Above: The hotel lobby.
A raft of imaginative amenities gives the Thai capital’s newest five-star hotel a stylish edge.
By Leisa Tyler
Were it not for the sign out front, you might think that you’ve arrived at the wrong address. This sleek glass-clad building is one of Asia’s first new-look Le Méridien properties, its facade more reminiscent of an art gallery than a hotel. The entrance is punctuated with green marble panels and plastered with an oversize black-and-white image, “Man with a Poodle,” by American photographer Ralf Gibson—one of a team of international designers, artists, chefs, and creative consultants enlisted to breathe new life into the Le Méridien brand.
At first glance, the location seems unorthodox for an upscale hotel; it flanks busy Surawong Road, just a stone’s throw from the red-light district of Patpong. But the area has a real buzz, and this is reflected in Le Méridien’s style and service, which soars above anything else in the neighborhood.
Rooms To Book
Party people will love the cheeky Circular Suites, replete with round Austin Powers–style beds, mood lighting, and playful throw pillows. For everyone else, details such as paisley prints, a minibar stocked with gourmet nibbles (think coffee-infused chocolates), Kasch bathtubs, and wall poetry by Thai bard Sunthorn Phu give regular rooms a personal, homey feel.
Glittery lounge-bar Bamboo Chic dishes up fusiony Japanese and Chinese creations, while the hotel’s extensive breakfast buffet features a special menu by celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Highlights of the latter include espresso-steamed eggs and spiced-oatmeal soufflé.
The staff, clad in smart black suits, have been trained to exude coolness, but they are as pleasant and efficient a bunch as any I’ve met. And helpful: even those not assigned to the concierge desk dispense an encyclopedic knowledge of Bangkok’s sights and sounds.
The sumptuous spa has chic, circular treatment rooms lined with tiny white pebbles. Unlike in most facilities of its kind, laughter and talking are encouraged here, and guests are greeted by upbeat music. Elsewhere, complimentary wireless Internet access in the lobby and other public spaces is a nice touch for Bangkok, where big hotels typically charge for such a service.
Blended with Asian herbs and fruits and crafted to your liking, the creative cocktails at Bamboo Chic are worth a visit in their own right. Try the Tom Yam—a zingy concoction made from vodka, Cointreau, lemon juice, and fiery tom yam soup spices.
40/5 Surawong Rd., Bangrak, Bangkok, Thailand; 66-2/232-8888; lemeridien.com; doubles from US$138.
Originally appeared in the April 2009 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Le Méridien Bangkok”)