From the lavish Sukhumvit district to Khao San Road, the infamous backpacker hub, the capital of Thailand has just as wide a variety of neighborhoods as it does lodging.
This stunning, antique-laced property on the Chao Praya River recalls the time of King Rama V (1853-1910), a period when Bangkok was a tranquil, smog-free riverside idyll. Since opening in 2012, the accolades have been rolling in from travel rags around the world.
With great restaurants, a poolside bar, muay Thai gym and spa, this 39-room resort set on three acres is almost a vacation unto itself. Though a bit of a hike from the city center, there’s a regular hotel-operated ferry that shuttles guests to the Taksin pier, where they can jump on the BTS Skytrain.
Mandarin Oriental Bangkok
This Bangkok institution is a step back to a time when luggage was carried in trunks, dinner dress was de rigueur (tropics or not) and tea on the veranda was served with a stiff G&T to ward off mosquitoes.
More than 100 years old, the Oriental’s Author’s Wing retains its magical aura with its picturesque parlors, each named for a scribe they once hosted, including the likes of Somerset Maugham, Joseph Conrad and Ernest Hemingway.
The Garden Wing offers similar heights of nostalgic luxury, while the modern River Wing and Tower have a more contemporary design. And if it weren’t patently obvious from the never-ending stream of awards rained upon this five-star, best of Bangkok landmark, high tea in the Mandarin Oriental’s library is simply too civilized for the mere words of us regrettably nonfamous authors.
St. Regis Bangkok
Nearly a quarter of the 227 guest rooms at this elegant property are suites. This should give you an idea of the level of comfort to which the St. Regis aspires and generally attains.
A specialty is off-site activities geared toward “the artistic visionary, the epicurean voyager, the passionate connoisseur.” Care for a deep-sea fishing trip with one of the hotel’s celebrated chefs? A private Fendi shopping trip? The hotel will arrange it.
W Hotel Bangkok
Wonderful guest room.
The stylish W concept remains intact at this 407-room hotel (“chili-hot nightlife” is advertised) located on Bangkok’s Embassy Row near a vibrant commercial district.
Rooms are basic but fully wired and come with good robes and a Munchie Box. Bathrooms come with rainforest showers. City-view room views are nice.
With the opening of Mode Sathorn, [email protected] gets the second design hotel in its Bangkok portfolio, which the brand is somewhat predictably characterizing as “fashionable lifestyle.”
The property has 201 rooms and suites in five categories, each featuring a different design concept, plus a presidential suite on the 36th floor. F&B offerings come in the form of three restaurants and three bars.
Theatre Bar is the standout thanks to a circular TV screen and three areas segregated by your poison of choice, be it wine, beer or cocktails. As with its sister hotel, Mode Sathorn features a rooftop bar. If live DJs in al fresco vogue settings aren’t your thing, Secret M has a private indoor dining cove one floor below.
Galleria 10 Hotel Bangkok
Formerly the Ramada Encore, the Galleria 10 is a 188-room, chrome-and-glass hotel with modern furnishings. It’s geared toward “always-on-the-go” business travelers, with high-speed Internet access included in the room rate, 40-inch LCD TV with satellite channels, good-sized working areas, direct dial telephones and HDMI easy plug-in. There are some nice outdoor spaces for drinks around the pool.
Bangkok Treehouse’s “View with a Room.”
Bangkok Tree House
Inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden,” the 12-suite Bangkok Treehouse allows guests to get back to nature in Bang Krajao, the “green lungs of Bangkok.” Guests arrive via a dedicated shuttle boat across the Chao Phraya, disembarking onto a floating pontoon overlooked by the hotel’s gourmet organic restaurant.
Each standard suite is divided into three levels (living room, bedroom and roof deck), offering views of the surrounding river, mangroves and coconut plantations. Inside, the rooms are comfortable and cozy, with all the expected features (TV, DVD, Wi-Fi) and optional air-conditioning.
Loy La Long
Quirky and comfy, the seven color-coded rooms at this two-story wood property on the edge of Chinatown range from a four-bedroom family dorm (guests pay per bed) to the river-view suite that allows you to wake up to the sight of barges floating past — along with the occasional roaring longtail engine.
There’s a fantastic “living room,” where guests can park on a floor cushion and watch the life on the river pass by. Near Tha Tien Pier, Loy La Long is hidden behind a temple complex right on the edge of Chinatown. Not easy to find, but the payoff is worth it.
Lub D proves that being on a budget doesn’t have to mean losing out on style or location. There are two Lub D “hostels” in Bangkok, both rocking an industrial chic design. The original is on Decho Road, off Silom.
The newer Siam location is opposite National Stadium, close to the BTS SkyTrain and a short walk to Siam Square and the malls of Rajaprasong. It has four-bed dorms, economy twin rooms, doubles and, our favorite, a queen-bed suite with a private bathroom and LCD TV. The Wi-Fi is free and the beer cheap. You won’t find those attributes in too many five-star establishments.