With so many cool accommodations gracing Bangkok these days, you don’t even have to leave town to have a unique getaway or hideaway for a weekend retreat. If you’re looking for an in-town “staycation”, check out some of these novel properties.
BANGKOK TREEHOUSE: Bicyclists, nature lovers, and anyone craving a real urban escape will absolutely love it here. Take a quick boat trip across the Chao Phraya and you are in Bang Krachao, also known as the “green lungs of Bangkok”, and the city’s largest green space, where development has been kept next to nil. You can either boat in to the hotel pier, or else come to the other public ferry piers, rent a bike (or bring your own), and ride the rest of the way in. Bangkok Treehouse is a one-of-a-kind resort. Built from bamboo and recycled metal, this eco-friendly boutique hotel has plenty of bicycle parking, and a restaurant by the river that serves organic produce and sustainable seafood. And then there are the completely novel rooms! Try the View With a Room which features a bed with mosquito netting out on an open bamboo deck, or the “nest” rooms, which give access to several rooftops, great for taking in the jungle views. In addition, vegans are catered to, and smoking isn’t allowed on the premises. Needless to say, this is as green an escape as you will find in town, and it feels more like something that should be on Koh Lanta as opposed to just a short trip from the BTS Bang Na station.
Address: 60 Moo 1, Petch Cha Hueng Rd,
Phra Pradaeng, Samut Prakarn
Tel: 082 995 1150
PRAYA PALAZZO: Even the bicycle friendly Bangkok Treehouse can be accessed via a vehicle, albeit going a long, roundabout way, but at Praya Palazzo the only way in is via the hotel’s private shuttle boat. Set on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya, this beautiful historic property was built in 1923 in Venetian Palladian-style classical Italian architecture. A Thai-Chinese nobleman who served King Rama VI owned the lovely mansion, which later became a school and then fell into disrepair as Bangkok moved from canals to roadways for travel. The mansion was painstakingly restored to its original aesthetic and today is the perfect couple’s getaway. Rooms feature wooden floors, Italian antiques, and children under the age of twelve aren’t allowed (a problem for some but an absolute blessing for others). A garden swimming pool, dining room, and Wi-Fi access completes the package, and while you feel a zillion miles away from cars and the city, every guest gets a cell phone with which to call the boatmen from either side of the river for 24-hour service—should you feel any shopping withdrawal or the need for getting back to the bright lights of the big city.
Address: 757/1, Somdej Prapinklao Soi 2
Tel: 02 883 2998
PHRANAKORN NORNLEN: Hidden away on a back street in Dusit, this funky boutique stay is a great spot from which to explore old Bangkok. The owner of the 31-room hotel is an artist, and has individually designed and painted the hallways and rooms with unique murals and distinctive themes. One room looks straight out of San Francisco’s 1970’s Haight Ashbury, with psychedelic orange swirls, while the family room features an array of elephants and cool pastel blues. The downstairs common areas are particularly lovely, evoking a Thailand of yesteryear, with a recreated community that has façades of old photo and coffee shops, plus other vintage stores. You won’t ever get bored here, as the hotel offers free Thai cooking classes, as well as instruction in soap carving and sewing. There’s also an organic garden on the roof, plus superb views of the giant Buddha statue at the nearby Wat Intharawihan.
Address: 46 Thewet Soi 1
Tel. 02 628 8188
SHANGHAI MANSION: For nostalgia buffs, you don’t need to leave the city to go back a century in time. Located right in the heart of Chinatown, Shanghai Mansion looks like something right out of 1920s Shanghai. The mansion was built in 1892, and became Bangkok’s first Chinese opera house in 1908 (later on becoming a stock exchange and then department store). These days it serves as one of Chinatown’s most distinctive properties, and its interior—full of brocades, Chinese silks, and dark furniture—really belongs in the Shanghai of the Roaring Twenties. The design throughout is Chinese Art Deco, and rooms are filled with warm and vibrant colours, old photographs, and giant claw tubs. The hotel’s Red Rose restaurant has checkered floors, Cantonese meals, and Chinese whiskeys and plum wine, plus there’s also a vintage jazz bar upstairs, accessed via an iron spiral staircase, with views out to bustling Yaowarat Road. Here you can travel from old-school Chinatown to present day Chinatown, and still be within minutes of the Hua Lamphong MRT station should you need to rush back to the Central Business District, or beeline to the clubs in Thong Lor if you happen to get modern urban withdrawal symptoms.
Address: 479-481 Yaowarat Rd
Tel. 02 221 2121
CHAKRABONGSE VILLAS: Saying you might feel “princely” at this accommodation is not just adding words of praise to one of Bangkok’s more novel residences. The Chakrabongse actually was once the residence of a Thai prince, whose daughter has turned it into a gorgeous and intimate lodging. Built in 1908 by His Royal Highness Prince Chakrabongse, the home was used by the prince to attend ceremonies at the nearby Grand Palace, as well as for relaxing with picnics and excursions along the Chao Phraya River. In 1932, HRH Prince Chula Chakrabongse made it his permanent residence. The property is tucked behind a large sealed gate, and bounded by trees and foliage on both sides (with the river in front) and there are only seven rooms within these lush hidden grounds—one of which is a traditional Ayutthaya teak home built on stilts, and another of which is Thai teak house overlooking the river. Meanwhile, larger groups can check out the Chinese family suite, which has two rooms and is decked out with antique Chinese furniture. There’s also a swimming pool, as well as loaner bicycles should you get restless, and the restaurant is noted for outstanding royal Thai cuisine.
Address: 396 Maharat Rd, Rattanakosin Island
Tel. 02 222 1290
MUSTANG NERO: Housed in what used to be an old commercial building, this unique Air BnB is one of the hottest properties in town, and it’s easy to see why. Owner ‘Joy’ Chalardcharoen has tastefully decorated this minimalist Phra Khanong hideaway with stuffed animals, tropical plants, and desert cacti, resulting in ia kind of industrialist meets taxidermy in the jungle (yes, you better love stuffed animals before checking in here). Both creative and eccentric, the property also includes plenty of sprawl out space for work or rest. A filling homemade breakfast is included with your stay, and you can opt between Lion, Flamingo, and Zebra as some of the room choices (there are only eight in total, so make sure to book well in advance). Despite feeling like you are in a wild menagerie, the Phra Khanong BTS station is only a 5-minute walk down the road, as are the food stalls and bars of the happening W District should you feel the need to flee the hotel’s wildlife.
Address: 1112/91-93 Soi Daimaru Department Store
Tel. 084 138 3172
HOTEL HIGHLIGHT: IBIS STYLES BANGKOK KHAOSAN VIENGTAI
For many of Bangkok’s non-Thai residents, one of the earliest memoriesof this city is checking into a super cheap guesthouse on Khao San Road and partying till all hours at one of the many nearby buck-a-beer watering holes. Well, times may have changed, and the beer’s no longer a buck, but the spirit of KSR is still alive and well. So why not take a weekend and go back in time, pretending to be a wide-eyed tourist again, freshly plunked down in this manic metropolis. However, this time skip the ratty guesthouse and check into the newly opened Ibis Styles Bangkok Khaosan Viengtai.
This stylish, yet still very affordable 3-star hotel, located on Rambutri Road—Khao San’s cooler cousin—puts you front and centre to the carnival-like scene of street food, souvenir shops, and entertainment. Inside there are 215 unique rooms, ranging from compact standard rooms to family-size rooms with king and bunk beds. Inside each guests will find amenities such as mini fridge, safe, 43” LED TV, free Wi-Fi, and tea and coffee making facilities.
The rooms themselves are decorated with a funky flair, so expect lots of space-age design and bright colours, as well as anything from polka-dot lampshades and modular furniture, to pillows featuring pop-art prints of super soaker squirt guns (a nod to the annual Songkran water festival that turns Khao San and Rambutri Roads into a water gun battleground). The fun and funky décor is echoed in other parts of the hotel, especially notable in the outdoor swimming pool (open till 10pm) where the tiling is a series of multi-coloured stripes, and a playful modern art statue shares the shallows with swimmers.
Of course, this property was not always so “modern”. When the original Viengtai Hotel opened its doors in 1953, there were a lot fewer hotels in town and this one primarily catered to Thai visitors from upcountry (the name means “Southern city” in the Northern Thai dialect, and was referring to Bangkok as “the South”). It initially only had 20 rooms but the owners gradually acquired the adjacent plots of land and created a 100-room hotel. It was considered a pioneer in Bangkok’s hospitality scene, and in the early ‘60s they added a swimming pool and boosted the room count to 215.
The hotel stayed in the family until March of this year when it was rebranded as an Ibis Style Hotel, and part of the makeover included revamping the F&B units. The main restaurant has been relaunched as Streats Café, with a large glassed-in terrace directly accessible from the main street and a kitchen that serves up all-day breakfast plus authentic Thai cuisine and more. The restaurant also has baked goods straight from the hotel’s French-style Streats Bakery.
Finally, Streats Bar, which spills out right out into the action on Rambutri Road, features a great live band Tuesday to Sunday. Try one of their creative cocktails, such as the colourful Bourbon to Bangkok, a delicious mix of Jim Beam, passionfruit, watermelon, and red grenadine. by Bruce Scott
Ibis Styles Bangkok Khaosan Viengtai
42 Rambuttri Rd, Banglampu
Tel: 02 280 5434
HOTEL HIGHLIGHT: SOMERSET EKAMAI BANGKOK
If you want a slick staycation spot that’s right in the heart of Bangkok’s trendiest shopping and dining quadrant—with Ekkamai Road at your doorstep, and Thong Lor and Phra Khanong a stone’s throw away in either direction—the now fully-opened Somerset Ekamai Bangkok is a prime contender.
The property is under the wing of Ascott Ltd, a Singapore-based company that is one of the leading international serviced residence owner-operators. This is their first mixed-use development in Bangkok, combining serviced and corporate residences, urban community rooms with co-living space, and a conference centre.
There are 130 modern and stylish apartments to choose from, ranging from 45 sq.m studios to spacious 89 sq.m two-bedroom units. The 70 sq.m One-Bedroom Premier is a nice all-round option—especially for couples—and it includes a sizeable balcony, as well as plenty of interior space and Wi-Fi connectivity. Meanwhile, the fully-equipped kitchen area comes with a two-element countertop stove, microwave oven, full-height refrigerator, electric kettle, toaster, and a range of glassware, crockery, cutlery, and utensils. It also boasts a washing machine and dryer, which is a huge luxury for those used to old-school Bangkok apartments.
The design scheme is very urban-contemporary and business-like, combining the soothing tones of blonde wood, beige, and off-whites, together with a few dark wood furniture accents. In the bathroom you’ll find lots of shiny marble, as well as a separate shower stall and a large, deep soaking tub. There’s also a flatscreen TV in both the living area and the bedroom, and the bed itself is very comfortable indeed.
The property’s on-site facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, gymnasium, indoor and outdoor children’s play areas, and residents’ lounge—all on the ground floor level. Add to that the fact that it’s located on a quiet side soi off the Ekkamai main road and you have the makings of a peaceful downtown getaway spot.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the property’s own The Cured Chamber restaurant (where the daily breakfast buffet for guests is served) is a great all-day dining spot. The bright, high ceilinged interior includes a glassed-in, humidity controlled display room full of hanging ham hocks and cured meats, while stacks of firewood and heavy wooden timbers complete the country farmhouse feel. Visitors should definitely try the signature Charcuterie selection platter (B520 for 2/B980 for 4), which includes tasty portions of prosciutto di San Daniele ham, Jamon Iberico, chorizo, coppa, speck ham, and Milano salami. Other menu highlights include: Mesclun salad with cured salmon (B320); the exquisitely tender Char-grilled pork rib (B520); and the yummy Trio chocolate tart (B320).
NOTE: To celebrate the launch, special introductory room rates are now available, starting from B1,300++ per night for Urban Community Rooms and THB 2,800++ per night for Serviced Residence units. Book now for stays up until October 31st, 2017. For reservations, call 02 204 4400, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. by Bruce Scott