One of the world's grandest hotels, this river landmark started life as a lodge for European traders, which burnt down in 1865. Two Danish naval captains, Jarck and Salje, rebuilt it 11 years later and soon attracted the cultured guests for which it's famed. In 1887 another Dane, HN Anderson, upgraded the hotel with what is now the Authors' Wing, containing suites named after writer-guests from an unknown Joseph Conrad to Somerset Maugham, Noel Coward, Graham Greene, John le Carré and, er, Barbara Cartland.
Although the Oriental feels a tad dated, little beats its superior dining and drinking places: Le Normandie's silver service French cuisine, sublime seafood at Lord Jim's, China House and the jazzy Bamboo Bar. Two venues count as city sights: high tea in the Author's Lounge, and cocktails on the riverbank terrace. Ferries shuttle you to the BTS, River City and the Oriental Spa, and Sala Rim Nam restaurant, which stages Khon dance nightly. There are no sandals allowed, so dress up for this piece of living history.