In Travel

Bangkok’s Best Boutique Hotels For Business Trips

From historic trading port to Southeast Asia’s capital of cool; there’s change afoot in the Thai capital’s hotel scene. While formerly synonymous with beige, lacklustre identikit Asian check-ins (complete with chintzy carpets and same-same lobbies), these days, the Bangkok hospitality scene is, well, buzzing.

Thanks to a burgeoning population of artsy, local young gun hoteliers with an eye for design and detail, the new generation of boutique stays is as far away from the cookie-cutter hotel experience of old as you can get.

So, before you book your Bangkok getaway, read on for three hotels that are guaranteed to bring out your inner architectural geek and inspire grand designs. Forget one night in Bangkok — you’ll need at least three to take these in.

The Siam

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Image: The Siam / supplied

Design digs meets museum at what has often been described as Bangkok’s most beautiful luxury hotel, The Siam.

The passion project of a local celebrity, actor and former indie rocker, this one-of-a-kind luxury property can easily lay claim to being the most unique accommodation in town thanks to the owner’s epic collection of quirky antiques and collectibles.

Chinese pottery from sunken shipwrecks; taxidermy crocodiles, peacocks and tigers; Neolithic bronze bracelets; old typewriters; 16th Century wooden statues of Buddha; and a collection of 30s and 40s vinyl so large that it requires its very own room – this place is packed to the rafters with curios meaning that there’s something remarkable around every corner.

Designed by celebrated hotel guru Bill Bensley (one of Architectural Digest’s ‘top 100 designers’) the decked-out pad fuses Art Deco, traditional Thai, and classic colonial-style aesthetics.  The trove of curiosities is also applied to the interiors of the 39 suites and villas, which all feature massive beds and bathtubs made for two or private pools.

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Image: The Siam / Paul Ewart

Set within some of the best real estate in Bangkok right beside the Chao Phraya River, guests can hop to some of the main sights on the hotel’s free riverboat, or cool off in the 23 metre-long riverside infinity pool. But wait, there’s more.

Other wow-worthy amenities include a small cinema (complete with antique cinema chairs, projectors, cameras and a life-size statue of E.T.); the opulent (and sprawling) Opium Spa, which feels like an ancient Roman pleasure parlour with its plush day beds, marble columns, and melodic water fountains; and in the gym an actual full-size Muay Thai boxing ring where guests can pick up fighting skills from an Olympic Muay Thai trainer.

Lastly – and perhaps most uniquely – is the hotel’s on-site consecrated ‘sak yant’ (sacred tattoo) space. Here, renowned artist (and the former Buddhist monk who inked one of Angelina Jolie’s tattoos) Ajarn Boo draws the permanent religious designs to bestow blessings and good fortune on the wearer. Talk about a souvenir to remember.

Shanghai Mansion

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Image: Shanghai Mansion / supplied

As inner-city urbanites and trendsetters have done across the world for generations, Bangkok’s hipsters are moving into established neighbourhoods and injecting a serious dose of cool, transforming rundown areas into hip hubs. You can see this metamorphosis in action in Chinatown, specifically at quirky boutique hotel, Shanghai Mansion.

Located smack smack in the middle of Yaowarat (the main thoroughfare and Bangkok’s street food Mecca) the 1892 building was originally the first Chinese Opera House in the city, and today it’s current incarnation is clearly paying homage to its theatrical roots.

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Shanghai Mansion / Paul Ewart

Inspired by 1930s Shanghai, the 76 rooms have all been decorated with brightly coloured silks, dark velvet drapes, and heavy Chinese furniture. A standout feature is the floor-to-ceiling atrium, complete with brightly-lit lanterns and a large pond brimming with goldfish.

For eats, in-house Chinese restaurant, Red Rose, is a winner, and then there’s the adjacent Shanghai Terrace. An open-air drinking den that offers a front-row seat onto frenetic Yaowarat Road. Here you can pull up a chair and end your day people-watching to your heart’s content to a soundtrack of a live jazz band.

Ad Lib Bangkok

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Image: Ad Lib Bangkok / supplied

A seriously cool design palette of minimal decor, polished concrete and earth tones, ensures that Ad Lib Bangkok stands out from the crowd.

A literal oasis hidden down a laneway away from Sukhumvit’s hustle and bustle, the 58 rooms are split across a range of categories, from entry-level ‘plush’ through to the 89-square-metre ‘sublime plus’. Geared towards high-rollers, this suite comes with a private jacuzzi, as well as outdoor BBQ and dining area, which takes in the surrounding stunning vista of skyscrapers. 

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Image: Ad Lib Bangkok / supplied

Guests without the appropriate bank balance that’s required to facilitate living the suite life can contend themselves with the stunning rooftop pool on the third floor, which also boasts awesome views.

Business travellers will love the work spaces dotted around the public areas, while caffeine fiends will relish another of the small (and very memorable) touches like the unlimited barista-made coffee delivered to the room and speaking of wake-up calls, other morning fuel to galvanise for the day ahead comes in the form of a killer brekky – a sourdough and avo packed breakfast that’s sure to win over even the most fussy of Bondi Beach dwellers.

(Lead image: The Siam / supplied) 

Published 11 September, 2019