Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit
Bangkok is a city awash with hotels. From backpacker bunk beds to 5-star suites, there is anything and everything available to travelers visiting the Big Mango. Due to the high inventory, it’s difficult to stand out. But the Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit manages to do just that.
From check-in, this property had my attention, with a cup of chilled juice and a cold, scented towel waiting to help me take off the steam of the city. The building stands tall — very tall, in fact; 32 stories high on what most would consider to be the most important street in Bangkok, Sukhumvit Road. Some might describe the building as modern. I prefer semi-Art Deco. Metallic blue and gold, the hotel is recognizable from anywhere in the city.
The lobby is impressive, too. After the bell staff collects your bags, an employee offers to let you check-in at reception or upstairs in the club lounge. I chose the lounge. But before heading up, I took a look around.
To my right was Le Macaron, a bistro that featured signature macaroon cookies and the croque monsieur. Despite many trips to France, I’ve never quite been able to pronounce this right (croak-muh-ssure).
To the left of the entrance door is the lobby bar, which looked comfortable though I didn’t sample the libations. Behind the bar is S Gallery, the only art gallery inside a hotel in Bangkok. Every few weeks, a new exhibition is rolled out featuring either a French or Thai artist.
The lobby houses a nearly three-story arch inspired by the Arc de Triomph in Paris. Details in the structure are Thai and represent the blend of the two cultures. On the mezzanine level is Voila!, a restaurant featuring a fresh fish bar, cheese room (yes, a room for turophiles!) and pizza station. The restaurant serves a mix of cuisines and is welcome dining option for weary travelers that may want to put down the chopsticks for a few days.
The club lounge is on the 22nd floor and wraps around the building. I checked in during the afternoon — well ahead of busy cocktail hour — and yet I still found fresh fruit and canapés out for a smattering of working professionals on laptops. If you travel as much as I do, lounges seem to be hit or miss. Often bland and basic with necessary computer stations and laser printers that may or may not work, lounges aren’t usually my favorite. This one has design elements throughout that make it feel like you have been invited to someone’s house rather than just the upstairs elite room of a hotel.
Just look at the bar in this place. It beats the usual reach-in cooler and crackers.
Walking into the room, I noticed to my left a series of closets providing the usual items — robe, slippers, safe — but unlike other properties in the city, the space is ample even for two people. The bed follows as the room opens and the quality is excellent. I slept like a rock despite going to bed early ahead of a 4:30 a.m. departure. At the end of the bed is a chaise lounge (that one I can pronounce with ease) and opposite is storage underneath the TV. My particular room was equipped with a Bose sound system and Illy coffee maker — marks of a good hotel for me.
I don’t usually dedicate much time to the desk of a hotel, unless it is particularly unserviceable. This desk begged you to sit down and work. Correction: this desk begged you to sit down and start writing a novel… by hand. The sleek glass table, convenient leather pad and out-of-the-way lamp impressed me. What I liked even more about this desk was that it was both part of the room and tucked away in a type of mini den. When you needed a full office you were missing only the door. But when it was not time to work, you could truly separate yourself from your business. I had planned on visiting some co-working locations in the city as I’m focusing on a major project. I sat down at the desk and felt no such need.
Another robe awaited me at the door to the bathroom, which is great for me. Not because I am too lazy to walk to the closet and get it myself, but because I never think to do so. It’s these small touches that proves Sofitel knows what their customers want before they do.
The bathroom features marble fixtures, a jacuzzi tub, a walk-in rain shower and a closed-door toilet. There was also a double vanity, helpful when traveling with my family. They also feature Hermés bathroom amenities, something I have never seen before elsewhere.
With a view of the city from anywhere on the patio, L’appart is worth your time even if you aren’t staying at the hotel. From this 32nd-floor perch, the concrete jungle morphs into a series of beautiful lights, made all the more beautiful with a signature Sofitel cocktail in hand. It’s the beauty of Bangkok without the car horns, the calling street vendors and howling motorcycles.
Prices for drinks are on par with other high-end locations in Bangkok and substantially more expensive than the tourist bars on the street level … but they’re worth every penny. I had two cocktails — one was a French/Thai passion fruit mix and the other a traditional Mai Thai — and they were both fantastic.
A stroll through L’Appart had me thinking I was in my friend’s apartment near the Bastille, in Paris. It would be hard to feel out of place in the apartment. I ordered some appetizers, including pork, wagyu beef and lobster sliders and had some of the best pomme frites I’ve ever had.
What I liked most about L’Appart though was the open kitchen, as in a walk-in, walk-through, dine-in kitchen. The chefs were friendly as I peered into their pans and bowls, and were not put off by having someone observing their every move. Certainly, it comes with the territory in this kind of environment, but it wasn’t for show. They were pleased to have visitors, and it changed the whole experience.
I met the manager who had experience all over and we talked about Paris, and cheese, and while it might sound precocious, it was genuine; I could tell he loved welcoming people to his “home.”
On My Next Trip to Bangkok
I have stayed in a dozen different hotels in Bangkok. In fact, I have been there three times in the first two months of this year. So to say I know the city is an understatement. I have some favorite spots, and out of all of the hotels I have tried (W Bangkok, Grand Hyatt Erawan, Le Meridien, Aloft, others) the Sofitel is where I will stay the next time I am in the Thai capital. The reason is simple: the service and atmosphere, in a city of great service, was outstanding. The room itself was top shelf, and among Bangkok’s 5-star hotels, it was priced competitively (about $120-140/night).