Bangkok’s Boutique Wave
Five hotels promise plenty of style and character, without breaking the bank. By ANDREW BURKE
+ THE BHUTHORN
Occupying two century-old shophouses on a village-like square near the Royal Palace, The Bhuthorn is the result of four years of renovation by Bangkok architects Chitlada and Direk Senghluang. The heritage-listed building has been converted into three guest rooms, a library and a café that are filled with Arabesque prints, old bowls, and antique photographs and furniture. Rooms come with fl at-screen TV’s, DVD players and free Wi-Fi as well as a deeply satisfying attention to detail. Service is bed-and-breakfast–style attentive—nothing is too much trouble. This area is full of delicious Thai food: try Nátthàphawn, right next door, for coconut ice cream with fresh beans and nuts, and the legendary Chote Chitr for amazing winged bean salad.
96–98 Phraeng Bhuthorn Road, +66 2622 2270, www.thebhuthorn.com
+ LUXX XL
Following the success of the 13-room Luxx, the owners have gone upscale with Luxx XL on swanky Langsuan Road. The 50 rooms across eight floors range from 33-square-meter studios to two-bedroom suites that are three times that size. All include balconies—some with pleasing pool views—but in some rooms the space is poorly used. It’s a world of chic teak, with floors, furniture and elegantly simple corrugated wainscoting, all teak. Other décor includes fl at-screen TV’s, DVD players and roomy bathrooms that would look classier without stickers on the porcelain. Wi-Fi is included as are movies from the lobby DVD library. If you’re here to shop or do business, Luxx XL is a walk or short taxi to the Siam mall district, and both the Silom and Sukhumvit business areas.
82/8 Langsuan Road, +66 2684 1111, www.staywithluxx.com
+ NAVALAI RIVER RESORT
It’s not what you’d expect from Banglamphu, the world’s most famous backpacker melting pot. Perched on the banks of the Chao Phraya River five minutes from Khao San Road, this busy 74-room boutique hotel delivers on location, style and—the ultimate 21st-century luxury—space. It’s in the midst of Phra Athit Road’s arty bars and cafés, boasts a river ferry at the doorstep and sweeping river views. The rooms have cheeky peep-show bathrooms and are decorated in an edgy, if not wild, range of colors and artworks. Views from the 15 River Breeze rooms are well worth the extra; Serene Corner rooms are mostly view-less. Even if you’re not staying here, stop for a sunset drink at the rooftop pool.
45/1–2 Phra Athit Road, +66 2280 9955, www.navalai.com
Bangkok’s young hipsters flock to Ekamai, an area off Sukhumvit Road, so it’s appropriate this low-rise 18-room hotel is stylish in a retro-chic way. The lobby sets the tone with a glowing red counter and 1970’s-era TV set. Next door is a shop selling old vinyl, jukeboxes and other pop culture paraphernalia. In the spacious studios and one-bedroom suites (from 30 to 62 square meters) you might find Fab Four dolls to amuse you when you’ve tired of the flat-screen TV and free Wi-Fi. Outside, a pool is accompanied by a bar-restaurant serving Thai and Italian food, and live music Monday to Saturday. Pack your dancing shoes as several of Bangkok’s smartest nightclubs are within a five minute walk. Ask about discounts.
72 Ekamai Road (Sukhumvit Soi 63), + 66 2714 7327, www.72ekamai.com
+ BAAN PRA NOND
When Tasma Cotsmire’s grandfather built this colonial-style villa in the 1930’s, he probably never thought it would lay abandoned for 15 years to be reborn a simple, old-style bed-and-breakfast. The yellow-washed buildings now house nine small but bright rooms. The décor takes its cues from the 1940’s, from the floor tiles to the four-post beds, overhead fans, wind-up alarm clocks and crisp white linens. For us, though, chatting with the hosts—in the reception area or around the small pool—is where the real appeal lies. On the downside, the location between two busy roads is noisy: light sleepers beware. Hosts Tasma and Jason are mines of local information, so don’t be shy in seeking their advice.
18/1 Charoen Rat Road, +66 2212-2242, www.baanpranond.com