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The Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Bangkok - Afternoon Tea at the Authors' Lounge
You don't need an afternoon tea invitation to the Authors' Lounge, The Oriental Hotel, Bangkok, you can just call in.
The Oriental Hotel is situated at 48 Oriental Avenue, Bangkok 10500, Thailand and is also accessible from the Chao Phraya River by Oriental's ferry services from Central Pier or River World.
We visited the The Oriental Hotel, Bangkok for Afternoon Tea, in February 2008 as a casual visitor and can recommend anyone visiting Bangkok to partake of this traditional English institution in the old world 'colonial' style charm of the Authors' Lounge.
The Authors' Lounge is an airy wing of the hotel beneath the Authors' Suites with two ante rooms, the Trophy Room, and the Reading Room. This is the oldest part of the hotel, opened in 1887 as the original Oriental Hotel and is today considered by many to be the soul of the new hotel, elegant but never flashy.
The Oriental was the first luxury hotel in old Siam that has, over the years, been frequented by a large number of world famous writers as well as other celebrities. A select few authors have given their names to suites such as Joseph Conrad, Somerset Maugham, James Michener and Noel Coward within the Authors' Suite 'named' suites, that conjour up the dreams and illusions of bygone days. Other authors have lent their names to suites in the River Wing.
We won't go into the full history of afternoon tea here but it has been a tradition since the seventh Duchess of Bedford decided to take hot tea and cakes in the afternoon, early in the 1800s.
We opted to try both full afternoon tea set menus, one of us had the Traditional menu with coffee and the other had the Oriental Thai menu with tea. The tea stands were loaded with finger sandwiches, cake, brulee, pastries, plain and raisin scones with fresh cream and a selection of jams. The extravagance was added to with refreshing lime sorbet starters. The Traditional Afternoon Tea Set was rich fare with refined 'western' flavours, the Oriental Thai Afternoon Tea Set had many interesting local ingredients without a chili in sight. We enjoyed both tea sets and found the quantity provided very filling and the quality was terrific. Without anything added to it, tea has no calories! So technically that means you’re entitled to another of those cream cakes.
If you don't want to take the full blown set menus, you can take just tea, coffee or other hot or cold beverages and add sorbets, cakes, pastries or ice cream dishes a-la-carte as desired.
This small treat is not an expensive foray into the colonial style past and you can understand why so many writers have taken inspiration from the place.
The atmosphere within the Authors' Lounge was cool and refined, with the quiet accompaniment of soothing classical guitar music, played by an accomplished musician seated on the top landing above the lounge area.
The Oriental Bangkok has long been known for its service, style, elegance and grace without being stuffy at all. The staff we came across were very polite, professional and very helpful.
We found that the hotel has its feet on both banks of the Chao Phraya River, connected by a regular hotel ferry service from private jetties. The main 393 room and suites hotel is on the east bank where the Authors' Wing, Garden Wing, River Wing, two swimming pools and the Business Centre cluster around the Main Lobby. On the west bank of the river there are 'resort amenities' consisting of the renowned Sala Rim Naam classic Thai pavilion, Thai Cooking School, Health and Fitness Centre, Oriental Spa, Racquet courts and even a private jogging track.
There are no less than eight restaurants and bars serving guests at the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok:
Le Normandie - probably Asia's finest French restaurant.
Lord Jim's - Sea food and international dishes.
The Verandah Coffee Shop - from 0600hrs serving continental breakfasts and later coffee and cakes etc.
Riverside Terrace - BBQ dinner from 1900hrs.
Bamboo Bar - one of the best live jazz venues from 2200hrs. Monday through Saturday as well as bar service at other times.
Authors' Lounge - afternoon tea from mid-day to 1800hrs.
The China House - Chinese restaurant for Cantonese food or a dim sum buffet lunch.
Sala Rim Naam - classic Thai dining experience, buffet lunch and set dinner with a Thai classical dance show.
If you have a special occasion you wish to celebrate in style, the Oriental, Bangkok is certainly the place for you. You will be looked after from the moment you step through the door. Enjoy your afternoon tea party!
Many of the photos are courtesy of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Bangkok - www.mandarinoriental.com
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