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Not only did we ogle Rosewood London last week (hopefully just phase one in Europe for the group), we also picked up some additional news: a first few snapshots of the rooms at Rosewood Beijing (coming next year) and the exciting update that another hotel is being planned for Bangkok.
Both hotels sound like they will be rather unique; the building in Beijing “will recall a mountain profile with contrasting volumes and shapes” and Bangkok promises 650-square foot Pool Sky Villas, with large terraces and private plunge pools (!!).
Thailand may be famous for its gorgeous silk (among many other things), but a key figure that is credited with saving the silk industry from extinction is actually from the good ol’ USA: Jim Thompson, an American businessman with a rather interesting life story, complete with a still unsolved disappearance in 1967.
His Bangkok home is an enduring tourist attraction, and you’ll find references to his life and eponymous company around the city. One such place is the Four Seasons Bangkok, where – aside from beautiful silk murals anyone can admire in the lobby – there is the swanky Jim Thompson Explorer Suite, spreading over 2,000 square feet with head-on views of the Royal Bangkok Sports Club across the street.
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Bangkok has many fantastic hotels, both historic and brand-spanking new, that are reasonably affordable by many other cities’ standards. We’ve told you Hyatt is showing the city some love the next few years, with a Park Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, and Hyatt Place all popping up to give the existing Grand Hyatt Erawan some company.
All that hotel newness nearby (the Park Hyatt is literally around the corner) means the Erawan has been getting busy redoing its 380 rooms and suites to keep up. The second phase of the revamp will be done later this year (more on that in a second), but make your way up to the 5th floor i.sawan spa, wander outside past the pool and you will find something unexpected: a small garden courtyard with a cluster of resort-like spa cottages in the middle of the frenetic city.
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So Worth It? A HotelChatter Review
After giving you a peek at the hotel couture the Sofitel So Bangkok serves up with their uniforms, now we can reveal the full details of the property, and we have to say, this Sofitel is a doozy. Allow us to break it down for you:
Lobby Layout: The main lobby is located on the ninth floor and after being a bit confused how everything worked, we finally walked into a large room with a giant wooden slab reception desk and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Lumphini Park. With plenty of cozy seating, the lobby doubled as the bar featuring bespoke cocktails in a super chic lounge setting.
Check-in: Keeping up with current trend of having a seat while checking-in, we settled into one of the plush sofas and sipped our welcome drink of lemongrass and cucumber while handing over our passport and credit card for incidentals. The process was speedy and efficient and still warm and welcoming.
There's no question we were enamored with all of the shiny objects the W Bangkok had to offer us from the moment we stepped foot into gem-toned guest room. The one thing that managed to take us away from the glitz and glam trance was on the bedside table. No, it wasn't the notepad and pen, it was their high-tech wireless tablet that's like a little handheld butler.
The tablet, tempting us with the message, "Do what you want, I'm yours" couldn't get into our hands fast enough. After a few minutes we were trying out all the different settings from the do-not-disturb sign to the climate control and even the preset lighting option; all right from the comfort of our dragon-emblazoned bed.
As much as we like shiny new hotels and seeking out the latest places to lay our heads when we’re traveling, there is something about hotels that have seen the years come and go, withstood trends rushing in and passing just as quickly, and over time been woven into the very fabric of a city.
That’s why we sought out Mandarin Oriental Bangkok recently, one of the city’s oldest luxe hotels, having had its place on the banks of the Chao Phraya River since 1876 – that’s more than a hundred and thirty years of history. Specifically, we headed to the Author’s Lounge, so named in honor of the various literary greats that have walked through the doors of the hotel (from Somerset Maugham to John Le Carré and Joseph Conrad to Barbara Cartland).
Here, inside its whitewashed walls, sitting on white wicker furniture, and among potted palms and bamboo, is a window to a different time, one of steam trunk travel, genteel afternoons spent at leisure between cricket matches (or so we imagine), and of course – taking high tea.
After a questionable example earlier this week, we feel the need to cleanse our palate with something a little more refined in the hotel art category. Luckily, we came across the perfect example recently at the equally refined Four Seasons Bangkok.
Enter the airy lobby and walk straight ahead to the grand staircase in front of you, behind which you’ll find a stunning mural commissioned especially for the hotel. Hand-painted on Thai silk, it depicts in extraordinary detail the ascent of the Chakri Dynasty to the throne of Thailand.
With all of the sleek and modern design we've seen in hotels lately, there are few places that have us longing for the romance of vintage travel from the days of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Luckily, M Gallery's Hotel Muse hits the spot.
The memorable hotel brings back the mystery of retro travel and plops it right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, where it's not uncommon to see buildings from yesteryear neighboring towers from tommorow-land. The hotel is a little different in that it's housed in a new building made to look vintage, with a whole lot of turn-of-the-century flair.
Walking into the lobby were were greeted by dark wood panels, sexy lighting and iron work that would make a Paris Metro stop blush. The theme doesn't stop in the elevator. It extends onto the floor and into the room, where we felt like we stepped back to a time when alcohol was illegal and people dressed up to fly the friendly skies.
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As summer nears, hotels are going to start up with the usual warm-weather offerings: rooftop bars, poolside cabanas, and those awkward tanning concierges. But as far as we're concerned, it all boils down to one question: where can we ride a bike for free?
Unless otherwise noted, all of the below hotels offer free bike rentals on a first-come, first-served basis (that means no reserving the night before!), and all bikes come with a helmet and a lock.
We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves on the public bikes at Public Chicago, and we recommend you do the same! Guests can grab a Trek Bicycle and take out for a spin down to Lake Shore and cruise along the beach's bike path—which are just three blocks from the hotel. Oh, and did we mention it's free?
In time for the first shoots of spring in London, £1-favorite Hoxton Hotel is now offering guests four custom UK-made Mango Bikes in the hotel’s colors to tool around town in. Both Sanderson and St. Martin’s Lane counter with equipment from the home of cycling, with Dutch bikes by Public J7.
Santa Barbara's El Encanto Resort has something special for adventuresome guests: electric bikes! The electric component can be turned on or off, so if you don't feel like cheating, you can pump all the way to the beach and back. But when it comes time to head back to the hotel (which sits in the Santa Barbara hills), that motor is going to come in pretty handy.
Sofitel So Bangkok offers three bikes for rent—a number suitable for the cast of Three's Company, but hey, free is free! Head across the road and pedal your heart out around Lumpini Park, the city's answer to Central Park, where you can ride along the Komodo Dragons basking in the sun on the banks of the lake.
For 12 more hotels (and hotel brands) with free bike rentals, read on!
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It makes sense for a French hotel portfolio, such as Accor to recruit a French fashion designer such aslike Christian Lacroix to design not only the rooms, but the uniforms for their ultra hip Sofitel So Bangkok. As expected, these digs and outfits are So over the top while managing to maintain traditional Thai themes.
Lacroix married East and West elements into his unique designs that make each staff member a walking fashion plate. Using traditional Thai silk and silhouette the designer brings a little Paris runway show to the streets of Bangkok with his brightly colored uniforms for both men and women. Each piece is different from the next by using the basic elements and mixing and matching tops, bottoms, and sashes so everyone looks like a top model.
Last week, we gave you a sneak peek into Bangkok's shiny new W Bangkokand now we'll pull back the bejeweled curtain and show you the glam rooms. Being in a world-class city, you can expect a new hotel to have all glitz and shine; the W Bangkok doesn't fail the 'come to the party' test with its rooms fit for a jewel smuggler.
From the moment we stepped foot in the door, we knew we were somewhere special. Not only did we notice that 'new hotel' smell--it welcomed guests just 2 months ago--we may have been blinded by the shimmer and sparkle of the rhinestones, like everywhere. We will admit, we like a hotel that can successfully use lots of bling and, in true W style, this hotel has pushed the envelope.
What could be better than sexy design, familiar, yet thoughtful amenities, all the pizazz you can imagine and that new-hotel smell? Not much and that's why we are absolutely loving everything about recently opened W Bangkok.
Here's a little peek into the glam that is one of the city's newest hotels hotspot. Everything you expect from the edgy brand and more featuring glass block room dividers, rich jewel tones and more sparkles than any hotel room we've stayed in, these are the digs that inspire home renovations that fail to hit the mark.
There is a little part of us that feels like we'd been teleported from Southeast Asia to a jewelry gallery mixed with a prize fighters house. Stay tuned for a full review and pics of all of the little touches and pieces of sparkle from the lobby to the room. In the meantime, just simmer in these sexy snaps.
[Photos: Rayme Gorniak for HotelChatter]