Why go to Thailand to stay in The Peninsula when the original is in Hong Kong? It might share the same name and brand, but The Peninsula Bangkok is a very different creature from the original. There's no fleet of Rolls-Royces and no queues snaking around the block for afternoon tea. Rather, this is a distinctly Thai destination, from its cuisine to its spa treatments to its setting, overlooking the Chao Phraya River. With direct flights and a 40-minutre transfer from airport to hotel, it's also extremely handy for a Friday to Sunday weekend getaway from Hong Kong - and, with relatively low occupancy rates in Bangkok because of the political turmoil, you shouldn't find yourself within sight of a queue inside or outside the hotel. It's not exactly in the heart of the city though, is it? No. In contrast to the Hong Kong property, with its bustling Tsim Sha Tsui setting, this hotel is on the wrong side of the water from most of its city's big shopping centres, temples and other attractions, which does put some party-loving visitors off. There's a regular and rather classy Peninsula boat service that crosses the Chao Phraya, but the hotel itself does feel a little cut off from the rest of Bangkok - which is fine if you're happy to spend your weekend luxuriating in a hotel that has a pretty spiffy, meandering outdoor swimming pool with all sorts of bridges and channels. Don't the extras on your bill mount up if you spend all your time there? Most definitely: it's a five-star hotel and the prices in the restaurants and bars emphatically reflect that. One British guest complained recently on TripAdvisor that a small beer cost him the equivalent of nearly £10 (HK$125) once tax was added. But the food is exquisite, the staff are terrific, the setting for the riverside restaurant is stunning - and, in fairness, if you fret over the price of a beer, you shouldn't really be booking into The Peninsula in the first place. What are the rooms like? Their best feature is the view across the river. The hotel is 16 years old and the decor feels a little beige and dated, as do the bathrooms; mini televisions above bathtubs might have seemed the height of luxury in the 1990s but now they look just a little bit naff. The rooms were smartened up for the 15th anniversary last year, I'm told, but are very much a product of their time. Is it safe to visit Thailand these days? As safe as it ever is: OK, so there are occasional military coups and tourist murders but, when you consider the sheer volume of foreign visitors, you're probably going to be perfectly safe. The country is subject to an amber travel alert from the Hong Kong government, which means "exercise caution", but then so are Malaysia, Japan, India and Myanmar, and, frankly, you'd never leave your front door if you paid any attention to those warnings. One thing about being in The Peninsula is that even if there were the bloodiest of revolutions going on downtown, you are so exquisitely isolated from the action, you'd probably carry on sipping on your poolside pina colada, blissfully unaware of any unpleasantness. The hotel promotes itself as an "urban oasis on the River of Kings" - and an oasis it certainly is, albeit one where quenching your thirst can prove to be an eye-wateringly expensive business. If the drinks are that much, what do the rooms cost? Well, not as much as you might imagine; they start at HK$2,400 a night. For more information and bookings, go to bangkok.peninsula.com .