When Siam opened to foreign trade after the signing of the Bowring Treaty the sailors that populated the ships which conveyed this trade though Bangkok required accommodation on shore. To meet this demand Captain Dyers, an American and his partner J.E. Barnes opened a hotel called the Oriental Hotel. In 1881 29 year old Hans Niels Andersen, a Danish businessman bought the premises . Andersen identified a need for a respectable hotel with good accommodation, a bar and a western menu to meet the needs of travellers and businessmen visiting to Siam.
Encouraged by Prince Prisdang Jumsai, Hans Niels Andersen formed a partnership with Peter Andersen and Frederick Kinch to build a luxury hotel. Designed by Cardu & Rossi, a team of local Italian architects, the Oriental was the first luxury hotel in Siam. The hotel opened on 19 May 1887 with 40 rooms and features which at the time had never been seen in Siam outside of a royal palace: a second floor (during a time of single storey bungalows), carpeted hallways, smoking and ladies rooms, a billiards room and a bar capable of seating 50 The first major event that the hotel hosted was a grand banquet on 24 May 1888 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria..
A succession of owners followed until Marie Maire took over the ownership in 1910. She immediately went to work revamping the hotel. She sold it in 1932. During the Second World War the hotel was leased to the Japanese Army who used it as an officers club .
The hotel reopened for business on 12 June 1947. Krull turned out to be a natural hotelier and during her reign restored the hotel to it position as the premier hotel in Thailand. Thompson soon left the partnership over a plan to build a new wing, though he stayed on in residence at the hotel for some time. To compete with popular clubs and a new local bar called Chez Eve, Krull established the Bamboo Bar, which soon became one of the leading bars in Bangkok.
In 1958 the ten storey Garden Wing was built. It featured the city’s first elevator and was home to the Le Normandie Restaurant In 1967 fearful that Thailand would fall to the communists Krull sold her share to Italthai which at the time was well on its way to becoming one of the country’s most significant mercantile groups eventually totally some 60 companies involved in almost all aspects of the Thai economy.
Italthai had been founded in the mid-fifties by Giorgio Berlingieri, an Italian born in Genoa and Dr Chaijudh Karnasuta, a Thai. Berlingieri felt that the Oriental had begun to rest on its laurels and had dropped behind its competitors. He wanted to develop the Oriental into one of the best hotels in the world. Too involved with his various businesses to devote time to the project Berlingieri in November 1967 appointed 30 year old Kurt Wachtveitl (1937 -), at that time manager of Nipa Lodge, (a hotel that Italthai owned in Pattaya) as general manager of the Oriental.
In 1972 the hotel acquired an adjacent property upon which it erected the 350 room River Wing.In 1974 the company’s hotel interests expanded further through the acquisition of a 49% interest in The Oriental, Bangkok. The Oriental, built in 1876, was already a legendary property and acknowledged as one of the world’s great hotels. Through the management of both The Mandarin in Hong Kong and The Oriental, Bangkok, the Group was in an unusual position of having two “flagship” hotels whose names represented the best in hospitality
The hotel opened its renowned Oriental Spa in 1993 and finished a complete renovation of its rooms and suites in 2003. In 2006, The Oriental, Bangkok celebrated its 130th anniversaryIn September 2008, the hotel formally changed its name from The Oriental, Bangkok to Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok.
The hotel contains 358 rooms and 35 unique suites. The two-story Authors’ Wing, the only remaining structure of the original 19th century hotel, houses suites named after Joseph Conrad, Somerset Maugham, Noel Coward and James Michener. The River Wing contains deluxe two bedroom suites named after former guests or personages associated with the hotel including Barbara Cartland, Gore Vidal, Graham Greene, Wilbur Smith, John le Carré, Jim Thompson, Captain Anderson, Norman Mailer, Giorgio Berlingieri and Thai author Kukrit Pramoj.
Other suites are named after ships associated with the early Bangkok trade such as Otago (once captained by Joseph Conrad), HMS Melita, Vesatri and Natuna.
The hotel is a favorite of celebrity visitors to Bangkok. Joseph Conrad, Somerset Maugham, Noel Coward, Graham Greene, John le Carré, Barbara Cartland, and James A. Michener are among the famous authors who have stayed at the Oriental.
MANDARIN ORIENTAL BANGKOK