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San Francisco, CA – Luxury Travel Destinations in Asia – Mandarin Oriental – Lux…

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The Oriental opened in 1876 (without the Mandarin tag), replacing a hostel built on crown land which had been a seafarer’s. It was the first luxury hotel in Thailand, and continues its royal connections to this day. The Garden and Writers ‘ Wings were spruced up in 2016, and at the completion of a £ 70-million renovation, the final touches are now being added to the River Side. The concept, which also included remodeling and opening three restaurants (Lord Jim’s, The Verandah and Riverside Terrace), was accomplished by Jeffrey Wilkes, who tackled numerous other Mandarin Orientals, including Hong Kong and Tokyo. The lobby is much brighter now that by installing four similarly shaped chandeliers, the outsize bell-like teak light fittings have been extended, and the two swimming pools show in a view of the river that looks almost like a mirage. While part of the attraction of the hotel is its long and rich history, it derives much of its character from its location, in the earshot of the throaty engines of the ferries and the eldritch whistles of their coxswains, and with a grandstand view of the ever-changing cavalcade of other vessels.

Start with the balcony: spacious enough to accommodate a daybed and give a show-stop view no matter on which floor you are staying. Inside, the leitmotif of the furniture is Thai but it’s not overemphatic: hammered brass sculptures, teak flooring and rich fabrics from Jim Thompson (incidentally, he once owned The Oriental) are set off by crisp white wooden panels and large mirrors that play with the light streaming through the floor-to-ceiling windows. A roomy bath is bordered by marble floors and concave green wall tiles; a bathroom and loads of storage space are also offered. Mandarin’s own facilities come in natty aluminum bottles (throughout the house, plastic is seen with pursed lips). Technology makes a discreet appearance, and at the slightest indication of human approach, there is a Japanese loo which obligatorily raises its lid. Genies, or butlers, manifest themselves at the touch of a bedside button, while minimal assistance is needed to open the artisanal spirits of the minibar (Chalong Bay white rum, Grandma Jinn’s gin).

It would be unfair to single out Le Normandie out of the 11 restaurants and bars here just because it has two Michelin stars (one mouthful of the venison with pear and fennel should have been enough to persuade the inspectors), as they are all outstanding! The block’s newest kid is Kinu–Kyoto-style cooking conceived by chef Takagi Kazuo and given a delicate twist to Thai. In The Writers’ Lounge, set aside for an hour or more for afternoon tea. With fresh coconuts, mango and sticky rice and lightly spiced chicken and ham sides to go with the hash browns and eggs, breakfast by the river gets the day off powerfully.

The Oriental does much of the catering of the royal family, hi-so Thais greatly prefer the house. Historical elements attract Europeans and Americans, as well as a dispersion of affluent independent Chinese tourists, while the nearby artistic district is an art crowd draw.

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San Francisco County: San Francisco, CA

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San Francisco, CA – Luxury Travel Destinations in Asia – Mandarin Oriental – Luxury Travel Tips