The beauty of Bangkok is that, no matter how many years one spends here, there will always be something new to discover. A surprise around the corner. A treasure lying close beneath the surface.
One such discovery is U Sathorn Bangkok. Located next to Crescent International School, the property is flanked by bustling expat streets Soi Ngam Du Phli, Sri Bumphen, and, a little further away, Suan Phlu. Where it sits remains peacefully isolated from the corridors of racing motorbikes, bars and restaurants, and otherwise loud human activity. Just walking into the grounds, past pearl-white buildings and onto a veranda that reveals bright green grass and a stunning swimming pool, feels like travelling to a countryside resort. And, in another sense, it feels like going back in time.
Three low wings contain 86 rooms (Superior, Superior Garden, Deluxe Garden, and Suites). The buildings recall the spirit of French colonial architecture in a vernacular style inspired by the great Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. From the hipped roofs and colonnades to ceiling fans softly spinning above couches on balconies, the design captures Old World charm, breathing life into the general concept of a hotel. The amenities and embellishments, however, are decidedly modern.
Each room comes with a smart TV, from which guests can scan food menus, look up nearby attractions, or learn more about the property itself. The showers are all rainfall. Not only is room service 24 hours, but it’s also managed by “Ur Host,” a sort of quasi-butler service for guests. As accommodating as those amenities may be, perhaps the most fan-friendly are concepts like “24 hour rooms”—guests receive 24 hours in the hotel from the moment they check in; for example, arrive at 2pm on Friday, check out at 2pm on Saturday—and breakfast whenever, wherever, allowing slow morning risers to hang out in their pyjamas instead of getting dressed up for the breakfast buffet.
While solitude and style help set U Sathorn apart among travellers, fine dining at flagship restaurant J’AIME offers Bangkok residents a reason to visit with greater frequency. Designed by Jean-Michel Lorain—whose La Côte Saint-Jacques has earned two to three Michelin stars year after year—and led by the meticulous Amerigo Sesti, J’AIME gives the city’s dining a scene an element it has lacked. The décor lends J’AIME, as well as The Library Bar beneath it, a sort of “Alice in Wonderland”vibe. Colours transition from black to purple to ivory. A transparent piano hangs from the ceiling in the centre of the restaurant, symbolic of the way the place turns hard-set culinary rules upside down.
For larger tables, dishes come in portions to share, uniting French flavours with Asian traditions. Many recipes have roots in family annals. Yet all have received the innovative touch of the two chefs: scallops rather than rabbit on a bed of pumpkin purée and mushrooms, an oyster served with citrus jelly, a honey-kissed mille-feuille from the recipe book of Lorain’s father. For visitors and locals alike, the restaurant is a destination in and of itself.
On Sunday, there’s a beautiful Sunday brunch at J’AIME, again based around a shared, Asian-style concept. Main courses are made to order, rather than cooked by the bundle and left in the chafing dish, but diners can order the same thing over and over again, if they so prefer. The food varies from the lunch and dinner menus, which come in several courses designed to cater to each guest’s tastes. Instead, brunch starts with a shared charcuterie plate and smaller starters, and there’s a focus on seafood in the mains. Whatever the choice, it’s doubtless best rounded out with free-flow Chandon.
The young U Sathorn, as all hotels, has a lot of appeal for travellers—comfort, style, convenience in the form of free bicycles and shuttle buses—but it has just as much to offer the city-dweller in search of a staycation, or a gastronomic getaway, or, perhaps, merely the scent of freshly cut grass.
U SATHORN BANGKOK
105 Soi Sathon 1 | 0 2119 4888 | usathornbangkok.com