The Thai capital's most exclusive boltholes can be found by the historic Chao Phraya River or perched atop skyscrapers raised by some of the world's most celebrated starchitects.
137 Pillars Suites and Residences, Bangkok
The striking rooftop infinity pool might form the backdrop for the money shot at 137 Pillar Suites and Residences, but it’s the Jack Bain’s Bar at the suite-only property that bids one to linger, what with top-shelf whiskies, an extensive collection of coveted Old World wines, and a flight of cigars from Cuba and Honduras. Sited in the fashionable Thonglor district, this exclusive hideaway with only 34 spacious suites easily becomes a luxe home away from home. Butler service, private wine cellars, and generous balconies go beyond the checklist of what we’ve come to expect from a five-star offering. Plus, access to a fast-track immigration track at the airport means you’ll arrive in the heart of Bangkok even before other travellers flying Business – certainly gives one reason to keep the tab running at this boutique hotel.
Park Hyatt Bangkok
Outside of Rattanakosin, Bangkok’s historic city centre, the glamour of old Siam gives way to the city’s new face of sprawling malls and towering skyscrapers, and luxury marquees such as the Park Hyatt have chosen to roost at the very top of these buildings. The Park Hyatt Bangkok, for one, looks down on the moneyed streets of Phloen Chit, occupying the ninth to 35th floors of Central Embassy Mall. It follows that all 222 guestrooms and 32 suites here enjoy unobstructed views of the city. Inside the hotel, New York and Toronto-based firm Yabu Pushelburg have chosen to keep the palette soft and neutral. Coupled with custom-made furnishings, natural stone, and soaring ceilings in the lobby and dining areas, guests find themselves cocooned in luxury that whispers, not shouts. The Penthouse Bar & Grill, occupying the top three floors of the building, is where titans of industry brush shoulders with the local high society crowd over pedigreed steaks and elaborate cocktails.
Waldorf Astoria, Bangkok
After 125 years, the Waldorf Astoria will finally plant its flag in South-East Asia come the third quarter of 2018. Its city of choice? Bangkok, where it will roost in the THB11 billion Magnolias Ratchadamri Boulevard. First impressions matter and the Waldorf is pulling out all the stops. For one, famed Hong Kong architect Andre Fu has been roped in to lend his eye for this Asian-inspired Waldorf Astoria. The 42-year-old architect (who barely looks a day past 21) who dresses in brogues (opting for low-slung socks that stay below the pinking) and an unusual jacket with concealed buttons, is no stranger to the Waldorf – his earliest memories of it being the art décor elements of the flagship New York landmark. Departing from the Waldorf’s proclivity for gilded opulence, Fu has given the Bangkok property a decidedly more contemporary treatment, sliding in the occasional Thai accent to lend the 171-room-and-suite property a sense of place. Take for example the Front Room, an 80-seater restaurant serving Thai-inspired Nordic cuisine, which will see diners gathering under a cascading installation of 100 glass lanterns suspended from a double-height ceiling, a feature inspired by the Loi Krathong lantern festival.
Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok
With a history stretching back to 1876, the grande dame of luxury hotels in Bangkok has long staked its claim along the Chao Phraya River, bearing witness not only to the Thai capital’s rise as an economic powerhouse in South-East Asia, but cultural icons past and present. Writer John le Carré wrote The Honourable Schoolboy during his stay at the hotel, Joseph Conrad made frequent appearances at the bar, while actor Marlon Brando found repreive in its elegantly-appointed suites. Today, the 12 suites in the refurbished Garden Wing are some of the finest in the city, boasting floor-to-ceiling windows and a contemporary décor touched with Thai silk. The Bamboo Bar continues play host to some of the best jazz performances in the city while gourmands do best to book ahead for a table at the hotel’s two-Michelin-starred French restaurant Le Normandie.
The Peninsula Bangkok
A luxury airport transfer, as defined by The Peninsula Bangkok, takes the form of a vintage Rolls-Royce or helicopter service that bypasses Bangkok’s notorious traffic, dropping you right at the helipad atop the 37-storey building. It’s a grand beginning, setting the tone for more superlative experiences to come. Take for example the duplex suites boasting private terraces and outdoor jacuzzis, offering commanding views of the legendary Chao Phraya River snaking through Bangkok. Then there’s the Thai-inflected afternoon tea, placing classic scones alongside pastries and sweets made from seasonal South-East Asian ingredients.