Once called Krung Thep (City of Angels), the Thai capital is known today as much for its heavenly, gold-tipped temples as for its dizzying street food markets, shopping and breathtaking riverside and rooftop bar views.
Bangkok welcomed a record 38.27 million tourists in 2018, travelling for sightseeing, business, wellness breaks and indulgent weekends eating and drinking in the city’s newest crop of lauded restaurants. And they all need to rest their heads somewhere: two years ago the city claimed to have a stock of more than 10,000 luxury hotel rooms. That figure is set to grow by almost 20 per cent in the next few years with openings, including the 171-room Waldorf Astoria Bangkok (more on that below).
Read on for our pick of the city’s finest places for rest and relaxation after a day out touring temples in Phra Nakhon, basking by the Chao Phraya river or shopping or enjoying the nightlife of Sukhumvit.
A five-star newcomer, opened in March 2019, Rosewood Bangkok welcomes guests with architecture that mimics a wai, the traditional Thai greeting. Each of the 159 guestrooms continues the sense of warm hospitality with a residential-inspired design in gold, ivory and teal, accented with elements of Thai culture in the ornaments, fabrics and fresh flowers. Distinct restaurant options include fine dining at Lakorn European Brasserie; healthy farm-to-table options at G&O; regional Chinese dishes at Nan Bei; and stylish speakeasy Lennon’s, with a whiskey library, 6,000-strong vinyl collection and stunning skyline views. Detox at Sense, A Rosewood Spa, which offers treatments that combine ancient Thai healing practices with contemporary products.
So Sofitel Bangkok
French couturier Christian Lacroix collaborated with Thai designers to put his eclectic style stamp on So Sofitel Bangkok, from the suites’ dramatic textiles to the club lounge’s kaleidoscopic frescos. His role extended to dizzying staff uniforms that he describes as ‘shapes rooted in Thai traditional costumes but with the elegance of the Paris catwalk’. Head to the 10th-floor rooftop bar and pool overlooking Lumpini Park for one of the hippest hangouts in town – especially on the last Saturday of the month, when you can expect guest DJs and drink specials. Nonetheless, the So Sofitel is also family friendly, with 24-hour babysitting services and complimentary strollers.
Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok
Along the Chao Phraya River, away from downtown’s traffic jams, stands the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, a colonial gem dating to 1887. (Guests can still get to the centre of it all in 15 minutes via the Surasak BTS station, and they can hop on a speedboat to various spots along the river.) The Author’s Lounge, named for past guests like Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene, is in the hotel’s oldest wing. Upstairs, individually decorated suites are named for these and other accomplished writers. An airy dining venue hosts afternoon tea, while those on business will appreciate the on-site workstations and boardrooms. After a long day, unwind at The Oriental Spa’s treatment rooms dotted around lotus ponds.
This inviting spot adjacent to the Ratchathewi BTS station offers comfy accommodations along with free and fast Wi-Fi, and generous breakfast spreads with homemade breads and juices. Private rooms with double beds, powerful showers and bespoke soaps epitomise industrial style with their polished concrete walls and exposed pipes. Less expensive yet no less photogenic shared spaces allow for bunking together in four-, six- or eight-bed configurations, including a female-only dorm. Beds have their own night light, electric socket and shelf space, plus a secure luggage locker. Movie nights, local food tours and Buddhist temple ceremonies are among the activities offered by the young, multilingual team.
Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok
Sure, at this hotel you can choose to stay in the low-rise Krungthep Wing, with its gardens, river-facing balconies and access to a private swimming pool. Or you could go for a room with access to the Horizon Club. A wall of windows in the 24th-floor lounge offers captivating views while guests enjoy free-flowing drinks and gourmet edibles, a dedicated concierge, Wi-Fi, newspapers and magazines, and the use of meeting rooms. Those who also book a hotel limousine transfer get the assistance of a hotel representative at the airport on arrival, guaranteed 4pm checkout and the use of a local smartphone.
Bangkok Tree House
Urbanites in need of a restorative overnight stay will find it at Bangkok Tree House. Located at Bang Krachao, a forested island, the hotel is accessible via ferry from Bang Na pier. Typical rooms are boxy wood-and-glass cabins perched on stilts, but you can opt for the one that’s an unenclosed platform in a tree. The eco touch is everywhere, from organic vegetables grown on-site to the solar water-heating system, Supporting the community is also a priority. ‘We give them hospitality training, and they have a chance to give classes to guests on folk crafts like batik dyeing,’ says Tanaporn Wittayasiripaiboon, the hotel’s manager. ‘This is a win-win where guests have fun and our employees can make some extra income.’
Park Hyatt Bangkok
Sitting atop Bangkok’s most talked-about tower is one of Bangkok’s most talked-about hotels. The Park Hyatt brings together Thai craftsmanship, digital technology and sleek modern design to create a lifestyle hub. Behind the dramatic, coiled exterior, 222 accommodations are bathed in natural light from ceiling-height windows. The rooms have large desks for getting work done, if need be, and the suites come with fitness equipment. It’s the closest downtown hotel to the entrance of the expressway that leads to the airport, with Central Embassy mall below for easy shopping and dining. From the infinity pool, gazing across the booming Lumpini neighbourhood, guests feel like they’re floating in the midst of the city.
Old Capital Bike Inn
A palace originally stood on this land granted by Thailand’s revered King Rama V (r. 1868-1910) to an ancestor of current owner Nantiya Tulyanond. After the ensuing six generations, a noodle shop inhabited this prime real estate near the Grand Palace. Around 2006, Tulayanond and her son Jason closed it to debut a bed and breakfast. Ten rooms tastefully balance antique Thai furniture with modern necessities like Wi-Fi and satellite TV. The multilingual duo generously share their considerable local intel with guests and offer free evening tours around this heritage neighbourhood – known as Rattanakosin Island – of mirror-clad Thai Buddhist temples and festive night markets.
Lebua at State Tower
Beware, vertigo sufferers: the open-air, neon-lit Sky Bar is at once spectacular and terrifying. For starters, a section of the bar juts out 250 metres above the urban sprawl of the CBD’s Silom Road far below. The stage, often featuring jazz musicians, looks like it has a sheer drop behind (there’s a hidden glass staircase). The brave can look forward to cocktails like the Sunset 63, made with Absolut 100 vodka, Cointreau, pineapple and orange juice. Lebua at State Tower’s wow factor extends to its two-Michelin-starred restaurant Mezzaluna and the palatial-sized suites with balconies, living rooms and kitchenettes. Two- and three-bedroom options even feature dining rooms and washers and dryers.
Bangkok Marriott Hotel The Surawongse
Bangkok Marriott Hotel The Surawongse provides travellers with both an elegant setting and utilitarian services. The hotel gets its name from its location on Surawong Road, one street over from Silom Road, which anchors the financial district. Within walking distance is the MahaNakhon skyscraper, and you can monitor Bangkok’s modernisation through the wraparound windows overlooking the skyline and river. Thai folk paintings imprinted on glass are found throughout the hotel, accenting otherwise minimalist rooms. After hours, work off any stress at the gym, wind down at the spa or enjoy a cocktail at the compact infinity pool.
Waldorf Astoria Bangkok
Waldorf Astoria made its South East Asia debut in Bangkok with all the drama you’d expect from the brand: a sweeping spiral staircase, golden textiles in the guest rooms and an outdoor pool semi-covered by a giant fan. Andre Fu’s Hong Kong-based studio AFSO focused on art deco motifs, while incorporating subtle Thai references. The result is a luxurious respite at the central Ratchaprasong intersection (nearby MRT stations provide access to the two main airports). Especially handy for time-pressed travellers is the brand’s 24-hour butler service, which can take care of urgent shirt pressings or food cravings.
137 Pillars Bangkok
Shortlisted in 2018’s Marco Polo Club Members’ Choice Awards for Asia’s Most Stylish Hotel, 137 Pillars Bangkok has a lot of pull for visitors looking for a little serenity in city. Set in the heart of fashionable Sukhumvit Thonglor, you’re just minutes away from EmQuartier, a high-end mall packed with big brands and dining options, the nightlife of Thonglor and Phrom Phong BTS station. All 34 suites come with in-room bars and private wine cellars, large balconies and luxurious tubs (with wall-mounted TVs) to slink into after a long day. The rooftop pool – open round the clock – gazes out across the city, while the treatments offered in the Nitra Spa are just the ticket to knead away jet leg or any overindulgences.
The Sukhothai Bangkok has been a fixture of the capital’s luxury hospitality scene since 1991, and continues to be among the city’s most polished hotels. Marco Polo Club members have taken note: The Sukhothai won Asian boutique hotel brand with the best service in 2018’s Marco Polo Club Members’ Choice Awards. Part of the charm is that traditional Thai hospitality and old-school colonial design, complemented with classic Thai touches like gardens, lotus ponds, artworks and gabled roofs. The 210 rooms are luxuriously appointed in dark hardwoods, crisp bed linens and an uncluttered refinement that still includes the usual modern accessories like smart TVs, surround sound speakers and coffee machines.
Constructed as a new build in the capital’s historical quarter, The Siam takes guests back to 19th century Bangkok courtesy of interior designer Bill Bensley. His design marries art deco stylings with traditional artworks and antiques, in bold guest rooms and common areas like the central courtyard and marbled corridors. Guests enjoy complimentary breakfast, butler service and Wi-Fi throughout – as well as skippered cruises to and from Bangkok’s Sathorn Pier (great if you’re not in a rush and want to take the scenic route to Sky Bar, the famed 63rd-floor rooftop bar just minutes from the pier).
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