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From afar, SO Sofitel Bangkok gets slightly lost in the shuffle, surrounded by the fellow tall, sleek and modern buildings that also populate Bangkok’s teeming skyline. But SO Sofitel Bangkok, located in the Thai capital’s Central Business District, isn’t meant to be admired from a distance. The lifestyle hotel dazzles under closer study, which I realized upon check-in.
Four unique hotels around the world belong to the SO Sofitel brand, owned by French hotel group AccorHotels, and all are intended to be playfully avant-garde while evoking both French elegance and the specific property’s locale. And SO Sofitel Bangkok hits the nail on the head: It pulses with electrifying energy — no doubt alluding to the city’s sultry, sleepless nightlife — and shows off a sophisticated interpretation of French-Thai design.
My first impression of this took place in the hotel’s eye-catching ninth-floor lobby, where lofty windows look out toward a sprawling metropolis. However, guests can find relief from Bangkok’s hustle and bustle directly across the street from SO Sofitel Bangkok at the lush, 142-acre Lumpini Park. According to the front desk, the public park hosts an assortment of characters each day, from locals practicing tai chi during dew-filled mornings to business types jogging or joining a fitness class after work. SO Sofitel Bangkok equips hotel guests with free bicycle rentals to ride in the park, though clients should note that bike riding is only permitted in the park between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Like my welcome drink — a refreshing butterfly pea flower tea that transformed from blue to green after I gave it a good stir with a lemongrass stick — SO Sofitel Bangkok conjures up a sense of magic. Five elements — water, earth, wood, metal and fire — are incorporated into the design of the property’s 238 guestrooms and most of the public spaces. Each theme is the work of a top Thailand design firm in collaboration with award-winning Thai architect Smith Obayawat and renowned French designer Christian Lacroix.
When booking, the element that a guest stays in depends on the selected accommodation category and availability. Eight categories are offered, ranging from an approximately 409-square-foot “SO Cozy” room to a roughly 2,508-square-foot “SO VIP” two-bedroom duplex suite. According to Chanrutt Thayartsuwan, assistant marketing communications manager for SO Sofitel Bangkok, the water element rooms — which features dark marble walls and an especially glamorous design — are the most popular thanks to their position on the highest floors (25 to 28).
I experienced the hotel’s wood element, which, Thayartsuwan told me, is the most authentically Thai in terms of design. The combination of muted tones and a minimal aesthetic with thoughtful technology and luxurious products made my SO Cozy guestroom a tranquil haven after a long day of exploring Bangkok. Each morning, I reveled in my skyline view while sipping coffee made using the provided mini French press. And at night, I took to unwinding in the oversize bathtub, which is separate from a spacious walk-in shower. Wi-Fi access is free, and the in-room minibar offers complimentary nonalcoholic refreshments and snacks.
Much of the hotel overlooks the 142-acre Lumpini Park. // © 2017 SO Sofitel Bangkok
SO Sofitel Bangkok’s avant-garde design is the work of top Thailand designers, Thai architect Smith Obayawat and French designer Christian Lacroix. // © 2017 SO Sofitel Bangkok
The 238 guestrooms and most of the public spaces are divided into five elements, or different design themes, such as metal (pictured here). // © 2017 SO Sofitel Bangkok
The wood element room theme is said to be the most authentically Thai in terms of design. // © 2017 SO Sofitel Bangkok
Rooms with the earth element theme feature Thai wall paintings against a brilliant-blue wall. // © 2017 SO Sofitel Bangkok
Open all day, Red Oven restaurant offers a wide range of cuisine, served buffet-style. // © 2017 SO Sofitel Bangkok
An infinity pool is located on the 10th floor and offers a panoramic vista of Lumpini Park and Bangkok’s skyline. // © 2017 SO Sofitel Bangkok
On the 11th floor, SoSPA’s design is inspired by Thai mythology. // © 2017 SO Sofitel Bangkok
After a meal at fine-dining restaurant Park Society, mingle with Bangkok’s elite set at the adjoining Park Society Terrace or Hi-So Rooftop Bar. // © 2017 SO Sofitel Bangkok
As for drinks of the stronger sort and more substantial bites, SO Sofitel Bangkok has six food-and-beverage concepts to satiate all forms of indulgent cravings. One example is the buffet-style Red Oven restaurant (bedecked in decor representing the element of fire), which is open all day and has everything from a Japanese sushi and “robatayaki” counter (where meat, seafood and vegetables are cooked over a charcoal grill) to a raw seafood bar and a colorful parade of ice cream and sorbet flavors. But try to skip dessert at Red Oven in favor of sweet treats at Chocolab, a cafe and shop that also holds chocolate-making classes twice daily and a “Cocoa Rush Hour” — for a voracious hour and a half, chocolate fiends can pay about $21 to eat to their heart’s content.
If guests are hoping to schmooze with Bangkok’s haut-monde crowd, they should mosey on over to Park Society, the property’s fine-dining restaurant that offers nouvelle cuisine; Park Society Terrace, its adjoining bar; or Hi-So Rooftop Bar, which features semi-private cabanas. Besides jaw-dropping panoramas and potent cocktails, this is where the city’s high society — hence the name “Hi-So” — is often found mingling well into the night.
And when that inevitable hangover hits the next day, guests have a few options for recovery. They can seek hydration via the spectacular 10th-floor infinity pool overlooking Lumpini Park; sweat out the night’s toxins at the SoFIT fitness center; or let any aches melt away by way of herbal and oil massages at SoSPA, which is designed to emulate Thai mythology’s serene Himmapan Forest.
But when the sun goes down once more, don’t be surprised to feel the temptation to surrender to Bangkok’s high-energy nightlife all over again — you won’t be only the one.