While The Oriental holds court over Bangkok as a veritable institution, I found the Shangri-La to be a luxe and affordable alternative. Like The Oriental, the two-tower hotel is set on the banks of the infamous Chao Phraya River. Chi The Spa at Shangri-La, however, can boast something The Oriental’s spa can’t: some of the largest private suites in Bangkok. Living in New York City where space is at a premium, I was in awe of the spacious treatment areas. While some might argue such space isn’t a necessity, it certainly adds to the grandeur of the experience. Besides, most spas in Thailand forego the usual locker room set-up in favor of guests changing in the treatment room. After surviving Bangkok’s crowded streets, I was thrilled to have a room to call my own, even more so one with a changing area, bathing facilities, and a lounge.
Based on the idea of restoring harmony and balance, the spa features traditional healing therapies from China and the Himalayas. Familiar with a variety of Asian therapies, I was intrigued by the menu’s Himalayan offerings. Unfortunately, the spa’s new Himalayan Wet Treatment Suite was still under construction when I was there. I opted instead for the CHI Balance treatment, which left me feeling centered and relaxed. The Himalayan Wet Treatment Suite has since opened and is the inspired setting for the Himalayan Tsangpo Ritual, a bathing tradition that relies on high-altitude salts and red mountain mud, which is reputed to bring good luck. While I wouldn’t put much stock in a change of fortune, I did find the fact that the spa relies on a small product producer from Nepal for its private label line to be good karma, as both make it a priority to give back to the Himalayan community.