The Bangkok Business Hotel That’s Anything But Bland
If you judged on first impressions, you would walk straight by Hotel Indigo Bangkok Wireless Road without giving it a second thought.
On outward appearance, the hotel doesn’t look out of place amongst the neighbouring business hotels. But step inside, and it’s evident this is no run-of-the-mill corporate stay.
“People look so surprised when they get to the lobby,” says Thanit Isaramongkolpant, marketing and communications manager at Hotel Indigo Bangkok. “When people see our hotel from outside, it seems solemn. But, when they enter our hotel, it is so new and unique from the other hotels that they’ve been to.”
Guests are greeted in the lobby by a bright yellow, pedal power tuk tuk, a precariously balanced tower of vintage TVs and an oversized wingback chair. Every corner of the space is filled with local trinkets and vintage mementos, giving it personality and life most business hotels lack. It’s a stark contrast to the hotel that’s presented on the street.
Hotel Indigo Bangkok sits at the site of the birthplace of Thai radio, and they do their utmost to honour that fact.
There are subtle nods to radio throughout the hotel; nods that can easily be overlooked in the face of more prominent design features. Their radio roots are woven into the colourful, switchboard-like staff uniforms, built into the water feature as abstract waves, and included in the guest welcome as a morse code “sawasdee” on the door handles.
With far less subtlety, those roots are also on display in the extensive collection of vintage radios on the wall opposite the lifts. “We see almost every guest take a photo at the radio wall,” says Isaramongkolpant. “It’s a very photogenic spot.”
The influence radio has on the design at Hotel Indigo Bangkok runs deep, but it doesn’t single-handedly define the overall aesthetic. Isaramongkolpant describes the hotel’s design as “a combination of vintage details and modern materials, that share the neighbourhood’s contrasting story of technology and tradition.”
It sounds jumbled and disjointed in theory, but the hotel makes it work in perfect, quirky harmony.
In the rooms, brightly hued furniture and soft furnishings reference the Thai silk trade. They’re a fun, bold contrast to the warm, rok fa wood floors – an unusual, but very welcome feature in an inner-city hotel.
Gold fixtures in the bathrooms add a modern twist, but also hark back to the royal history, mimicking the gold of the rooftop at the Thai royal residence. Even the room numbers get a touch of the local Thai story, proudly displayed on each door as tuk tuk number plates.
To Hotel Indigo Bangkok, every stock-standard grey couch, or mauve feature wall, is a missed opportunity to tell their rich neighbourhood story.
With such huge importance placed on storytelling, it comes as no surprise that the hotel’s bars and restaurants follow a similar narrative.
On the second floor, the Metro on Wireless restaurant takes its cues from the most celebrated local street food. Their east-meets-west menu combines tradition, and the finesse that comes with 20 years of cooking in upscale Bangkok eateries, resulting in a selection just as colourful as the head chef, Chamlong ‘Jimmy’ Pewthaisong.
Just like the chef, the fare served up is spicy and bold. There are Thai staples like duck larb, sweet and juicy grilled river prawns, and a traditional pandan and coconut pudding, that has its origins in the royal kitchen.
On the rooftop, at Char Rooftop Bar, the east plays second fiddle to the west, resulting in some of the most interesting fusion dishes in the hotel. Think tom yum goong fries, piled high with prawns and tom yum mayo, and a salmon sashimi salad with glass noodles and mixed herbs – all to be enjoyed over some of the best views in the house.
Though the hotel is central to a business district, it couldn’t feel further from the suits and ties.
Hopping from Hotel Indigo Bangkok’s Char Rooftop bar to the next is easy when the neighbourhood is brimming with chic bars, fine dining, and “some of the best jazz bars in Bangkok”. Isaramongkolpant credits his Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej for the active jazz scene in the area.
She explains he was a keen saxophone player, having “played with Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, and socialized with another famous music king, Elvis Presley, in his time”.
(All images: hotelindigo.com)
Published 22 October, 2019