A secluded city hotel, a business-district boutique, a contemporized take on French Colonial styleâ€”Bangkokâ€™s newly opened U Sathorn certainly likes to play with contradictions. And while opposites may not initially attract, the hotel is a lesson in how to match-make them for a very attractive result.
The Look: Arriving at the U Sathorn feels more like entering an estate than a hotel. On a small back road, a gate leads to a considerable roundabout driveway which leads to the impressive open-air lobby. And behind, plantation-esque three-story buildings inspiredÂ by the designs of starchitect Geoffrey Bawa are set around a courtyard with a sunken freshwaterÂ poolâ€”who knew this kind of space existed in Bangkok? With just 86 rooms, the U is a prime perpetuator of the growing trend of boutique hotels in financial districts: a fashionable foil to big-chain neighbors with the spaciousness of somewhere outside the city.
The Rooms: Thereâ€™s a fine line between being well-done and too done-up, especially in boutique hotels, but the rooms here are graciously the formerâ€”high ceilings, white linens, clean light, roomy rain showersâ€”and thanks to the hotelâ€™s sprawling layout, they flood with natural light during the day. Mirroring the geometric mashup of picture frames hanging behind the lobbyâ€™s reception desk, a cool behind-the-bed accent wall of empty frames is a welcome alternative to nameless art (and perhaps an irreverent commentary on it). As for details, flat screens are loaded with everything from city-guides to room-service menus, and a welcoming fruit plate comes as three green apples to color-coordinate with the purple and green accents throughout.
The Surrounds: Sathorn is the land of embassies and global companies, making the hotel ideal for business travelers, but itâ€™s also walking distance from Lumpini Park and the Lumpini MRT stationâ€”30 minutes, and youâ€™re at the river. Local restaurants dot the surrounding streets, and Silom and all its glittery hotspots is just a 10-minute cab ride away.
The Appeal: Perks here come aplenty, such as breakfast anytime and anywhere, 24-hour use of rooms with check-out times that match the time of check-in, a sparkling clean fitness center, and complimentary transfers to the MRT. However, thanks to being both sprawling and small, the hotelâ€™s biggest draw is its peacefulness, and itâ€™s easy to be tempted into staying on-site as much as possible. For that, there are spa treatments done both inside and by the pool and a lobby bar called The Library thatâ€™s stocked with books, magazines, and cocktails good enough to permit asking others to come to you.
For Those in the Knowâ€¦Reserve a dinner at the restaurant, Jâ€™AIME by Jean-Michel Lorain, the cityâ€™s newest Nahm-league hot table. Lorainâ€”who has earned three Michelin stars for himself since taking ownership of Franceâ€™s famed La CĂ´te Saint Jacques, founded by his fatherâ€”created the menu here as an ode to haut French cuisine, sculpted to fit with Bangkokâ€™s taste for the gastronomically cutting-edge. Slightly deconstructed escargots, terrines, and classic French fish dishes are imaginative without being overly challenging and plated with as much styleÂ as the clientele that dresses for the occasion of dining here.
105 Soi Sathon 1,Â Thung Maha Mek, Sathon; 66-2/119-4888; U Sathorn Bangkok.