With the openings of new restaurants, bars, and clubs, this nightlife stronghold remains steadfast
Over the last two decades Soi 11 has seen dozens, if not hundreds, of bars come and go. With the removal of the street-side alcohol vans, food vendors, and, most recently, the closure of the unnamed sub-soi that housed Cheap Charlie’s, The Alchemist, and Stash bar among others, many predicted the end for this nightlife hotspot and expected that it would become just another soulless Sukhumvit soi filled to the brim of hotels, condominiums, and tourist-attracting restaurants.
The removal of the street vendors in October of 2016, in particular, caused an uproar among local-residents and business owners—some over the moon that pavements would be clear, while others felt that it stripped the soi of character and personality. Now, almost a year later, many have crept back and continue to operate on a smaller scale but the pavements remain significantly more pedestrian-friendly.
Several nightlife establishments have also opened within the past six months, bringing with them a touch of class and sophistication to the neighbourhood, while others remain as popular as ever. Newcomer to the block, Alex Brasserie opened in April of this year and offers French and Mediterranean cuisine served up by chef Arnaud Drouvillé, who previously served as Executive chef in Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s Bangkok kitchen. The décor is modern but classic, and the eye-catching circular bar allows guests to enjoy creative cocktails and take in panoramic views of the surrounding hustle and bustle.
Also serving up French fare is Soho Hospitality’s newest venture, Brasserie Cordonnier. Staying true to Soho’s DNA, this authentic Parisian restaurant combines two of the most recognized aspects of French culture: food and fashion. At the helm of the kitchen is Chef Clement Hernandez, who rolls out French classics as well as a few of his own unique creations. The drinks menu hosts a catalogue of specially sourced fine wines and spirits, alongside an array of unique French inspired cocktails concocted by Davide Sambo, Soho’s Group Mixologist. Don’t be too surprised if a lightbulb arrives at your table—that will be the Lumière cocktail. The bar on third and fourth floor, Sole Rouge, was only unveiled to the public in August of this year, and it was definitely worth the wait. In an ode to Christian Louboutin the walls are adorned in rows upon rows of women’s shoes while the playful cocktails are inspired by designer shoe houses. In the bathrooms you’ll even hear a recording of Christian Louboutin describe his love for designing shoes.
Among Soho’s other famed bars and restaurants in Soi 11 are Above Eleven, Charcoal Tandoor Grill & Mixology, and Havana Social, each offering unique concepts that draw in crowds almost every night of the week. Above Eleven rooftop bar and restaurant on the 33rd floor of Fraser Suites Sukhumvit has made it on to several lists naming Bangkok’s best skybars, and it’s no wonder why with its urban park themed décor, potent signature cocktails, and Peruvian Japanese cuisine coupled with its extensive views of downtown Bangkok (but the best view by far though is in the bathrooms). Downstairs, on the 5th floor, Charcoal presents the perfect balance between traditional Indian tandoori cooking and innovative mixology in a modern, industrial-chic setting. Just across the road from Fraser Suites in a small sub-soi, the telefono sign of Havana Social is still shining bright. While it’s no longer necessary to dial the secret code to open the door (the venue proved to be too popular for that), the Latin-inspired drinks are still flowing and music is still playing late into the night. And like any Latin-themed venue should be, the atmosphere is always alive and festive with the crowds showing off their salsa moves on the dance floor.
Atop of the Le Fenix Hotel, Nest offers a more casual rooftop bar experience. Located on the eighth floor, the views are less impressive than other rooftop bars in Bangkok, but with oversized daybeds, an impressive cocktail list, and the sound of melodic music in the background you’ll be too relaxed to notice. Plus, with lower heights comes lower prices.
The den-like Victorian inspired Apoteka prides itself in being a Blues orientated music venue and has a sterling line up of bands and singers performing every night of the week. As for the menu, unique apothecary-themed cocktails, an assortment of craft beers, and hearty dishes that comfort the soul are all on offer.
Although Marshmallow Kitchen & Bar doesn’t receive much attention on social media, this underrated chic-boutique style bar has been going strong since 2011. Now that our beloved Cheap Charlies is no more, Marshmallow fills the void in terms of cheap drinks with a daily happy hour special of B100 gin, rum, and vodka drinks, plus local beers, from 5pm to 8pm. Thai dishes and nibbles make ideal accompaniments to after work drinks or an early dinner.
Trendy Oskar Bistro is known for both its fun-factor and fare. Its Mediterranean-inspired menu is the handiwork of Michelin-starred restaurant collaborator Julien Lavigne. Cocktails and wine are in no short supply, nor is entertainment with some of Bangkok’s best DJs spinning tunes every night of the week. Themed parties are held all-year round, adding to Oskar’s reputation as a go-to venue on the Soi 11 strip.
Living up to its name, Brew Beers & Ciders offers an impressive list of 500 imported beers and ciders. The venue is not large, but that doesn’t matter when you have an array of ice cold beers at your fingertips. Daniel Thaiger burgers are also on offer with a permanent kiosk set up right next door. By contrast, Zak’s advertises itself as a wine bar, and hosts the occasional salsa dance night up on its second floor.
Sports fanatics will be more than satisfied with Australian Pub & BBQ and Mulli’s Sports Bar streaming sports every day of the week. Both venues offer good ol’ hearty food and plenty of beers on tap, ciders, wines, and spirits. Come late evening when the live matches are done and dusted, Australian Pub’s famous band takes over the stage and keeps the crowds dancing all night long.
If it’s an entire night of dancing you’re after, Soi 11 is home to four nightclubs, each with its own unique identity. In July of this year, Insanity—previously located on Sukhumvit Soi 12—held the grand opening party of its new venue. Over 1,200 guests, including the who’s who of Bangkok’s party-scene, were in attendance to see the opening of this new “super club”. The hanger style interior boasts 14-metre-high ceilings, a retractable halo lighting system, and a French made L-Acoustic sound system. The club also promises international and local DJs seven days a week.
Also in July, Levels celebrated its 5th anniversary with a huge free party. Housed on the 6th floor of the Aloft Hotel, this popular dance spot has attracted many international celebrities over the years including party boy Tobey Maguire and music sensation T-Pain. On a smaller scale, 8 On Eleven is both a gastro bar and club, with the dance area housed on the second floor. This modern industrial-finished venue offers a wide selection of cocktails and classic European dishes—with a modern twist to match its modern décor. But if you’re looking to get down and dirty, dedicated hip hop nightclub Sugar is the place to go with energetic hip hop DJs and dancers performing every night.
Other Noteworthy Nightclubs
CE LA VIE: One of Bangkok’s top nightlife venues, this vast and glittering club is located on the 39th floor of Sathorn Square. It boasts impressive skyscraper ceilings, and a long window that affords an exceptional view. The music is orientated towards the commercial side, but international guest DJs—from various genres—often make appearances on the roster to mix it up.
BEAM: Located on the upper tier of Thong Lor’s Courtyard 72, this club has a minimalistic warehouse look to it but boasts a state of the art sound system and visual equipment. Downstairs, lounge style Dalmatian Room plays laid back electro beats, while the main room upstairs offers deep house and techno, with international acts performing regularly. Taking ques from world-renowned nightclub Fabric in London, the subwoofers are placed under the dancefloor so partygoers can feel literally the bass in every beat.
BLAQ LYTE: This Thong Lor hotspot, on the 2nd floor of Badmotel, is a neon-lit, 90’s style hip hop venue that throws parties for a good cause. Each month, owner Nick Supreda donates a portion of the profits to his orphan charity 32 Foundation.
SING SING THEATER: Tucked away on Sukhumvit Soi 45, this theatrical venue is decorated in Hollywood-esque Chinoiserie straight out of the 1930s. The Far East-inspired interior design is the handiwork of prolific Bangkok-based designer Ashley Sutton, and features a Chinese lantern-adorned ceiling, dark-wooded bars and furniture, and wrought iron pattern work. The interior space stretches across four floors, and six split levels—with the dancefloor in the centre. As for the music, expect a well-curated line up of house DJs.
MIXX DISCOTECHQUE: Classier than most of Bangkok’s after hour dance clubs, this nightlife mainstay, located below the InterContinental Hotel, is a two-room affair—one playing hip hop and R&B, while the other does house and techno—and remains one of the city’s few remaining late-night party destinations.
By Kelly Harvey