Bangkok on the Chao Phraya River, from the Temple of Dawn ©Solange Hando
Going to Bangkok? Don't want to sit in traffic jams for hours?
No problem, just choose a hotel by the river and once you are there, you can relax, for there is no better place to stay in the city. Most of the highlights, the main temples, Grand Palace, markets and canals, are close to river and easily accessed by boat, private or public, at amazingly low prices.
You can reach the river front on the sky train from the airport and you will find a few budget venues as well as myriad luxury hotels along the banks.
The Ramada Plaza Menam Riverside, Bangkok ©Solange Hando
The Ramada Riverside has everything you would expect from a 5 star hotel for the price of an average 2 star in London. I loved it. Set well back from the road, it enjoys a quiet location overlooking the' River of Kings', but just a short walk from the Asiatic mall bustling with seafood restaurants and small shops.
The public river bus stops at the nearby pier but the Ramada has its own boat, taking visitors, free of charge, every 30 minutes, to the central pier where there are frequent connections with other boats, water taxis and the sky train. On the return journey, there's just enough time on board for cool towels and chilled water. Nice touch...
The Ramada Swimming Pool ©Solange Hando
After a morning sightseeing, the swimming pool was my favourite place to relax, especially the bar serving delicious salads and cool drinks in a peaceful shaded oasis. There is also a sun terrace and a Wellness and Spa Centre if you fancy a little pampering.
Breakfast is served in the restaurant or on the terrace looking across the river while come lunch or dinner, seafood and international buffets are sure to satisfy the most demanding gourmets. There are 5 restaurants in all, including a Eurasian Grill and one of the most renowned Chinese venues in town, plus a bakery for those naughty but nice moments.
Riverview from a Ramada Grand Deluxe Room ©Solange Hando
The Ramada feels so relaxed you would never believe there are 525 guest rooms, spacious with all mod cons, ranging from deluxe and grand deluxe to suites. It is really worth paying a little extra for a river view, stunning in the early morning light, as above, and at night when bridges and boats are garlanded in golden lights.
But accommodation and food aside, the Ramada stands out for its excellent friendly service and ideal location, close to Bangkok's top attractions, within easy reach of the city centre and the airport, just 40 minutes away.