A quick stop in Bangkok en route to a plethora of worldwide destinations is no doubt the preferred route of travel when towing around young kids. We opted for the famed Banyan Tree Bangkok to accommodate our stopover, enjoying a full day and a half scoping the city and recuperating our weary travel bones on our journey home from Phuket.Check-in
Impeccable elegance teamed with exquisite Asian ambience greeted our arrival as we checked in with our two ‘youngens’ both aged under three. After four days of nothing but fierce monsoonal weather on Thailand’s signature resort island, Phuket, we were ready for decadent pampering, and it started right from the word 'go'. We booked a 'Club' room which came with VIP check-in and set the mood for the rest of our stay.
Whilst the hotel boasts it is family-friendly, the Club Lounge is not the ideal place for boisterous toddler boys who have just escaped days of rain and a subsequent flight. I fill out the necessary paperwork and upon receiving our room card, we hustle off to the elevator with our tiny tots and drift upwards, eagerly awaiting the discovery of our haven for the next 24 hours.The Banyan Tree Club Room
Upon opening the door I am transported to another place in time. I blurt out, “no way!” but my eyes haven’t even left the living room yet. Deep, earthy hues of chocolate, cream, bold black and glowing gold illuminate the room that is equipped with all the fundamentals: crisp bar area topped up with all the right thirst-quenching friends, oversized soft golden sofa, and a window-facing black marble desk that almost beckons one to work. Atop a low-sitting oval glass coffee table sits a fully stocked fruit bowl holding Asia’s most exotic selections. I’m still drooling over the size of the sofa as the boys bee-line to the fruit, digging into rambutans and dragon fruit like wild animals foraging in the forest.
Enormous dividing doors invite me to view the grand bedroom, exposing the immaculate king-sized bed situated beneath one of the finest in-room feature walls I have ever laid eyes on – a paneled silk wall of deep red decorated with a golden rod-sculpture. I hope my boys do not think it is a door handle to another realm - with their history of breaking ridiculously cool stuff my credit-card is starting to sweat.
The kids are sorted with a trundle bed and wooden baby cot dressed in cosy white linen,and even with another massive sofa under the floor-to-ceiling window stretching the length of the entire wall, the room is generously spacious.Soap me up – the bathroom
Identical dividing doors give way to yet another room, one so divine it deserves its own sub-heading. The bathroom is, quite simply, spectacular. I walk in and face-on am greeted by twin black granite basins sitting in a thick glass bench top. The bench is stocked with complimentary bottled water, rolled face towels, bath salts, toiletry kits and fresh cut cerise orchids. But this dramatic display is a mere entree compared to what lies to my left: a bath the size of a mini boat complete with double headrests, and perched above a slab of black granite then giving way to dramatic views of Bangkok city.
I actually almost miss the adjacent glass-housed rainfall shower, with equally breathtaking views. Forcing my head to spin 180, the simple toilet is elegantly hidden behind a frosted glass cubicle next to every woman’s dream: an oversized dresser with another giant mirror, oil and incense burners and more orchids. I’m ready to move in, and so are the kids – they’re already naked and scaling the side of the bath, yelling “mumma let’s go swimming!” No joke, the bath is THAT big.Vertigo
Our stay coincides with hubby’s birthday, so I book an in-room babysitter through reception and after polishing our skin for hours in the hot tub we finally emerge from our room decked out in our finest threads. We are bound for the rooftop, perched 61 floors high, where the elevator doors open to the gates of Bangkok’s skyline – they don’t call this place Vertigo for nothing.
We climb the stairs to the very top and by this point I have two valuable pieces of advice for the ladies: 1. Do not wear a skirt (the poor girl in front of us got caught by a gust of wind exposing her voluptuous butt cheeks exposed to the world); 2. Avoid high heels – mine got stuck in between the wood paneled flooring and let me tell you, tripping atop a 61-storey rooftop is not for the faint hearted.
A-class service compliments Vertigo’s dramatic 360 degree panorama views, and with low walls (more like no walls, eek!) you really are given a bird’s eye view of the city. Head up around sunset to take in the colorful skyscapes as the city’s lights twinkle into overdrive when night arrives.
We opt for a four-course meal from the set menu that somewhat lacked romance – I don’t want to eat steak and mash whilst on top of the world! The paired wines were exquisite and they even prepared a surprise cake for my leading man, but I had expected the courses to be on par with the ambience of this unique dining experience and am left a little disappointed with the food.Around the hotel – Patpong Night Market
With everything you need in this man-made ‘wonderworld’ of a hotel, we almost have to force ourselves out for a late night stroll. As the kids are sound asleep and we’ve booked the nanny for another couple hours, we take the rare opportunity to roam at our own pace, and head off on foot for about 10 minutes through winding alleyways before hitting the Patpong Night Market on Silom Road.
Fringed by Go-Go bars and red-lit strip clubs, the place is noisy, chaotic and pumping with energy, yet the chaos surprisingly compliments the string of market stalls selling just about everything. The electric vibe has us strolling proudly like we're in our throw-back ‘backpacker’ years BC (before children), and we fit right in with other tourists chugging back Singha beers and sampling the local street fare. If you’ve only got one night to spare in Bangkok, don’t miss the chance to take in the city from the street, and dive into some dirt cheap bargain shopping.
Our only full-day in Bangkok is spent trotting up the road with strollers and sunscreen (it’s bloody hot) to the famed Lumphini Park, a 142 acre public parkland in the heart of the city. Lumphini Park dates back to the 1920s when it was created by King Rama VI and sat on royal ground, and the King’s statue guards the park at the southwestern entrance.
Inside the park, leafy trees offer some escape from the sweltering humidity, surrounding an artificial lake filled with rental paddle boats. The kids have eyes like hungry eagles and spot the playground in the open park almost instantly. We spend the next hour hopping from swings to hanging tyres to burning-metal slides and hubby and I decide there’s only one thing missing from this family friendly paradise – a portable beer and wine cart. Sadly the park is alcohol-free.Pamper time – Banyan Tree Spa
The heat is too much so hubby and kids retreat to the hotel’s sparkling outdoor pool on the 21st floor, but I am sidetracked by floating fragrances of jasmine and herbal tea and find myself slipping off for a Spa session at the world famous Banyan Tree Spa. My personal therapist whisks me away through a sparkling transparent faux bamboo forest into a remarkably calming black and gold hallway hugged by white stones to my divine rejuvenation room.
Trademark Banyan Tree earthy tones warm the space and I am led through the process of selecting incense, oils and scrubs for my treatment which is a sesame honey scrub and balancing massage.
For the next two hours there is no place I would rather be, and I walk out floating on air feeling like Cleopatra in a lost world far from the stresses of kids on airplanes.
If You Go
Rooms: Book the Banyan Tree Club Room and enjoy the club privileges including complimentary snacks, light lunches, beverages and business facilities. If you’ve got kids ask the hotel to arrange a cot or roll-away bed and DO investigate into the baby-sitting service.
Breakfast: The buffet breakfast at the hotel's Romasai restaurant is by far the best I have ever indulged in. Not only do they offer fresh pancakes and a selection of homemade ice-creams (the kids had seconds and thirds), but alongside the plethora of juice choices are sparkling crystal flute glasses standing proud next to chilled champagne – perfect for desperate travelling mothers like myself.
The restaurant offers a phenomenal array of fresh international cuisine cooked fresh and overlooks a rock garden and waterfalls.
Spa: Opt for a unique treatment you might not normally go for – the body scrub left my skin glowing and relaxed and as all therapists are trained at the world-recognized Banyan Tree Spa Academies, you will have one of the best treatments of your life.
Vertigo: Men must wear long pants so take the opportunity to dress-up for a night above the clouds. If you’re short on time slip up for a cocktail at the bar just as the sun sets – the twilight hours above the city are truly remarkable.
Sightseeing with kids: Even if you only have 24 hours, do get out for a walk around with the kids. Make sure you take strollers for the kids and have a few changes of clothes at your ready. The heat can take it out of them so be prepared with water bottles and snacks.