The High Life
Bangkok is no longer just a backpacker’s hub: the Thai capital is increasingly embracing luxury. There’s no better proof than the country’s first Park Hyatt hotel, writes Marianna Cerini
Bangkok is no longer just a backpacker’s hub: the Thai capital is increasingly embracing luxury. There’s no better proof than the country’s first Park Hyatt hotel
Is Bangkok Asia’s coolest city? As I wake up on the 18th floor of the newly opened Park Hyatt after a night that started with a top-notch oil massage, followed by phenomenal cocktails in a drinking den housed inside an unassuming shophouse, world-class Indianthai fusion at a buzzing restaurant down a tiny alley, and a nightcap at the world’s highest whisky bar, I’m firmly convinced of it.
Despite the series of recent hardships it has endured, the Thai capital shows a dynamism and modernity that is intoxicating, and increasingly nodding towards a new level of sophistication. Sure, backpackers can still be found stumbling down Khao San Road in search of cheap beers and tantalising street food—but for those inclined towards the more indulgent, the options are countless. There are sophisticated bars elevating the art of mixology, award-winning restaurants, a booming art scene and opulent shopping complexes. The opening of the Park Hyatt, the first of its kind in the country, fits neatly into Bangkok’s upmarket revolution.
Infinity-shaped and boasting a façade made of more than 300,000 aluminium shingles inspired by the motifs of the city’s many temples, the complex hosting the Hyatt is an architectural marvel and a distinctive new presence on the city’s skyline. AL_A, the British architecture firm headed by RIBA Stirling Prize-winning architect Amanda Levete, is the creative force behind the design, which plays with intricate Thai patterns, along with light and reflections, to create a moiré-like effect throughout the 37-storey tower. Located on the former site of the British Embassy, the building is divided into two parts: an eight-floor retail podium, aptly named Central Embassy, and the hotel.
A lot of hotels will brag they’re “in the heart of the city” when they’re actually miles from the closest subway stop. Not the Park Hyatt: the skytrain is at the property’s door. If you’re familiar with the daunting traffic that grips Bangkok during rush hour—or the better part of the day, really—then you’ll know this earns the hotel extra points. The adjacent area of Ploenchit and Chidlom is the capital’s business district. It bustles with quality eateries, luxury stores and upscale offices, and it’s low on traditional tourist attractions. In other words: more high life, fewer stifling crowds.
Central Embassy, which hosts the Hyatt, integrates the hotel with high-end retail and two lifestyle hubs: the boutique and dining destination Siwilai City Club, and “co-living space” Open House. With hotel and mall under one roof, you might not even leave the premises during your stay.
New York and Toronto-based firm Yabu Pushelberg, who also served as the designers of the brand’s flagship Park Hyatt New York hotel, led the interior design of the Bangkok property. The duo were asked to create a luxurious private residence where modern met traditional, reflecting both Thailand’s rich culture and Bangkok’s evolving identity. The resulting environment is a study in sleek: a thoroughly contemporary urban setting that’s understated yet intrinsically cool as it unfolds through a series of intimate spaces. Textures, lighting and materials have all been carefully thought through, with the aim of “creating a sense of calm and serenity as you step into the hotel,” says designer Glenn Pushelberg. “We wanted to create a juxtaposition to the cacophony of colours, smells, tastes and sounds Bangkok is made of.”
From a delicate grey-on-cream colour scheme, to a spa with crystal-steam rooms, a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the capital and a saltwater infinity pool overlooking the lights of the city, tranquillity does indeed reign supreme. So does art, a focal point of many Park Hyatt hotels. Two installations by Japanese artist Hirotoshi Sawada are particularly awe-inspiring: Pagoda Mirage, made of hundreds of suspended copper swirls which look like a pagoda sitting over the water; and Naga, batons resembling a water dragon shuttling between the pool and an internal waterfall. They’re both striking, yet there’s no flashiness or pomposity: like the rest of the design elements, they merge into the decor in a subtle, unobtrusive way. It’s minimalism, but with an indulgent flair.
The 222 rooms feature huge marble bathrooms, plush beds and state-of-the-art video and sound systems, but you wouldn’t expect anything less. Besides the obvious luxury fixtures, it’s the service—relaxed but attentive—and the overall ambience— unpretentious, and friendly—that make the property. Breakfast, for instance, is served a la carte: instead of hefty buffets, healthy food stations and cold-pressed juices.
It’s the simplicity of it all that conquers. The grandeur, without any of the ostentation. Bangkok is Asia’s coolest city, and the Park Hyatt’s leading the charge.
dive in The Park Hyatt’s saltwater infinity pool overlooks the city’s skyline and offers sky-high relaxation