Throughout the years, I’ve amassed quite a list of hotels where I’ve rested my head during travels. Some have been good, some have been fabulous and one … one … has earned the coveted position of “best hotel.”
What property gets to claim this?
The one I recently visited in Bangkok, Sofitel So Bangkok. With a myriad of options in Thailand’s capital, finding one that fits my personality is overwhelming. In fact, it is just something I’ve never even considered … or knew existed. I’ve always just opted for more upscale, in a good neighborhood, amenities I enjoy (read: pool, near mass transit, walking distance to shopping).
Then came Sofitel So. The building itself stole my heart — it is designed to replicate a hard backed book — and inside it is laden with a hip, artsy vibe — thanks to some of Thailand’s best interior designers being brought into the project — and a fabulous lounge designed by Christian Lacroix.
But, that isn’t all.
It plays to my desire for balance. The property brings together the five elements which are found in the adjacent Lumpini Park — fire (the sun overhead), water (of the ponds), metal (of the surrounding environment), wood (of the trees) and earth (of the ground and soil). At Sofitel So, these elements stand separately, but can appeal to the those looking for a range of moods during their travels.
The common areas are vibrant, cozy, and immediately make me feel warm and at-home, even though home is definitely not the sprawling Bangkok (which actually normally makes me feel overwhelmed as I look out at the never-ending skyline).
What element are you?
Then, there are the rooms. Broken down into floors, each element features a renowned Thai designer who crafted their own vision of the said element. It is up to each guest to select which element they wish to experience during their visit.
I chose water, largely because the bathtub actually is installed right up against the edge of the room, with just a large glass window separating me from the outside world (and killer view of Lumpini Park and the Bangkok skyline).
There is metal, which is sleek and provides a burst of white and bright into a stay, thanks to the entirely white room which balances out the hectic cityscape unfolding outside the hotel; wood which is reminiscent of a Thai-style home and envelopes guests in a casual and comforting environment complete with a hand-drawn Siamese mural; earth, an entirely blue room to reflect the largest part of the planet being covered in water, and includes primeval wall paintings adorning the blue walls; and my room style — water, a dark marble-walled room that treats those in these rooms to floor-to-ceiling windows and a dark, calming feel.
In each section of rooms, the halls are open and feature an art installation or something to bring everything together. In water, there are pillars lit with illustrations to convey the different elements.
Each room is equipped with complimentary wifi and a fully integrated Mac Mini Solution that offer television, media options (hello, Airplay awesomeness), Skype, You Tube and more. Bonus points: the sound pipes into the bathroom, too, so while enjoying a relaxing bath in an oversized tub, guests can listen to the television or music.
The pool on the 10th floor is a breathtaking infinity pool overlooking Lumpini Park and the city, and on weekends there are barbecues and more at The Water Club. Next to the pool is So FIT, a full-service fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment (I was delighted to see entertainment built into the cardio machines), personal trainers and classes throughout the week.
On the same floor, there is the Solarium. When I went there, it was just me and the city. Sweeping views, lounge chairs a top a 10th floor lawn … instantly brings about a sense of calm for me.
And then, there is So SPA, a floor above. I’m a sucker for massages (and live in the right place to be a sucker), but when I step into So SPA, that spa smell wafts into my body and reminds me of the luxury I miss with the little massage shops in Chiang Mai. So SPA is nothing like those shops. Stepping into the spa, I am transported to another world of forests and pure luxury. I indulge in an Indian head massage with a coconut oil treatment for my hair and a 60-minute Swedish massage. Joy, my therapist, is perfect, applying the perfect amount of pressure.
Eats and drinks
The top floor of Sofitel So is home to Park Society, a swanky rooftop restaurant and bar perched on the 29th floor. It’s the place that make me thankful I’ve packed nice clothing for my upcoming travels. At night, the restaurant is awash with candle light and spectacular views of the city, reflected in beveled mirrors. Here, it feels like an entirely different world than the one below. While not many vegetarian options, the menu is a foodie’s paradise (I’m looking at you, truffled mashed potatoes). Service is impeccable and on the night I dined there, I was given three beautiful amuse buches (a flavorful salsa a top a thin french “toast,” raspberry and mango jelly topped with passion fruit sorbet, and to end the evening, three different types of bite-sized chocolates). If the food and wine selection isn’t enough (I couldn’t decide on which wine to get, so got to sample both before making my decision), there is HI-SO, Moonlit Cabanas. With candles illuminating the area, this is the place to sip cocktails and spend time with friends (note to self: next time, make friends).
One of the best buffets I’ve ever experienced is located on the seventh floor of Sofitel So, Red Oven, World Food Market. The crowning glory of this spot is (yup) a red oven which costs around 10 million baht (the same price as a Ferrari). Here, diners can choose numerous food options spread over different stations. The best part? If the morning breakfast buffet isn’t enough, it is open for lunch and dinner, too.
The ninth floor is home to not only the guest check-in area, but also MIXO, Liquids and Stories. It’s where, upon arrival, guests are served a sweet “magic” drink and where people can order up molecular cocktails.
Club Signature, the area designed by Lacroix, also features dining and drinks, but is only open to those who stay in the suites or who pay a surcharge. But, trust me, the views at sunset are well worth it.
Finally, there is Chocolab, Experimental Melting situated on the street level. While I didn’t treat myself to any chocolate, this place is essentially a chocolate-lovers dream. Its got a buffet. Yes. A. Buffet.
The bottom line
With sleek, sweet design, amazing customer service, food options galore and amenities that make other properties blush, Sofitel SO is my ideal place to stay in Bangkok. It lets me escape the gritty city and create an oasis of calm and beauty, with the city as its backdrop. It isn’t filled with families, it’s filled with people my age and older, who seem to enjoy and relish the vibe it emits. I’ve stayed at quite a few hotels in Bangkok and this one, by far, stole my heart.
Editor’s Note: I was a guest of Sofitel So, however all opinions are my own. If you have questions regarding this, please read my disclosure policy.