Bangkok has over 300 hotels in the central area so it can be extremely difficult to decide on where to stay in this sprawling city. A recent trip introduced me to the Ratchaprasong Square Trade Association which I discovered has eight major central city hotels as members.
The location is the most central in Bangkok so all the major shopping centres, some of the major tourist attractions, and many restaurants and night-time venues are walkable or within easy reach by the BTS Skytrain system. It seems a logical choice for everyone.
While the member hotels are all four or five-star properties, rates are attractive compared with many other cities and low transport costs help further. It is possible to walk between all of the hotels so it is possible to stay in one but dine and use other facilities in some of the others. Here is a quick run-down of what I found.
St Regis Bangkok
This is one of the newest five-star resorts. With 176 stunning large rooms and 51 suites, this is a great hotel. I stayed here for three nights and it was very clear to me that the hotel is very serious in providing what it calls the ‘art of living experience’ with an exclusive spa, well-appointed exercise room, outdoor swimming pool and contemporary poolside cafe. There is 24-hour butler service to every room which includes free pressing of two items per day amongst a host of services.
The hotel has a large lounge and the Jojo Restaurant on the ground floor then reception, another lounge and the all-day VIU Restaurant are on floor 12. Rooms are above here so all provide good views, many over the Royal Bangkok Sports Club’s green fields. The Jojo Restaurant offers Italian cuisine, Decanter has a gentlemen’s club ambience and a vast wine cellar, while the Drawing Room has a traditional Afternoon Tea.
The Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel
The 354 rooms and suites at this five-star hotel are delightful and I have considered this a favourite for nearly 30 years. There is a choice of award-winning restaurants and what is probably Bangkok’s best Sunday brunch. The spa, outdoor swimming pool and 24-hour health club are all superb while the cooking school is a must for culinary enthusiasts.
Everyone seems to have a favourite restaurant here. Mine is Spice Market which is designed to resemble a charming old Thai spice shop and has fine Thai cuisine to match. I’m sure others like Madison, a contemporary steakhouse; Shintaro, a lovely Japanese restaurant; or Biscotti with its Italian offerings. Several other outlets offer casual and light bites.
Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok
This is just metres away and it is another fine five-star property with 380 guest rooms. It is directly linked to a Skytrain station so going further afield is easy. There is plenty to keep you here, however. One is its stunning new i.sawan Residential Spa & Club which has six residential spa cottages, nine treatment bungalows, hair salon, nail bar, health and fitness studios, and a free-form swimming pool.
Erawan shopping mall is attached to the hotel so there is wide choice and this contains the lovely Erawan Tea Room which is my choice for afternoon tea and Thai cuisine. Tables Grill offers meat and seafood dishes, The Dining Room has all-day buffet dining while Spasso is an Italian restaurant and late night entertainment hot spot.
The Renaissance Bangkok Ratchaprasong Hotel
This has 333 guestrooms and suites and the mandatory spa, swimming pool and 24-hour fitness centre all within 160 metres of Chidlom Skytrain Station and 200 metres from Erawan Shrine. Guests can relax with a soothing massage at Quan Spa or in the steam rooms. The hotel also offers free fitness lessons at its gym, and an indoor pool.
All-day dining with international dishes is available in the stylish environment of Flavours Restaurant. Fei Ya offers fine Chinese dishes while La Tavola Restaurant has a wine bar. The R Bar transforms during the day from Italian coffee and Danish muffins in the morning to tapas and fine wines as you groove to the latest beats with the resident DJ in the evening.
The Intercontinental Bangkok
Another 5-star hotel is just across the road. It has 381 luxury guest rooms, including Club InterContinental rooms and a range of suites. The hotel has an ambience of understated luxury and this extends to the rooftop swimming pool, the many restaurants and bars, and to the Spa Intercontinental where I recently experienced a relaxing treatment to die for.
Restaurant choices include the Fireplace Grill which serves prime steaks and fresh seafood; the Grossi Trattoria with Italian and Australian influences; Espresso which serves dishes from around the world; and Summer Palace with Cantonese cuisine and daily Dim Sum lunch.
Centara Grand at Centralworld
The largest of the hotels in this area soars almost 200 metres into the sky with 505 5-star rooms over 55 floors. The rooms have state-of-the-art equipment and the nine World Executive Club floors offer even more. Facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre with aerobic studio, sauna, tennis courts and Spa Cenvaree. There is a steak restaurant, an al fresco bistro and bar, Ginger which serves Japanese and Chinese cuisine, and a 24-hour world dining restaurant.
Centara Grand is part of Centralworld, Bangkok’s first totally integrated hotel, convention venue and mega shopping centre. With over 500 stores, 100 restaurants, 15 cinemas and much more in the complex it really is a one-stop destination. You may never leave the complex.
The Holiday Inn Bangkok
This slightly less luxurious 4-star property with 379 rooms in two towers provides an attractive alternative. You can have the same location benefits at a cheaper price. The hotel has a fitness centre, a pool, sauna, children’s playground, and three dining options. The hotel has a ballroom which can seat up to 900 theatre style.
Hotel Novotel Bangkok Platinum Pratunam
This is a very modern 283 room 4-star family-friendly hotel in the heart of the fashion district, ideally located above Platinum Mall. The hotel has a restaurant and two bars but these are complemented by many others in the mall. There is an outdoor pool, fitness centre and Turkish bath.
Along the way he has started a newspaper, a travel magazine, a Visitor and TV guide and completed a PhD in tourism. His travels have taken him to more than 100 countries and his writings have collected a PATA award, an ASEAN award, an IgoUgo Hall of Fame award and other recognition.
He is the author of the Experience Guide ebook series which currently includes Experience Thailand, Experience Norway, Experience Northern Italy, Experience Myanmar, Experience Istanbul, Experience Singapore and Experience Ireland.