For time-strapped Hongkongers, Bangkok is consistently at the top of the charts as a destination for a quick and easy vacation. Friendly service, ample space, a penchant for design and attractive prices: what’s not to love?
Repeat visitors are practically guaranteed to be passing over the likes of Wat Arun and Khaosan Road, Bangkok’s top tourist attractions, but for those seeking rest and relaxation, we’d recommend settling in the area of Phloen Chit and Chit Lom. A stone’s throw away from the greenery of Lumpini Park, some of Bangkok’s top tables and bars are sandwiched between these two BTS stations, with ultra-luxe shopping complex Central Embassy right in the middle of them. If you’re looking for a luxurious and restful getaway, there’s nowhere better to seek out top accommodation.
I booked in for two nights at the area’s newest hotel, Rosewood Bangkok, opened earlier this March — just two weeks after Hong Kong’s own flagship debuted.
Located near the Phloen Chit skytrain, the Rosewood Bangkok is elegantly appointed with an air of modern minimalism. It almost feels like you’ve stepped into a force field of peacefulness just off the Sukhumvit thoroughfare. Shaped like two parallel shards, the Kohn Pedersen Fox-designed building pays homage to the wai, the traditional Thai hand greeting of two palms pressed together.
Inside, it feels like the foyer to a billionaire’s home — an effect intentionally carried throughout each of the Rosewood properties, made to make guests feel as if they’re stepping into their own million-dollar manor. Yet compared to the empty maze that the Rosewood Hong Kong’s entrance sometimes feels like, the lobby to the Bangkok hotel makes you feel immediately at home as you step inside. The three layers of elevator access to reach the rooms, the spa, restaurants, and ground level proved to be slightly confusing at times, but understandably necessary for security.
With seven room categories from Deluxe to two-bedroom suites (including rooms with a personal pool) to choose from, even the most basic room is sized at a comfortable 452 sq. ft. I stayed in an Executive room, which boasts a more residential layout, neatly divided into wardrobe, bedroom, and massive bathroom. The east-facing view outside the room was unfortunately rather grey and uninteresting (over a gritty backstreet and the BTS line). The room was decked out in calming neutrals, rich chocolate browns and just an accent of cornflower blue for some visual interest. Size-wise, it was just right for a two-night stay. Every square foot of the room felt practical yet with plenty of space to spread out. (Although with an extended stay, I would have wanted a longer clothes rail.)
Like one might expect, guests of the Rosewood are truly pampered to a luxurious international standard, and your preferences are taken into account even at the pre-check in stage, as each booking confirmation comes with a questionnaire. The king bed was deliciously plush, with the added benefit of six down pillows. The minibar was stocked with an assortment of bottled classic cocktails (I had noted my penchant for negronis), tea and Nespresso, snacks, and complimentary bottles of Evian. The electric bedside sockets came with USB ports — a must.
Tech-wise, the 49’ LCD TV had everything we needed, whether it was international channels or menus for the spa. There was a bluetooth speaker and radio by the bedside. There’s even an integrated sound system across the bed and bath, but it has its downsides. When one partner is watching cop car chases on TV, for instance, the other is forced to listen in via the speaker in the bathroom, with no way to escape. Laughably so, even using the Dyson hairdryer — designed to be quiet, of course — couldn’t keep out the commotion.
Nevertheless, with twice daily housekeeping, our Frette linens, robes and slippers, bathroom and minibar were constantly kept fresh. We returned to the room always finding it spruced. Some hotels might have their housekeeping rearrange all your toiletries in an effort to tidy the bathroom counter, but I appreciated how the Rosewood team seemed not to have completely rifled through your belongings — simply folding loose items of clothing and keeping your things as close to the way you like it.
The bathroom amenities were Rosewood’s in-house brand, and there was a little bowl of bath salts by the roomy bathtub — all replenished daily. Obviously, I took the liberty of taking daily soaks — it’d be practically rude not to.
Shielding from the view outside, my entire stay barely felt like Thailand, but it definitely felt like you were in a Rosewood. The luxury frills, sense of privacy, generous spatial design, and friendly, personable service easily make you too lazy to venture out of the property and into the cacophony and heat of Bangkok’s streets. Central Embassy, just a 5-minute walk away, felt like the most that we could muster despite Phloen Chit BTS being right there.
Breakfasts were at Lakorn, a European all-day brasserie where you can grab some excellent pain au chocolat, baguettes, fruit bowls at the bread table, while ordering your favourite breakfast dishes a la carte. For something even more indulgent beyond eggs benny and perfectly shaped omelettes, I highly recommend pecan French toast, served with fresh bananas, blueberries and maple syrup.
If you’re not zooming off to catch a Michelin-starred meal at Suhring or Gaa, Nahm or Bo Lan, or wherever a typically packed holiday eating schedule takes you, you’ll want to head to Nan Bei; Rosewood Bangkok’s answer to Hong Kong’s Legacy House, the Chinese restaurant dishes up elegant Southern (nan) and Northern (bei) favourites, particularly touting a signature Peking duck.
Nan Bei is thoughtfully designed after the folktale of the Weaver Girl and Cowherd, a celestial couple whose forbidden love meant they were only allowed to meet once a year in the sky over a bridge of magpies. The dazzling entrance has guests walking past an installation of 600 illuminated birds in flight, strung up over Rosewood’s 10-storey long waterfall, gushing into the pool a few floors below. Throughout the restaurant, golden yellow and ultramarine hues make it seem as if you too are dining above the horizon, while Asian-style minimalist booths and banquettes keep the vibe modern and chic.
It might seem odd to get Chinese food in Thailand when you’ve flown all the way there, but no kidding, we tasted some of the very best xiao long bao we’ve ever tried: moreish, comforting and flecked with strands of unctuous blue crab meat and black truffle, making the hot broth within even more delicious and sweet.
Braised on the bone until meltingly tender, the Wagyu beef short rib was large enough for four to share, but we licked our plates clean with just two of us dining. The mapo tofu also gets an honourable mention, with perfect cubes of silken tofu packed with mouth-watering heat, topped with large chunks of poached lobster.
Sunset calls for drinks at Lennon’s: a stunning loft-level speakeasy on the top floor of the Rosewood. It opens up as a vinyl record store, but swing open the hidden doors and sidle up to the bar for their spins on classic cocktails. While boasting a 6,000-strong vinyl collection and regular DJ nights, the bar also features rare vintage spirits from as early as the 40s. You can even buy spirits that have been around since the Prohibition-era, or indulge in a few puffs of Cuban cigars in the upstairs private lounge. The Old Fashioned was solid; perfect after a large stodgy dinner. I preferred it over the aquavit-based Martini, which was slightly astringent and served with a pearl onion. Come late at night, and the bar gets dark, moody and introverted. It’s fantastic for a quiet nightcap while mulling over the skyline, but from this vantage point, other taller rooftop bars nearby might have the greater edge.
Rosewood Bangkok boasts a gorgeous Sense Spa, which takes up the entire sixth floor. Rather than the usual spa tables, the spa uses thick mattresses that envelope your body as the therapist kneads away your knots. The menu is filled with luxurious twists on ancient Thai treatments as well as pampering ‘Sense Journeys’ that pair cultural excursions with massages. It all comes at a considerably higher price tag compared to countless great day spas all over the city: A couple’s massage treatment starts at about THB3,800 (HK$980) per person, not counting tax and service charge — more than double that of respectable spa chains outside the hotel. Not quite a gross overcharge if you imagine prices in Hong Kong, but if you care about good value, you might want to reserve Sense Spa for a celebration splurge instead.
As for the all-important pool: Rosewood’s multi-storey waterfall culminates here, in an effort to wash out the noises of the city for guests to lounge peacefully poolside. A bubbling jacuzzi at the infinity end of the pool was perfect for a relaxing dip after a morning sweat session at the fitness centre. The rectangular pool is also long enough for languid lap sessions, but there’s not nearly enough sunning space. With just eight sunbeds concentrated at one end of the pool, you risk uncomfortably locking eyes with other guests as you clink glasses of Pinot Grigio with your beau (so don’t forget to pack your shades).
If you do endeavour to leave the hotel (and the chance of that is actually quite slim), the area has plenty of buzzy hotspots to explore. Starting with brunch, Siri House by developer Sansiri is Bangkok’s answer to Soho House, a two-story hangout dishing avocado toasts from 8am and serving cocktails by the pool — shaken up by the folks behind Maggie Choo’s, Cactus and Sing Sing Theater.
Head to Central Embassy for the shopping — or an Instagrammable coffee break in between browsing the stacks at the top floor’s Open House, a bright, high-ceilinged bookstore and co-working space with a variety of cuisines on offer. A Thai milk tea French toast at Kay’s is a particularly welcome afternoon treat. As the sun sets, duck below to Siwilai Social Club, which spreads out across six zones from sports bar to terrace, serving chargrilled Wagyu steaks and Thai-style grilled items alike. Seeking gorgeous, inventive Thai cuisine? Paste Bangkok comes highly rated by our editors, and recently did a pop-up at Hong Kong’s Tate Dining Room. As far as nighttime skyline views go, you can’t go wrong with Char, Hotel Indigo’s rooftop bar. Or perhaps nearby Wet, a wine bar opened by culinary ingenue Gaggan Anand, will tickle your appetite for vino from independent wineries.
And if you’re still itching for a spot of local culture, you can find a shrine or two nearby (including one unique site dedicated to phalluses, paying tribute to Chao Mae Tubtim, a female fertility spirit.)
While a night at Rosewood’s flagship property in Hong Kong may result in an aching gape in your pocket (we’re looking at close to HK$5,000 a pop for the privilege), in Bangkok the same if not elevated service sets you back under HK$3,000 a night.
A lot of the time while travelling through Asia, you might experience that service is met with a smile — only for you to catch it dissipate the moment they turn away. Fortunately, there’s none of that here. Check-in staff, housekeeping, servers and bartenders were all genuinely helpful with a sunny disposition. To add to that, the hotel’s offerings were attractive enough to keep us entertained within the property throughout our stay, without itching to explore the streets below.
Spectacularly designed, spacious, and with wonderful service throughout our stay, the Rosewood Bangkok certainly sets the stage for an excellent holiday with little to no planning required. Bookmark it for your next emergency getaway when the going gets tough.