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

Hong Kong Tatler - - Contents -

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

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