All images courtesy of Sofitel So Bangkok.
Following a truly legendary stay in Hanoi, I headed to Bangkok for my next Sofitel experience.
While both my stays in Hanoi and Bangkok were with Sofitels, the two hotels couldn’t be more different. In Bangkok, I stayed at a Sofitel So, which is the AccorHotel Group’s hotel’s newest branch of Sofitel. Sofitel Legends feature five-star, historically-focused luxury accommodations dedicated to delivering a relaxing, rejuvenating, and cultural experience. Sofitel Sos are like the punchy, fun, younger sister.
We were welcomed into Sofitel So Bangkok by some very stylish attendants. Like our Metropole staff, the So employees were dressed in traditional garb of the country. However, our Bangkok greeters’ attire had more contemporary flair. Not surprising, given that the entire hotel, from top to bottom, inside and out, down to the clothing of the staff and its custom tree of life logo, was designed by Christian Lacroix. The brilliantly-colored, multi-patterned fabrics are evocative of traditional Thai costumes, but feature modern cuts and lines. Indeed, they reflect a cultural and generational bipolarism that is also embraced in the capital city of Thailand.
Mssr. Lacroix blends French and Thai styles with his elaborate signature patchwork. One style of a woman’s front desk uniform mixes a red shoulder sash reminiscent of classical Thai dress worn with a long-sleeve blouse and skirt. Alternatively, there is a tailored blouse complemented by a full, flowing knee-length skirt. Similarly, male front staff has the choice of classical Thai jacket and baggy knee-length pantaloons or a modern version of a high-collar Thai jacket with Western trousers.
The color palette on the attendants and throughout the hotel ranges from brilliant vermillion red to Easter pastels, and the patterns are drawn from the five elements that are thematically woven throughout the entire hotel. The fabrics are opulent, rich, and detailed, translating Mssr. Lacroix’s daring catwalk style into avant-garde uniforms.
Mssr. Lacroix’s unmistakable aesthetic unifies the entire property, breathing creative, uptempo contemporary life into every inch. Mssr. Lacroix has combined his personal take on French elegance, theatrical flair, fantasy and folklore with the symbolism of the traditional Five Elements of Eastern philosophy – Water, Earth, Wood, Metal, and Fire – that inspire the hotel’s overall design concept, along with touches of Thai style.
The Sofitel So reaches 30 stories into the sky, affording it an incredible view over Lumpini Park. The hotel itself sits on a modern glass, zinc, and stone podium with strong clear definition, and the metallic blue tower stands boldly on the inland Bangkok skyline.
Founded in the 1920s by King Rama VI and named after the Nepalese birthplace of Buddha, Lumpini Park is the Central Park of Bangkok, a place where Eastern philosophy merges with modern day spiritualism. The 140 acres of verdant greenery provides a space for creativity and interaction for citizens from all walks of life, from elders practicing Tai Chi at dawn, to nine-to-fivers out for a lakeside jog after the working day.
The hotel architecture was designed by Smith Obayawat of OBA Architect. Obayawat designed Sofitel So Bangkok as a bold statement of art and design, to create a monument to contemporary sophistication. At the center of it all is the Tree of Life, the hotel’s emblem that encapsulates all of the Five Elements into one, creating a harmonious balance, enriched by the spirit of time and of the seasons. Rainbow in color, this “Neo Arbre de Vie” is an Asian reinterpretation of an ancient symbol of nature found in the West and East.
Following the elemental themes of the hotel, So Bangkok offers four different kinds of rooms for guests: water, earth, wood, or metal. The fire element is represented in the dining options, which include the Red Oven restaurant, which features an open fire pit. So Bangkok invited five visionary designers to create these distinct element spaces throughout the hotel.
Fire: Indulgence and Flair
As the visionary behind many of Asia’s award-winning designs, Rujiraporn Pia Wanglee draws on the city’s rich past and revolutionary age to create inspiriting spaces, using the fire element to create dynamic spaces, adding the elusive yet omnipresent Bangkok soul into each iconic restaurant and meeting space.
Water: Sophistication and Calm
Known for his aesthetics of clean lines and timeless appeal, Pongthep Sagulku of August Design has received numerous accolades from the Association of Siamese Architects. Drawing inspiration from Bangkok’s unique skyline, he has created a seamless stage to drink in the views of this ever-changing city in the water element rooms.
The sophisticated dark pantone décor affirms the elegance and stillness of water, with the low-lit interiors allowing the striking view of Bangkok to be captured in a sleek living photo frame of floor-to- ceiling windows. Bathtubs sunken into underlit platforms next to full length windows make for a picturesque soak.
Earth: Wonder and Enrichment
Interior designer Vitoon Kunalungkarn of IAW Design has been the driving force behind Bangkok’s most chic properties. For Sofitel So Bangkok’s earth element rooms, he looks back to the roots of humanity, exploring Thailand’s wonder to create a cocoon of comforts, grounded in simplicity and in tune with Mother Nature.
Earth rooms are located on the 21st to 24th floors, with décor featuring prehistoric paintings set against a ravishing blue background, evoking wonderment. Curved archways and walls mimic caves in Northeastern Thailand where the primeval cave art inspirations were borrowed from. Checkered black and white marble tiles in the bathroom add style to the otherwise fantastical interior.
Wood: Elegance and Tranquility
Founder and president of the 49 Group, Nithi Sthapitanonda is renowned for his multi- disciplinary approach to design, drawing inspiration from Thai heritage homes to create the wood element rooms, with wood and light interacting to recreate spaces as art.
Heritage northern Thai-styled homes lend inspiration to the rooms on the 11th and 17th to 20th floors. The earth-toned rooms evoke a sense of tranquility, with wooden louvered windows doubling up as a light-and-shadow art installation. Each room features a wall mural depicting traditional scenes of old Siam, hand sketched by the rooms’ designer Khun Nithi Stapitanonda, also famed as a Thai national artist.
Metal: Purity and Modernity
Somchai Jongsaeng of Deca Atelier designed the metal element rooms based on the concept that spaces are reflections of their locale. A haven of soothing colors and textures are suspended in tranquility at the crossroads of time and space. His creation invites guests to contemplate the addictive momentum of Bangkok by pausing for a moment of introspective reflection.
Located on the 14th to 16th floors, the metal element rooms represent purity and elegance. Inversely inspired by the city bustle of Bangkok, the bright and airy spaces are immaculately simple yet inviting with their shades of white and sleek metallic details, including Ramayana-inspired clouds hanging above the headboard.
Feng Shui brings individual balance through the synergy of the five elements, each with their own unique energy and characteristics. Guests can walk the enhancement path, choosing their corresponding element to boost inner energy, the balance path to choose a supporting element, or they can just throw caution to the wind and walk with an entirely unexpected element on the discovery path.
So Bangkok is the first hotel in Asia to offer a fully connected lifestyle, with all 238 rooms and suites equipped with fully integrated Mac mini media solutions which, when complemented with a 40” LCD television, offer an unprecedented range of media entertainment and guest services at the touch of a button. iPads are also available for suite stayers.
For guests who wish to stay in touch internationally, there is an online web radio broadcast live from the hotel, as well as a live webcam streaming of the Bangkok skyline and Lumpini Park.
Adorning the walls of the lounge are two murals that display an amalgamation of Sofitel’s French roots while respecting the Thai essence of Bangkok. At the entrance, a surreal art piece portrays a unique interplay between ancient Siam and 19th century France, with figures dressed in historical French clothes, but having the heads of flowers commonly found in Thailand – orchid, lotus, red coral, peony, and rose – while mythological creatures prowl at their feet. Another fresco depicts European figures decked out in Thai-inspired prints in a kaleidoscopic palette of bright colors.
Personalized check-in and a welcome mini-massage at So SPA are offered to club guests, who can also enjoy complimentary use of a MacBook Air at the lounge. In addition to all day refreshments and non- alcoholic beverages, guests also enjoy breakfast, afternoon tea, and evening cocktails served at Club Signature daily during set hours. We enjoyed our check in with Michel, who, echoing the culturally rich city of Bangkok, is just one of the internationally-traveled multilingual members of the knowledgeable staff at Sofitel’s Club level.
During my stay, I enjoyed daily breakfast in the beautiful Red Oven restaurant. With design inspiration drawn from the fire element, all cuisine venues, meeting spaces and public areas exude indulgence and flair. The UK-based Gorgeous Group, creator of award-winning bars and restaurants in Europe, provided the food and beverage concepts at Sofitel So Bangkok. The Red Oven served up a delicious and diverse breakfast spread, with exotic cuisine from all over the world.
At street level, guests with a sweet tooth can find confectionary nirvana, Chocolab. Expert chocolatiers at the laboratory-turned-factory melt and shape cacao creations using premium French Bonnat chocolate, the oldest in the world. The workshop is encased behind glass windows in full view, with confectionary made to taste and order.
Tucked against the opposite end of Park Lobby away from the So Welcome table on the 9th floor, MIXO serves up refreshing cocktails such as its signature tipple Pink Peppercorn Spiced Bellinni along with the panoramic park view. Guests can tap into their inner mixologist to craft their very own concoction, with the inspiration behind each creation immortalized in a lavish log book kept at the bar. I even joined them for Wine Down Fridays, when hotel attendees and general public alike, for a fee, enjoy free-flow bubbles and Spanish tapas to either wind down their work week or turn up for weekend ahead.
So Fit on the 10th floor is So Bangkok’s fully equipped fitness center featuring the latest Technogym equipment under the guidance of professional personal trainers. There is also a dedicated aerobics room where daily classes are led by cardiovascular experts. Guests can also enjoy separate men’s and women’s steam and sauna facilities.
The Water Club on the 10th floor consists of a 33.6m-long outdoor infinity pool with tunes piped in for underwater musical enjoyment. The view is riveting view, facing Bangkok’s business districts, filled with skyscrapers and busy city life. The water in the infinity pool seemingly flows into the nearby Lumpini Park, giving the impression of swimming in mid-air high above the bustling city streets. Bartenders at the poolside bar can mix up a Rehab cocktail to kick start the day with an energy boost. Sun seekers can also bask in the rays at the solarium, positioned to take advantage of the sun from dusk until dawn.
Two cities, and two very different versions of Sofitels. Despite their contrasting styles, there’s no question that Sofitel is a world leader in delivering truly exceptional travel experiences. So Bangkok’s spunky personality is unmistakably Sofitel, from its premiere hotel services to its unforgettable dining down to the couture sartorial styling. As a guest or a traveler, one simply cannot miss indulging in at least one outing at Bangkok’s hippest hotel.