1. Mandarin Oriental
The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok stands on its own in terms of prestige and history. Over 100 years old, the Oriental’s riverside grandeur has played host to a proud list of clientele, including Elizabeth Taylor and Mick Jagger. It has also revived (and inspired) many a weary literary soul sampling the charms of Siam, including the likes of Noel Coward, Somerset Maugham, Norman Mailer, Joseph Conrad and Ernest Hemingway.
The older Author’s Wing retains its magical aura of ‘the East’ of antiquity with its picturesque parlors, each named for a scribe they once hosted. The Garden Wing offers similar heights of nostalgic luxury, while the modern River Wing and Tower offer more contemporary design. And if it weren’t obvious by all the plaudits that have rained down on this five-star landmark over the years, high tea in the Mandarin Oriental’s library is one of Bangkok life’s major dining pleasures.
48 Oriental Avenue, +66 (0)2 659 9000
Right across the river from the Oriental is the Peninsula, a global brand that oozes understated elegance and luxury. The restaurants are consistenly superb; local diners swear by its Mei Jang restaurant for those with a craving for authentic yet innovative Cantonese cuisine. Outiside, nothing beats sitting on the terrace for breakfast, coffee in hand, watching the morning rush on the Chao Phraya River.
Speaking of the river, all the rooms offer views of it while some come with balconies and outdoor Jacuzzis. They’re incredibly spacious too, filled with plenty of sophisticated furnishings and added touches, including built-in TVs you can watch while soaking in the bubble bath. Divine.
333 Charoennakorn Road, Klongsan, tel. +66 (0)2 861 2888
Completing the riverside ‘golden triangle’ of luxury is the Shangri-La, a sprawling complex across from the Peninsula with so many classes of rooms it boggles the mind. There are 799 luxurious guest rooms in two adjacent towers, the Shangri-La Wing and the Krungthep Wing, all with those quintessential Thai touches, including silk and teak finishings, many tourists want when they come to Thailand.
For something unique, climb onto one of their nightly riverboats for a dinner buffet cruise. A far cry from the tacky, flashy cabaret style boats that cruise up and down the Chao Phraya, diners can expect the same level of service and food offered at the hotel’s restaurants.
Shangri-La Hotel, 89 Soi Wat Suan Plu, New Road, tel. +66 (0)2 236 7777
4. Banyan Tree
Modern, glassy and classy, this Sathorn-based hotel is a favorite with business travelers due to its central location. It’s one of highest hotels in the city, even hosting a yearly vertical marathon for charity. The rooms are certainly spectacular, with floor to ceiling windows opening up to panoramic city views and all the top amenities one would expect from a super luxurious hotel, but it’s the dining experiences that set this one apart.
Bangkok’s Banyan Tree Hotel has three separate venues that tower over the city. Vertigo’s specialty is barbecued seafood, though it also grills a mean steak and has a good vegetarian menu. Pier59 is all about seafood. Lattitude is a lounge that serves Asian tapas. Not for acrophobics.
21/100 South Sathorn Road, tel +66 (0)2 679 1200
This is the luxury hotel for those who want to lay their head somewhere dripping with Thai-influenced elegance that’s still contemporary in feel. Also on the prestigious Sathorn Road, the Sukhothai’s grounds are sprawling and lush and unusually resort-like for a central Bangkok hotel.
And unlike many luxury hotels that stick you in a cramped box unless you splurge on a suite, even the Sukhothai’s smallest rooms are still a spacious 38 square meters. The hotel’s top suite, meanwhile, is more than 198 square meters, has a lounge area with a grand piano, private dining room, fully equipped kitchen, study, bedroom with dressing room and grand bathroom.
Sukhothai Hotel, 3/3 South Sathorn Road, tel. +66 (0)2 344 8888
6. Grand Hyatt Erawan
They don’t get much more grand than this. Sitting on Rajdamri Road within walking distance of Bangkok’s top shopping district, the Grand Hyatt Erawan has been continuously renovating and adding to its property in recent years. This includes the massive i.sawan Residential Spa, which has its very own spa cottages separate from the regular hotel suites and rooms.
The regular Grand Hyatt rooms are super chic and spacious but best of all are their plush duvets that you can take several minutes to drag yourself out from under. Be sure to try out the hotel’s new eatery, Tables, designed by New York’s Tony Chi. It’s gaining fast fans and good reviews and is unique in that many of the European style meals are cooked table side.
494 Ratchdamri Road, tel. +66 (0)2 254 1234.
7. Four Seasons
Right next door to the Grand Hyatt is the spacious Four Seasons, a favorite of the city’s high society who flock to its chic eateries and bars. Beef lovers will want to check out Madison, the hotel’s renowned steakhouse, while Shintaro offers innovative Japanese cuisine.
There are 354 rooms, including 35 suites and seven enchanting garden cabanas. That’s right, cabanas, which offer a private entrance, and an outdoor dining patio set amongst landscaped gardens, overlooking the pool and a lotus pond.
155 Rajadamri Road, tel. +66 (0)2 126-8866
Lebua hasn’t even been around that many years but it still managed to secure a spot on our list thanks to its unashamed dedication to providing guests with truly luxurious digs filled with everything from Egyptian cotton sheets to Bulgari amenities.
Late last year lebua debuted its Tower Club suites, on the top floors of the hotel, and the Seven Society, an invite-only membership offering various perks including VIP reservations and concierge services, upgrades to the Tower Club and guaranteed reservations at the State Tower’s The Dome restaurants, which are among the city’s most famous.
1055 Silom Road, +66 (0)2 624 9999
9. Dusit Thani
Part of the expanding Thai Dusit brand, this 40-year-old hotel on the corner of Silom and Rama IV road is a favorite among the locals, particularly high society. The location doesn’t get much better than this, while the 517 rooms and executive suites are distinctively Thai.
The dining options at the Dusit Thani are super impressive too, with a whopping 13 restaurants and bars on offer. Our favorite is French eatery D’Sens, the brainchild of the Michelin-starred Pourcel brothers from southern France.
946 Rama IV Road, +66 (0)2 200 9000
10. Pan Pacific
This is one of the top hotels on our list for business travelers, sitting right on the corner of Silom across from Lumpini Park and the Suan Lum Night Bazaar offering easy access to the BTS and MRT. Taking advantage of the recent downturn in tourists, last year the Pan Pacificunderwent a complete overhaul and the results are impressive — right down to the imported push button Japanese toilets.
For Bangkok residents, the best part of the renovations is the new sky-high Panorama restaurant. The dishes are innovative, the surroundings uber chic and the Finishing Post whiskey bar will lure even the only occasional drinker to settle in for a few. And then there’s Sunday brunch, one of the city’s best.
952 Rama IV Road, BTS: Sala Daeng, tel+66 (0)2 632 9000
11. Shanghai Mansion
This boutique hotel is definitely Yaowarat’s finest. The 1930s Shanghai décor at Shanghai Mansion, smack in the middle of Chinatown, has been executed flawlessly, from the antique furnishings to the colorful wallpaper. The building has historical significance, being one of the first nine-story buildings in the early Chinatown community, making it one of the district’s early important architectural landmarks.
Suites vary in size and decor but our favorite is the bright Mu Don Peony Classic, with its beautiful four-poster Chinese wedding bed, living area, and contemporary bathroom.
479-481 Yaowarat Road, Samphanthawong, tel. +66 (0)2 678 0101
12. Arun Residence
Stashed at the end of a side street near Wat Po, this boutique hotel has just seven rooms, all of which offer views of the bustling waterway, where barges and long-tail boats buzz by throughout the day. And you’ll also have a view of Wat Arun — the temple of the dawn — with its spire that pokes up into the sky.
Arun Residence’s restaurant has a balcony that looks out over the Chao Phraya as well, perfect for sunset drinks.
36-38 Soi Pratoo Nok Yoong, Maharat Road, tel. +66 (0) 22 21 9158
The Eugenia is a convincing shot-for-shot remake of a Raj-era manor. The boutique hotel’s outward appearance belies an interior flush with the genuine booty of erstwhile hunting excursions throughout its halls and antique Colonial-era furniture within its 12 suites. The look, if not the cost, is classic 1920s India.
There’s a reading room and — unlike most Bangkok boutique hotels — an elegant emerald pool, while a private dining room is also available. To complete the motif, request one of The Eugenia’s vintage airport transfer coaches.
267 Sukhumvit Road, Soi 31, tel. +66 (0)2 259 9017
One look at the Tenface lobby proves that serviced apartments are no longer reserved for software engineers or management consultants on long-term assignments. For less than the price of a decent hotel in the area you’ll get a spacious suite with plenty of room for entertaining — not that you’ll want to hang out in your room, as its cozy bar is as chic as it gets.
Tenface offers guests some pretty useful amenities. Our favorites are the prepaid Skytrain card, mobile SIM card and iPod Nano (which must be returned upon check-out, of course). Though Tenface is just 10 minutes away from the nearest Sky Train station and close to lots of restaurants and nightlife, it’s hidden enough from the main road that it still feels like Bangkok’s best kept hotel secret.
81 Soi Ruamrudee 2, Wireless Road, Lumpini, tel. +66 (0)2 695 4242
The Bhuthorn, an intimate B&B, is a sepia-tinted homage to the early 20th century, an age when the city’s well-to-do went nuts for all things European. Filled with gold-gilt mirrors, old Bangkok prints, claw-footed lamps and teak furniture, it looks like a leftover from King Rama V’s era.
Restored and run by two Thai architects, it occupies two century-old shophouses and overlooks an adorable, heritage-listed square in the old city. The three rooms each have flatscreen TVs and free wi-fi, and are sumptuously decorated. Breakfast is taken in an ickle courtyard teeming with potted ferns.
96-98 Phraeng Bhuthorn Rd., San Chao Phor Seua, Phra Nakhorn, tel. +66 (0)2 622 2270
16. Novotel Siam Square
Right in the middle of Bangkok’s most popular teen shopping haunt, Siam Square, the four-star Novotel offers great value for money. It’s decor is super chic and the restaurants on par with some of the city’s five-star places. It’s a popular choice for families, offering family rooms and special kids’ menus.
There’s a decent-sized pool, fitness center and nightclub, while the easy access to the BTS makes it one of the top choices for those looking to be right in the middle of the action. The boutiques and Thai restaurants surrounding the Novotel are definitely worth checking out as well.
392/44 Siam Square Soi 6, Rama I Road, tel. +66 (0)2 209 8888
17. Phra Nakorn Norn Len
Rumor has it Phra Nakorn Norn Len was a former “no-tell motel,” a one-stop in-and-out dive for one night stands. Today, it’s the antithesis. Loved for its down-to-earth management, Phra Nakorn Norn Len tries to recreate the spirit of a small traditional Thai community. Smoking is forbidden. Sex tourism is a no-no and don’t ask for the remote: there are no TVs.
This Bangkok boutique hotel doesn’t so much cater to whims as it tries to build an atmosphere of shared values. It might sound forced but it works as guests gush over the healthy, communal ambiance Phra Nakorn Norn Len promotes.
46 Thewet Soi 1, Banglumphoo, tel. +66 (0)2 628 8188
18. Baioke Sky
A diamond back in its hey day, today the Baioke Sky is a contemporary hotel with clean, quality rooms and some decent amenities. That’s all fine, but the real reason to stay here is the view.
The Baioke Sky is Thailand’s tallest building — for now — and visitors can head right to the top for dinner and drinks, and at a fraction of the cost of the city’s other sky high dining options. The neighborhood immediately surrounding the hotel isn’t fancy, but it’s a quick walk away from the popular Rajprasong and Pratunam shopping districts. It’s also one of the few hotels in Bangkok to offer a specially designated secure “ladies only floor” with amenities that cater to women.
222 Rajprarop Road, tel. +66 (0)2 656 3000.
19. Suk 11
This small guesthouse has managed to gain a fair bit of media coverage in the five years since its opening due to its quirky décor and family feel. Despite being on Sukhumvit 11, notorious for its nightlife, Suk 11 is all about clean living — read no unregistered guests welcome and smoking is a no-no too.
There are basic rooms with shared toilets and showers as well as en suites, ranging in size from singles to rooms that will hold up to five people. The real draw is the quirky, rustic decor.
1/13 Soi Sukhumvit 11, tel. +66 (0)2 253 5927
20. Baan Dinsor
If you want to be near the Khao San Road action but not IN the action, this is the place to stay. Only a 10-minute walk from Khao San Road, Baan Dinso feels more like a civilized 1920s home than a backpacker hostel (and, therefore, is NOT the place to say if you plan on coming home wasted on Sangsom every night).
Light beige walls, original copper fittings and endearingly creaky teakwood floors fill this dainty former nobleman’s house, while the nine rooms — all with cable TV, snug beds and floral curtains — look like every English grandma’s spotless spare room. Unlike most hostels in the vicinity of Khao San Road, the service is sweet, not sour.
113 Trok Sin, Dinso Road, tel. +66 (0)2 622 0560