The Big Mango’s sweet mix of temples and tuk-tuks, long-tails and night markets, skyscrapers and rooftop bars make it one of the most exciting cities in the world. Like the splendid Chao Phraya River, creativity flows through this town and you’ll find a huge range of fantastic – and excellent value – boutique, design and luxury hotels.
The choice can be overwhelming, but having lived in Thailand and stayed in dozens of hotels across the capital, I give you my pick of the best places to base yourself for a memorable stay.
Best for history: Mandarin Oriental
Polished white-gloved service, elegant interiors, a riverside location plus 140-years of history combine to make this one of the classiest hotels in Asia. The original Author’s Wing hosted the likes of Somerset Maugham, Noel Coward and Graham Greene and retains many of its authentic 19th century features, such as intricately patterned arch windows and the romantic imperial staircase. Elsewhere, there’s the wonderful Oriental Spa, two-Michelin-starred restaurant La Normandie and the jazz and animal print-festooned Bamboo Bar. Formal and fabulous, without ever feeling fusty.
Doubles from THB 13,000 (£307), room only
Best for city living: Akyra Thonglor
The first hotel in Bangkok to declare itself free of single-use plastic, the Akyra Thonglor is ahead of the game in more ways than one. Located in hip and happening Thonglor, surrounded by some of the city’s coolest bars and restaurants, it offers smart accommodation and plenty of local vibes. Rooms are large and fuse dark wood floors with Persian-green walls, plush purple headboards and oversized black and white prints of the city. Most also come with fridges and larders, while suites have full kitchens, washing machines and large balconies – ideal for a longer stay.
Doubles from THB 3,600 (£86), B&B
Best for zen: Park Hyatt
One of Bangkok’s most fashionable new hotels, housed in a soaring free-form building overlooking the leafy Embassy district, but still within easy walking distance of shopping-centric Siam Square. The calming contemporary zen interiors are equally striking; fluid lines, serpentine staircases and plenty of cream stone, contrasted with sharp black accents and modern Southeast Asian art. The 40-metre city view infinity pool is the perfect spot to cool down after a hard day’s sightseeing; the organic Panpuri Spa is super; and the rooftop bar wows with its shimmering city backdrop.
Doubles from THB 8,000 (£182), room only
Best for kitsch: Shanghai Mansion
Hotels don’t come much more kitsch than the fabulous Shanghai Mansion, housed in a 70-year old wing-tipped building in Bangkok’s gastronomically endowed Chinatown district. The look is akin to a camp 1930s opium den, all goldfish ponds, jewel-coloured lanterns and atrium balconies to drape over. The homage continues in the rooms, which come with carved wood kang-style beds, lacquer furnishings, bird cages, faux antiques and ruby red curtains. And, while all this might sound a bit tacky, it’s not. It’s executed beautifully and extremely fun.
Doubles from THB 1,700 (£40), room only
Best for spa fans: The Peninsula
Fresh coconuts, piles of tropical fruit and freshly baked pastries on The Peninsula’s frangipani-framed terrace with the Chao Phraya River splashing alongside must be one of the world’s most delightful hotel breakfasts. Rooms are charming, too; classic gold and ivory with an oriental twist and spectacular river views. And, then there’s the palm-lined pool, cascading over three levels. But the jewel in the hotel’s crown has got to be the spa. Spread over a separate three-storey mansion, decked out in dark teak, sand-coloured marble, carved stone and golden lanterns, with rituals that go on for hours and some of the best therapists in the game.
Doubles from THB 9,400 (£222), B&B
Best for shopping: Siam Kempinski
Attached via an air-conditioned walkway to the swanky Siam Paragon Mall which, in turn, is attached to CentralWorld and a dozen other gigantic retail centres, the Siam Kempinski could not be a better place for busting your baggage allowance. It has more than just an amazing location going for it, though: the rooms are spacious, sunny affairs, decorated in calming green and bamboo tones, the best of which open onto the resort’s four large saltwater swimming pools set in a garden courtyard. There’s also a tip-top spa, free yoga and Muay Thai boxing lessons, and Thai fine-dining restaurant Sra Bua, which was recently given the one-star nod from Michelin.
Doubles from THB 8,900 (£212), B&B
Best for families: Anantara Siam
This crowd-pleasing hotels works on all levels – business, pleasure, spa break – but is especially good for families. Newly updated rooms – white, navy and silver, with batik cushions and pretty Thai murals above the beds – come with all the mod-cons and more than enough space for a roll-out bed. There’s a cracking kids’ club and playground and little ones are given all kinds of lovely personalised amenities, from mini-bathrobes to colouring books and bedtime milk and cookies. Lumpini Park’s pedalo swans are just a short stroll away.
Doubles from THB 6,000 (£143), B&B
Best for LGBT guests: COMO Metropolitan Bangkok
Maybe it’s the modish mid-century design, the sensational Shambhala Spa, the multi-award-winning restaurant Nahm or the shadowy Met Bar, but the COMO Metropolitan has been the darling of Thailand’s stylish LBTQ set for the last decade. The spacious pared-back rooms feel slightly masculine but very chic, with black wooden floors offset with white walls and mustard-coloured rugs. The bathrooms are decadently large and you’re sure to leave with all the lush toiletries in your bag. Pack your best swimwear for peacocking by the pool.
Doubles from THB 4,000 (£103), B&B
Best for views: Sala Rattankosin
This neat boutique hotel rests in a former shophouse on the banks of the Chao Phraya River staring squarely at the ceramic-clad stupas of Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn. The vibe is laid-back, with 15 rooms decorated in monochromatic black and white, complete with exposed concrete pillars and angular iron lampshades. If you can, book one of the suites with temple-facing balconies – there’s no more enchanting a view to awake to. There’s also a gorgeous rooftop bar and excellent Thai restaurant and sun deck.
Doubles from THB 3,200 (£75), B&B
Best for partying: W Bangkok
If you like your hotels party-ready and conceptualised within an inch of their life, the W Bangkok is the one for you. The W brand’s signature sparkle – black marble, sugar pink lighting, disco balls – are combined with eccentric local twists, such as crystal wall murals, a wall of flashing tuk-tuk lights and colour-changing massage beds. Rooms are slightly calmer: silver-hued with shards of coloured glass, big bathrooms and sequinned boxing gloves on the enormous beds. Non-guests flock here to eat and drink at The House on Sathorn, a glorious old colonial-era mansion set in the hotel grounds.
Doubles from THB 5,200 (£123), B&B
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