Sip a Mekong Mai Tai, enjoy a light breeze while gazing at the Chao Phraya River and sense the vibrancy of the capital of the Kingdom of Siam… Welcome to the ibis Riverside Bangkok! This establishment takes its name from its remarkable location on the banks of the river that runs through Thailand’s capital city.
The Mekong Mai Tai, a local cocktail meticulously prepared by the bar team, reflects the city’s languid, mysterious atmosphere. “Bangkok is a city of contrasts. It is dynamic as well as soothing, a city that is lively both by day and by night,” explains Jean-Louis Barc, the hotel’s General Manager.
On the banks of the River of Kings
The ibis Riverside Bangkok, which was built in 2009, is an L-shaped, 7-storey building. Most of its 266 rooms have a river view. “People instantly feel comfortable here, compared with the city-center, which can rapidly feel suffocating.” The atmosphere in the surrounding district is also very pleasant: it is the first international economy hotel surrounded by five star establishments. A few meters away, guests can visit Asiatique, a former trading port that has been transformed into a night bazaar, and is now a favorite tourist shopping destination.
Arrive in a refitted tuk-tuk
The hotel, which is 10-15 minutes from Bangkok’s city center, is easily accessible by Skytrain, the city’s elevated rapid transit system. Customers then travel from the station to the hotel in a special shuttle service. “This small, open-topped car, which looks like a truck with seats, can carry 10 people. It’s a kind of modern tuk-tuk and a way of welcoming our guests,” explains the enthusiastic General Manager.
A treasure trove
“Visitors come to Bangkok firstly, because it’s great value and secondly, because of its cultural and culinary riches.” At the hotel, local cuisine is given pride of place. The menu, which is available 24/7, features typical local dishes as well as international cuisine prepared by a Thai chef. Several times a week, the restaurant serves a buffet which notably comprises seafood, regional shellfish and wood-fire grilled fresh fish. “We also encourage guests to try Thai specialties. They are presented like tapas, in small portions, as an invitation to a culinary journey around the country.” On the menu: Phad-Kaprao, a tasty stir-fried chicken, beef or pork dish; Tom-Yum-Talay, a spicy shrimp soup; Som-Tum, the green papaya salad and the nation’s famous traditional Pad Thaï noodle dish.
Relaxation and well-being
The hotel terrace is a favorite spot for a drink, a meal or simply for relaxing in a deckchair. It boasts a stunning view and can cater for 50 to 60 people. It is also a very popular venue for events such as receptions, weddings and business gatherings. “Every New Year, you have to book in advance to be able to watch the huge city fireworks display that is put on for the occasion.” Visitors can also saunter through the tropical garden, under the palms and scented, flowering frangipani trees. The hotel’s outdoor pool, which is also on the river’s edge, and children’s playground are just a stone’s throw from the garden. “We also have our own Thai massage Sala and professional masseur.”
The hotel is surrounded by several temples on Charoen Nakhon Road. The Pataya region’s historic sites are also very near. Guests can enjoy boat excursions on the river and along the city’s “klongs”, the network of ancient canals that earned Bangkok its nickname of “Venice of the East”. “I discover new things every day in Bangkok, in the old city as well as in the modern districts. There are hundreds of sumptuous Buddhist temples, hidden palaces, etc. The city never ceases to impress me,” acknowledges Jean-Louis Barc.
Women make up most of the hotel’s team of 90 employees. “Our very dynamic team is remarkable for its kindness and constant smiles. It’s the hallmark of the Thai people: they are extremely obliging,” confides the General Manager. “We have developed multi-tasking within the team, which gives employees greater responsibility and wider career development prospects.”
A powerful, attractive brand
“Many of our guests return after their first stay with us.” Accor, which operates 24 hotels in Bangkok and 50 in Thailand, is currently expanding rapidly. “The ibis Riverside Bangkok appeals to French travelers in particular. Our guests travel mostly for leisure and consist of Europeans, Australians and Asians.” The twelve family rooms which include a double bed and a bunk bed are taken by storm during long week-ends and holidays. Some visitors choose the establishment because of its pet-friendly policy. “Dogs under 10 kilos are welcome!” confirms Jean-Louis Barc. The hotel’s ever-growing business clientele is attracted by its fully-equipped meeting rooms.
The festival of lights
The best time to stay at the ibis Riverside Bangkok continues to be during the Loi Krathong festival which is celebrated on the night of the full moon of the twelfth month of the Thai lunar calendar. After a generous dinner of Thai specialties on the terrace, guests are invited to admire the beautiful sight of flower crowns and lanterns floating delicately down the river. “This major annual festival is an absolute must. It’s a feast for the eyes, an absolutely enchanting event…” In fact Bangkok is all together dazzling.