it. Head to The Siam (and if you ask nicely they’ll send a fancy car to the airport to scoop you up), nestled a little out of town on the river front.
Did someone say Art Deco?
Fancy pretending you’re in a 30s spy drama? This place is ideal. All white and black, grand entrances and giant indoor palm tree installations.
Can’t be bothered to move?
The rooms are huge and airy, in cooling monochrome, with pretty sweet free standing baths (ideal for relaxing in post a day out in the city). You’ll also get your own butler on hand to help with any whim.
We know it’s really sweaty here
Which is why they have a super handy super chic looking pool! If you order one thing at the adjacent bar, make it an orange juice – this is surely what heaven tastes like. I mean feel free to shove some vodka in it too (you are on holiday after all), but I cannot impress how delicious this juice is.
If you really must go out on the town
You can easily get into more central areas either in a taxi (cheap, but beware that drivers will not always want to take you out this way, or anywhere – they can be tricky and will try and coax you into a lump sum so you really must push them to put on the meter) or on the brilliant Sky train system which is very simple to use and super quick. The Siam also offer their own rather chic barge to take you across or up along the river – by far the least stressful way to navigate the city.
You feel like you should see something cultural…
We hear you. Why not head to the 18th century Grand Palace? It’s rather nice and blingy – we imagine the architect kept thinking, ‘yes good, but MORE GOLD.’ Top travel tip – don’t go at midday! It’s horribly hot and full of tourists! We’d totally get up and go first thing if we could go back in time and make that decision again… You can also shimmy your way down to Wat Pho, the temple of the reclining Buddha, where you can see a pretty immense gold (obvs) 46m long Buddha chilling in his temple. Pretty cool.
So by about now you’ll be aching for that tropical beach paradise. Let’s go to Phuket!
We just hopped on a little bargainous Air Asia flight and HELLO tropics! OK so, Phuket is the biggest Thai island and like Ibiza has its chic areas to combat the package holiday cheap and cheerful ones. But it’s still pretty beautiful.
You want the ultimate infinity pool, full on luxury experience?
Hell yeah! Sri Panwa is the epitome of paradise. Set up in the hills and over a spectacular bay it’s rooms (or villas) all feature their own pools, outdoor showers and jaw-dropping bathroom and beds. You can also jump from your bed into your pool. JOY. This might be a minor thing, but they also offer everything in the mini bar (except wine and champagne) for free - so snacks, soft drinks, beers. Pretty classy. Once in the resort you probably won’t ever want to leave, there are several pools dotted around plus a sweet private beach with all your kayaking, snorkelling and diving needs on offer.
You really need a good pool picture for your Instagram?
For the ultimate infinity experience you need to head up to either the Spa (it’s all about a spacious treatment suite – the therapists here are very, very good, a flick of their hands will alleviate even the worst jet lag) or the sunset bar at the very top of the hill. Here you get the most incredible view over the island, and can look out from the edge of the swimming pools and feel like you really are on top of the world. Pool posing does really not get much better.
All this swanking around is making us hungry…
The epic pool club bar is a wonderful day time option (totally recommend the chilli squid), whilst for a romantic supper, the Baba Soul Food restaurant does super posh but super delicious traditional Thai food. Don’t worry about having to winch yourself up around the hills though when you’ve stuffed your face and had a day of sun, simply call for a little tuk tuk to cart your belly back to your villa. This is a sort of treat of a lifetime kind of a place, leaving is awful.
I’m back in Bangkok again waiting to fly home and am devastated I had to leave heaven.
Yes, we understand, the only way to cushion the blow of exiting the lush luxury of a Thai island is to have a final Thai fling in somewhere like say, The Peninsula. It’s close to the centre of town (handy if you put off doing those temples) and is a great option: as you’d expect the rooms are up to their excellent spec. Breakfast is served along the riverside (although on particularly muggy days you are best to sit inside and enjoy the view from the window), near their impressive sweeping pool which is an excellent place to hide away from the humidity (especially if you can nab one of the cabana beds).
Go on treat yourself (a bit more)
At the end of the pool lies their incredible spa house – with dedicated suites for treatments to make you feel like a Roman emperor - this award winning spa is an absolute must. The staff here are really wonderful and concierge particularly helpful in sorting out tricky restaurant reservations (they managed to get us a table at the extraordinary – and often fully booked – Gaggan – headed up by an ex-El Bulli chef, this Indian tasting menu is some of the best food I’ve ever eaten anywhere ever– very Heston, if you can, go – more than worth the cost twice over).
One more thing…
For a cheaper hotel option and for any Wes Anderson fans then why not spend a night or two at the wonderfully bonkers Atlanta Hotel which has remained untouched since it’s German owners opened in the 50s, and declares itself to be Bangkok’s ‘last bastion of wholesome, culturally sensitive and eco-aware tourism.’ For real. With its original 50s art deco design still perfectly intact, it’s as close to the Grand Hotel Budapest as you’re going to get in real life. If you’re not staying here you’re not supposed to be able to eat at the brilliant ground floor restaurant (a sort of art deco dinner with incredibly good and fresh Thai food) but if you walk in, doff your cap and smile nicely at the formidable proprietress she might just wave you in and let you stay. It’s a little back packer, but more the type to sit and quietly read their Jack Kerouac than try and re-enact it.