Bangkok is awash in luxury five-star hotels. If you love luxury accommodation, you are spoiled for choice in the City of Angels. The extensive selection and relatively low prices make Bangkok an irresistible destination for travellers who appreciate higher end vacations, but at the same time, it makes it difficult for hoteliers to differentiate themselves in a saturated market.
The unique exterior design of the Rosewood Bangkok, with its two connecting high rise structures which are said to be inspired by the shape of hands performing the traditional Thai greeting called a “wai”, is certainly distinctive and has been attracting attention both locally and in the international press. However, while having a unique and visually striking architecture might be enough to catch the eye and grab a few headlines, these alone are not enough to capture the custom and loyalty of travellers in the long run.
I have stayed in many luxury hotels over the years and what struck me during my stay at Rosewood Bangkok was the attention to detail and the quality of the furnishings, fittings and amenities, and this is where I think they will stand out in a crowded market.
Rosewood Bangkok is located on Ploenchit Road right before the start of Sukhumvit Road and is conveniently connected by an elevated walkway to Ploenchit BTS Skytrain station. Many of the newer 5-star hotels along the Skytrain line have direct connections built to the nearest station, which is a great idea and very convenient, but I always wonder how that works. Does the hotel pay to have the connection to the BTS station built?
Our taxi approached the hotel along Ploenchit Road heading east to west. However, the Rosewood is located on the other side of the street, on the eastbound traffic side. If you have any experience with mid-afternoon Bangkok traffic, you will understand how it took 30 minutes to get to the other side of the road via various sidestreets and u-turns. For some reason, the driver tried to approach the hotel from behind via a backstreet and misjudged by a block in the downstream of traffic (there is no going back up without taking another 30 minutes), so we had to drag our suitcases into the hotel from the street. There is a small driveway and front door with porters on the ground floor, who quickly whisked us upstairs to the marble and brass lobby on the 7th floor. The front desk staff were friendly and attentive, and we were soon shown to our room.
Our room was an entry level Deluxe room on the 20th floor with a west facing aspect with views of the city. Waiting for us in our room were a couple of lovely surprises; The first thing that caught my eye was what turned out to be one of the most delicious strawberry tarts I have ever tasted. This tart was one of the many sublime creations that executive pastry chef Florian Couteau conjures up downstairs at Lakorn (more on that later). Also on the marble-top coffee table, next to a handwritten welcome card from the general manager was a gift bag from the Rosewood spa, Sense, containing a zippered pouch containing little tubes of foot balm, English pear hand cream, dew lip balm and a citronella body mist. I didn’t use them during our stay but have been using them since we returned home, and the hand cream especially has a lovely, calming scent.
The 42 square meter room had a small sitting area with a white linen-covered sofa and two matching cushions, a marble-top coffee table, a single seater chair and a couple of side tables on either side of the sofa. The couch was very comfortable to lean back in and read a book, and there was plenty of reading material around the room, from hardcover coffee table books on Thai culture and history to a leather-bound Bangkok guide book.
A nice touch that you don’t see so much anymore, (or at least not done as well); a full stationery set! Who does that any more? Not just Bangkok themed Rosewood branded postcards, but a complete letter set with envelopes. The old-school luxury traveller in me appreciated this touch, and I still use one of the cards a bookmark which reminds me of my stay every day.
The bedroom features floor to ceiling windows and luxurious touches are everywhere, from the elegant coffered ceilings to the 600 thread-count Frette brand bedsheets.
The floor to ceiling windows extend into the bathroom, with marble floors, a freestanding bath and marble double sinks. Again, in the bathroom, the high quality of the fittings and amenities continues. From the Dyson hair dryer to the Evian bottled water to the Rosewood branded Frette bath towels and Kohler taps and fittings, everything is chosen with care with luxury being the only factor. The freestanding bathtub had great views of the city below (I didn’t close the blinds- I am assuming people can’t see in from the outside), and a bathtub pillow. I must say I was a bit worried about spilling water from a bath overflow as the bathtub is very close to the carpet of the bedroom.
If I had to offer one criticism of the room at Rosewood, it would be that there was nowhere to place used bath towels. I think there might be one on the shower door, but it seems like a slight design oversight.
The bathroom amenities come in a nice big pouch that I would have loved to take home as a souvenir (unfortunately you are not supposed to; I called the front desk and asked). Most four or five-star hotels will provide a comb or hairbrush (rarely both), but more often than not it will be a single-use plastic one. At Rosewood Bangkok they are made of wood, and I am still using the comb at home, almost a month after our stay.
On the 9th floor, you will find the gym/fitness studio, G&O, an upscale organic cafe and the hotel swimming pool. It was peak summer season in Bangkok during our stay, and very hot, and the pool at the Rosewood was the first one we had been in all week that was actually refreshing. What I mean by this is that the water was cool, not warm like so many other hotel pools at that time of year.
While it wasn’t so crowded during our visit to the pool (mid-morning to noon) there are only twelve poolside lounges so if you are planning on spending a day by the pool, I recommend not leaving it too late, or depending on how full the hotel is you may not find a spot. Also, due to the aspect and shape of the building, the pool area is in constant shade; good for those who like to stay out of the sun, but you won’t be getting a tan here.
Lakorn is the name of the all-day dining venue located on the 7th floor. The word lakorn in Thai, while commonly associated today with corny Thai soap operas, actually originally comes from the words for drama, or theatrical performance. The theatrical theme permeates the design of the space, with some seating designed to recall theatre box seating (see either side of the photo above). Adorning the floor to ceiling windows were hundreds of fon lep, the six-inch brass fingernails worn by performers of the traditional Thai folk dance called the Fon, a dance that many tourists are familiar with.
On centre stage is a selection of pastries, fresh fruits, cheeses, jams and compotes. Rosewood eschews the huge buffet breakfasts typical at most hotels and offers a selection of set menu items, or guests can also choose a la carte items such as eggs any style, bacon, sausages etc. as well as some traditional Thai options.
Being an all-day dining venue, of course lunch and dinner is served, with some of the dinner menu highlights being poached halibut, duck confit, and the 200-gram wagyu tenderloin Tournedos Rossini. The highlight (for me at least) has got to be the dessert trolley, and chef Couteau’s signature Rosewood dessert, the Baba au rhum, served with vanilla sour cream and a choice of spiced rum, pineapple syrup or mango rum syrup.
On the 19th floor you will find Rosewood’s Chinese restaurant Nan Bei, meaning South and North in Chinese. The entrance to which is fast becoming an Instagram must shoot for people looking for a unique shot. Upon exiting the elevators, you are greeted by a large moon-shaped window/seat through which you can see over 600 magpies suspended over the top of a ten storey indoor waterfall that cascades down to the pool on the 9th floor. The moon and the magpies are integral to the Chinese legend of the Weaver Girl and the Cowherd, (starcrossed lovers who were only able to meet once a year by crossing a bridge formed by 600 magpies) which inspires the design throughout the restaurant. This magical theme continues throughout the restaurant, including the private dining rooms which contain beautiful large wall paintings by local artist Pomme Chan ( http://www.pommechan.com/). I reached out to the artist and asked her about the pieces she did for Nan Bei;
“The illustration represents the magical pond where the two lovers, the weaver girl and the cowherd, first meet. The organic shaped mirrors that represent this magical pond are mounted on top of my illustration.
Unfortunately, during our stay, Nan Bei was fully booked out, so we were unable to sample any of the dishes on offer but we were able to grab a seat at the bar to try one (or two) of the whiskey and teas pairings (yes, whiskey and tea pairing is a thing). Some of the carefully selected pairings on offer include Glenfiddich 15 with Black Snake, a black tea with a hint of dark fruit, maple wood and spice (THB640), and Macallan 18 with Non Smoked Lapsang, which has a “rich, smooth and earthy taste complex overtones ranging from plums to dates to chocolate” (THB800).
With a number of huge luxury hotel launches set for Bangkok this year, Rosewood Bangkok is first out of the gate and pulls no punches in the quest to be at the top of the bucket list for seekers of luxury and quality. Rosewood Bangkok will distinguish itself in a crowded market with attention to detail and a rare high quality from top to bottom.
1041/38 Ploenchit Road
Lumpini, Pathumwan Bangkok