Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Oriental

In a month of 'lasts', today was my last visit to the Oriental Hotel... for lunch, courtesy of close colleagues, Mallika, Dao, Ai and Laila. It regularly wins World's Best Hotel accolades, but its Normandie restaurant does a surprisingly good-value set-lunch. Amazing food aside, what I really like about the Oriental is its setting on the river, the gorgeously romantic lobby and its history.
It's the oldest hotel in Thailand (1876), was the first building to have a lift and early guests included Joseph Conrad, Somerset Maugham, Noel Coward and Graham Greene. Appropriately, the oldest part is now known as the Authors' Lounge - all white cane and fading photographs - which fronts on to a lovely garden. And in that, there's a big cage with two mina birds who occasionally caw "Sawatdi kaa" or "Good morning". Afternoon tea is a must-do. But perhaps the most impressive fact is that the General Manager, gentle giant Kurt Wachtveitl, has been running the place since 1967!

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