From the very first moment, the new Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at Chao Phraya River sets the bar very high for a uniquely luxurious and pleasurable experience. In Bangkok, the thought that one might try to cross the city by road in rush hour is met with a raised eyebrow; forget Mumbai, Bogota, New York even – Bangkok traffic makes quicksand look like WD40. So what better way to arrive at a glamorous five-star hotel than by river, cruising across the gently undulating water with a drink in your hand and your cases nimbly wrangled into secure spaces by agile boatmen?
Standing on a sweeping curve, the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at Chao Phraya River looks over the water on one side, with views in every direction of Bangkok’s sprawling metropolis. However, if you arrive by water, you climb up to a manicured promenade, where one has direct access to the Brasserie Palmiere and the pool area which, cocooned by the tall buildings and the trees, feels quite intimate and secluded. A few steps past the pool and one is at the Italian restaurant, Riva del Fiume, while the two Michelin star Yu Ting Yuan is reached from the inside of the capacious lobby area and Buenos-Aires-style destination cocktail bar BKK is tucked away on the far side.
It is, in fact – I have done it – possible to stay several nights at Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at Chao Phraya River without seeing the main entrance, but do make the effort when you go! Aside from the towering, yet calming, spaces of the lobby, the design work of Jean Michel Gathy has made the entrance a place to behold, with giant panels of gold against the modernist walls of the entrance and the ancient tree at the centre of the sweeping drive – an understated fusion of old and new Bangkok. Inside, the scale of the building is breathtaking, even in a space intended for transit rather than lingering…
Our deluxe river-view room was full of natural light and chic furniture in neutral tones, with those thoughtful little Four Seasons touches that make a stay perfect. A couple of well-chosen Thai cookbooks made the seating area very tempting, but a birthday cake and fruit flavoured sweets also awaited us. We checked in with a charming young gentleman called Nicholas, who showed us around the room and made everything very efficient. The bathroom was enormous, with freestanding bath and ample space for two girls to get their glamour on before a night on the tiles (and what a night awaited us at Yu Ting Yuan and BKK!). If you have a few too many of those delicious cocktails, the breakfast served at Riva del Fiume is ample, with pastries and hot options, all the usual European and Asian buffet delights and proper coffee (they’ll even do an iced version for you to take away too!).
Bangkok might be a frenetic city to visit, but Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at Chao Phraya River is an oasis of calm. Our first afternoon was spent relaxing by the pool, where it never seemed too crowded nor too noisy, but drinks could be ordered with passing staff and you could drift elegantly from the lounger to the water and back again with all your cares melting away. We were also fortunate enough to be able to sample the spa, even though it was not properly open at the time we visited. The premium skincare brand Omorovicza from Hungary is the house pour down here – I would strongly recommend this spa, even though there are very good spas in all Thai luxury hotels, as one of the best in my experience.
Of course, on a trip to Thailand with limited time in Bangkok, there were plenty of more active things to be done by day two! The concierge is willing to make any reservations or recommendations and to help organise transport to key sights, although the easiest way to do this might be to hop back onto the river and head to the main hub of river transport on the free Four Seasons ferry.
One attraction which is accessible directly by the Four Seasons ferry, and which is definitely worth a look for the modern face of Thailand, is the Icon Siam building, which sits just across the river from the Four Seasons. In its glittering, fountain-sprinkled glory, it seems reminiscent of the malls of Dubai; inside too, the enormous open spaces and endless luxury boutiques will keep any shopaholic occupied for days. It’s also home to the Alain Ducasse restaurant, Blue, where we enjoyed an excellent dinner! If you’re not sure where to start in your own exploration of Bangkok, check out our other articles or simply head to the Grand Palace, Chinatown and any Wat or market you fancy (but make sure you avoid rush hour!)!
The Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at Chao Phraya River is at once typical of the Four Seasons brand in its opulence and in the charm and character of its staff, but it is also imbued with its own delightful Thai elegance. Each little nook has a reminder of Thai culture or the architectural quirks of Thai design, while there is also a strong modern aesthetic throughout. Although the hotel has only been open for a couple of years, it’s already an established face on the luxury Bangkok scene, a great place from which to explore the city and a relaxing stay to put the icing on your Thai adventure.
Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at Chao Phraya River
300/1 Charoen Krung Road