In a city that hits you from all sides at all times, it’s worth splurging on a high-end oasis to start and end your days. Combining luxury, history, art, culture and cuisine, Bangkok’s most luxurious hotels are bastions of tranquillity in a city that never sleeps. If you want the finest five-star spots in the Thai capital, here are the most lavish.
Steep-gabled temple roofs, a garden of lotus ponds, the tinkle of hammered dulcimers echoing down the long corridors… This tranquil timewarp evokes old Siam – it’s named after the medieval capital (and modern-day World Heritage site). Yet it comes with a 21st-century-cool gym, business centre, spa and restaurants, and sits right in the heart of Bangkok’s financial centre, a matter of minutes from the metro and the Chao Phraya river.
Given the modern, serrated skyline, it’s hard to imagine the old Bangkok of quiet tranquil waterways, tall teak houses and perfumed gardens. The Ariyasom offers a glimpse, with a handful of balconied rooms in a gorgeous mid-20th-century mansion. It sits over the Saen Saep canal, resplendent in carved wood and lined with temple antiques. A saffron-robed arhat (enlightened one) offers mindfulness meditation in the jasmine-scented garden. The hotel also has an excellent vegan-friendly restaurant. And while it’s a 10-minute walk from busy Sukhumvit road, the hotel is as peaceful as birdsong.
In a shard of glass amid a forest of shimmering skyscrapers, the Rosewood is quintessentially 21st-century Bangkok. The plushest mega-malls and al fresco rooftop bars lie just beyond the marble-filled lobby and the cavernous apartment-style rooms have Blade Runner-worthy cityscape views. Plushest of all are the 182sqm (1960sqft) two-bedroom sky suites with private outdoor plunge pools high over the city.
Pulling up to the ultra-luxe Peninsula, on the west side of the Chao Phraya River, is like travelling through time. The minute you step inside, you’re on first-name terms with staff as they show you the one-of-a-kind spa, world-class restaurants and pool with its view of passing boats. If you want an even more rarefied pick-up, you’re in luck: the Peninsula is the only hotel in the city with its own helipad and door-to-door helicopter service from the airport.
This is the life: relaxing resort living in the big city. A head-spinning 21 floors above the Sathorn neighbourhood is the outdoor pool area. For more exertion, there’s the health club, with a range of shape-shifting classes including yoga and Muay Thai. And the spa, with its generous rain showers, is an oasis of signature massages, featuring authentic Thai techniques. Indulgent evenings spin out on the hotel rooftop, where drinking haunts Vertigo and Moon Bar deliver spectacular views from 61 floors up. For lower – but no less lofty – dining, take a trip on Apsara, Banyan Tree’s converted vintage rice barge that cruises the Chao Phraya while you down decadent Thai dishes.
Don’t let the out-of-the-way location dissuade you – The Siam is hands down the best boutique hotel in Bangkok. Calling itself an urban sanctuary, the room options – sumptuous suites or pool villas – all come with butler service, espresso machines and portable wifi to help you get around the city. Unique amenities include a movie theatre and a traditional tattoo studio where Thai masters employ the ancient khem (needle) technique. Due to its distance from the centre of the city, the hotel has its own boat to ferry you along the river to all the major Bangkok sites.
If you want to mingle, you’ve come to the right place: the restaurant and bar outlets of the Anantara Siam are prime territory for the city’s well-heeled. It’s a lavish scene, as you’ll realise, entering the lobby to find priceless artefacts perched atop display cases, creating the impression of both a library and an ornate palace. Choose from Thai, Italian and Japanese for dinner, before heading to al fresco Aqua for a little more people-watching. The hotel itself is in the heart of the city, near the smartest malls and across the road from the Royal Bangkok Sports Club, home to the King’s inner-city golf course, polo grounds and racetrack.
This riverside residence is two hotels in one: a quiet utopia on one side, and more sociable surroundings on the other. Whichever one you choose to stay in, you’ll have easy access to a boat along the Chao Phraya and an entryway to the BTS Skytrain, a matter of metres away. Luxe rooms with sunken tubs have floor-to-ceiling views of the water below. There are two pools, similarly one quiet and one sociable, while the fitness centre is a catch-all with complimentary classes, tennis courts and every weight machine you could ask for. Of the nine dining outlets, our favourite is Salathip, a Thai restaurant housed in a traditional teak wood building, where traditional dance is performed nightly.
One of the most stunning additions to the Bangkok skyline is the metallic spire of the Park Hyatt, reaching into the clouds like a beacon. This architectural marvel is a mocha-coloured limestone shrine to luxury: decked out with hanging art pieces, it also embraces a saltwater infinity pool, a whisky room with 160 labels and a Pañpuri Organic Spa, with steam and sauna facilities to quell sightseeing-induced aches and pains. Attached to the Central Embassy mall, the hotel is a great bet if your bag is high-end boutiques, restaurants and nightlife, all yours for the taking nearby.
Staying true to its worldwide reputation for luxury, the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok pampers its guests from the moment of arrival; a personal concierge takes care of everything you might need. In addition to the 16th-floor pool and soothing spa, there are six dining and drinking outlets, including the Bull & Bear with a menu featuring 55-day dry-aged steaks. Try also mouth-watering French mussels in The Brasserie and fizz in the rooftop Champagne Bar, admiring endless views of the city skyline.
From five-star stays with Michelin-star dining to chic retreats for the budget-conscious crowd, read on for our pick of the best hotels for all budgets in Bangkok, or take a look at our selection of the best boutique hotels. If you fancy a beach add-on to your city break, you will be spoilt for choice. Or if you’re touring the country, make sure to check out our rundown of the top hotels in Thailand.
Alex Robinson contributed additional reporting to this article.
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