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W Bangkok

by Nicholas du Pont

Bangkok gives me life. The city is everything and anything all at once. Sensory overload is the name of the game. The noise, the smells, the nightlife, the traffic, the people, the food, the lights – Bangkok comes at you from every angle all at once. And yet, at the same time, it is a city were I often find myself feeling blissfully serene and at peace with the world. The W Bangkok, like the city it calls home, embodies the contrasts that characterize this fascinating city – ultra modern, yet also traditionally Thai. The hotel bills itself as a “5-star urban playground” and it certainly lives up to that, but at the same time I found it to be wonderfully quiet and peaceful when that was what I needed. (And trust me, you need peace and quiet from time to time when in Bangkok.) It is the perfect place to call home while visiting Krung Thep (as the locals refer to the city). Just like the city itself, the W offers its guests exactly what they are looking for, just when they are looking for it.

The contrasts are apparent the moment you pull in to the courtyard of the W. The hotel itself is a modern 31-storey building, and yet it shares the courtyard with The House on Sathorn, a mansion dating back to 1889 that has been beautifully restored and now houses one of the hotel’s restaurants as well as a bar and event spaces. The welcoming lobby, with its polished black and white surfaces, cool purple and pink lighting, and Thai dragon motif on the back wall makes a solid first impression – modern Asian, yet also unmistakably traditionally Thai. As you turn the corner, the wall by the elevators is covered in a myriad of brightly coloured lights – a mural of Tuk-Tuk lights, that blink in various patterns just as they did in their former life as lights on working tuk-tuks. (I loved the colourful display, but it’s definitely best avoided if you’re prone to seizures. Or hungover.)The hotel’s interior design features a theme throughout: Muay Thai. Muay Thai is traditional Thai boxing, a sport cherished throughout the Kingdom. This again embodies contrast – part violent fight, part art form, and all unmistakably Thai. When you arrive in your room, the first thing you will notice is the pair of gold sequinned boxing gloves that replace what would be run-of-the-mill decorative pillows on the bed. And if ever I were going to own a pair of boxing gloves, I would want nothing less than gold sequins! The bedspread at first glance appears to be a traditional Thai motif of dragons and phoenixes, but then you realise that they too are wearing gold boxing gloves. A delightfully playful, modern take on traditional Thai motifs.

As soon as we settled into our fabulous room, my handsome homme du moment and I headed for the pool to cool off. To get to the pool, one must walk through the W’s beautifully equipped, modern gym, where personal trainers who speak English better than I do are on hand to make sure you get a good work out in. That said, we were on vacation, and lifting a cocktail up off the table next to me was as close as I was getting to working out.The pool at the W Bangkok is an oasis within an oasis. The pool itself is a work of art, with sparkling in-pool LED lights laid in the floor and a whispy, cloud-like structure framing the pool. The lights are too cool – at night when you look down at the pool (which is on the 6th floor) from the rest of the building, it appears to be a starry sky. The Wet Deck, as they call it, has both traditional lounge chairs as well as shaded cabanas. You would be hard pressed not to find a place to kick back and relax! To top it all off, once you jump in you realise that the hip, cool music playing by the pool is also playing IN the pool. Yes, they have speakers underwater. #NeverMissABeat. Of course, the bar tenders at the Wet Bar are what really make the day here. The service is fantastic, the beer is cold, and the cocktails are strong. We settled for an ice-cold Singha before graduating to stronger libations.

After a dip and a cocktail or two, we made our way to the AWAY SPA, where we were blown away by how divine the experience was. We were immediately greeted by name and offered cool drinks. We were taken to change, appropriately enough into pairs of Boxer’s shorts, and asked to pick out the lighting theme for the treatment room (we chose pink, of course) as well as which aroma therapy scents we would like. So far, so very good!Our therapists talked with us before going to work about how best to massage us – do we keep stress in certain spots, have you had any injuries, do you like it hard or soft, etc. (Minds out of the gutter, children! It’s all on the up and up here, no pun intended). And then they discussed skin care routines and skin conditions so as to personalise our facials. Needless to say, after two hours of being rubbed, scrubbed, and generally pampered, we left feeling brand-new. If I lived in Bangkok, I am sure I would be there at least once a week.

The W Bangkok features a number of dining options, but the best by far is The House on Sathorn, housed in the historic mansion that sits in the courtyard next to the main building. Chef Fatih Tutak treated us to a dazzling tasting menu, the review of which you can find here.

As we drifted off to bed, stuffed to the gills and feeling utterly satisfied with the state of things, I reflected on how much I had missed out on by not staying at the W on previous trips to Bangkok.The next morning we started our day off at the Kitchen Table, the W’s bistro and breakfast spot (not that we needed to eat again…) But, the dazzling array of Thai, Chinese, Japanese, and Western food, and most importantly made-to-order lattes, sucked us in. There was a ramen bar, made-to-order omelettes and pancakes, enough dim sum to make a panda pop, and a fantastic selection of local and imported fresh fruit. In a city famous for it’s food, the Kitchen Table holds its own.

We spent most of the day exploring Bangkok’s temples, street-food stalls, and generally enjoying the organised chaos that defines this unique city. As we arrived back at the hotel, greeted by their signature welcome mats that are changed to reflect the time of day (good morning, good afternoon, etc.) I was again overcome by the cool calm that prevails in the lobby here. We were offered water at the door (fabulous, attentive yet unobtrusive service, as always) and then made a bee-line for the wet deck, where we again indulged in some ice cold Chang beer before having a pre-dinner cocktail or few. How I missed the W Bangkok on my many previous trips to Bangkok, I don’t know? What I do know is that I will not be making the same mistake twice. See you soon, WBK.

W Bangkok
106 North Sathorn Road
TH-10 10500

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