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The Oriental is the one hotel everyone has heard of before they come to Bangkok. The city's oldest and best-known hotel has been frequented by Thai royalty and glitterati, as well as a long roster of sports and film stars. Established in 1876, the hotel's original building has evolved into a modern, functional venue known for its exceptional service.

And though it's facing some stiff competition from recently opened luxury hotels, this venerable place just seems to get better with age. Over the years it has added a couple of swimming pools, a new wing, a venue for dinner shows, and a superb spa. The oldest part of the hotel, the Garden Wing and Author's Lounge, have been beautifully preserved. As you'd expect, rooms are sumptuously furnished, with deep, soft couches, wooden cabinets, lacquerware bowls, ceramic vases, and fresh-cut flowers. In fact, it's easy to imagine Joseph Conrad sitting in a corner penning one of his exciting tales, as he once did. There are modern touches aplenty though. For example, the bathrooms  mirrors have a heated panel behind part of them so that stay unfogged while steam from the shower wafts through the room (a plus for shavers).

Several of its nine restaurants are among the city's top dining venues. Even if you don't stay here, consider a meal in La Normandie, a dinner show at Sala Rim Nam, or a cocktail while listening to some cool jazz in the Bamboo Bar.