Melanie Morris: I'm just back from Mary's luxury Thai hotel. The only trolley she saw carried her lavish desserts
Let me quote what the Lonely Planet Guide to Thailand says about the Bangkok hotel Mary Harney recently stayed in ... "OUR PICK: The Peninsula Hotel. After a decade in Bangkok, The Pen still seems to have it all: the location (towering over the river in Thonburi, the rep (it's consistently one of the highest-ranking luxury hotels in the world), and one of the highest levels of service in town."
Lonely Planet is right. It's an amazing hotel. I know because I stayed there just over a week ago. So recently, in fact, I could've met Ms Harney checking in as we handed back the keys to our incredible room.
She is obviously a woman with excellent taste in hotels, and I commend her for it. The hotel is 38 storeys high and boasts a number of amazing restaurants, several of which look right on to the bustling river, where The Peninsula's private, fairy-lit boats, complete with armchairs and liveried staff, ferry guests back and forth to a variety of piers every five minutes.
Even one of the basic rooms, like the one I stayed with my newly-crowned fiance (yes, we got engaged on our Thai holiday -- hence the luxury of The Peninsula), has all sorts of perks. A river view, overlooking busy Bangkok, wine -- or champagne -- on ice on arrival, stunningly presented fruit bowls, tins of the hotel's divine cookies and a carafe of freshly squeezed orange juice, plus bottled water, to keep one hydrated.
And, at turn-down time, they don't put a chocolate on your pillow at night. Oh no. A stunning little cake stand appears, offering gold leaf embellished macaroons, or indulgent handmade petit fours.
But perhaps Mary stayed in a deluxe suite, where even the loo -- separate to the main bathroom -- had its own panoramic view. Or she could've gone all-out and chosen one of the themed suites, which I couldn't get in to see as they were booked up. I did get a glimpse of the Aviation Lounge though, on the 37th storey of the hotel, which services the helipad on the roof. One of the few landing places for 'copters in Bangkok's centre.
No stranger to private aviation, perhaps Ms Harney -- like many of The Peninsula's exalted guests -- might have got a chopper straight from Suvarnabhumi airport to the hotel?
Bangkok's traffic is notoriously busy, so this would have been a lifesaver after the long-haul flight.
Another lifesaver would be the three-floor luxury spa in The Peninsula. It offers complete wellness and pampering, plus there's an adjacent hair and beauty salon for big night out get-readies. And we do know how Mary likes to get her hair done when abroad.
As far as medical services go, Ms Harney needn't worry about her VHI cover whilst at The Peninsula, because they have their very own on-call nurse. No. I didn't see any trolleys littering the hotel corridors during my stay, other than those creaking under lavish desserts - but I did watch the nurse attend to an American guest's cut leg as he soaked up the rays in a shady cabana, beside the hotel pool, with a Long Island Ice Tea in his hand.
The only fault in Ms Harney's travel plans I could see, was the length of her stay. She chose three nights at The Peninsula while I chose four.
Why? Because at the moment, the hotel is offering a two nights for the price of one. Thus, basically halving the per-night cost of a stay at this incredible hotel as long as one stays an even number of nights. So, with her three night booking, Ms Harney would be automatically entitled to a fourth free night, complete with the amazing, riverside buffet breakfast. Silly Mary! She threw away a bargain that wouldn't have cost anyone anything. Oops.
Maybe when she returns, I can pass on this, and other tips I garnered to make one's euro stretch a little further in Thailand. In these cash-strapped times, I'm sure she'd be keen to know how to get more five star for her savings.
Then again, she may have a few more pressing things to attend to first ...