As you walk through this busy, cosmopolitan neighborhood, you’ll surely notice the new 60-storey Magnolias Ratchadamri Boulevard, with its eye-catching spiral form that towers and contrasts against the staunch architecture favored by its older neighbors. This new development is home to Waldorf Astoria Bangkok, the first property in Southeast Asia under the Hilton’s luxury brand.
The Ratchaprasong district is one of the most familiar locations for those who frequent Bangkok. It is a melting pot of culture and commerce, where the revered Erawan Shrine sits in close proximity to luxury properties like the Grand Hyatt and Anantara Siam Bangkok. Just a few steps from these landmarks are countless offices, shopping malls, restaurants, and BTS stations.
Bangkok is not lacking in luxury properties, with the world’s top luxury hotel brands wanting a stake in the country’s healthy influx of tourists. But what sets the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok apart is its restraint and elegance. Where the rest go for opulence and a statement-making presence, the Waldorf Astoria is confident in its quiet approach, which was brought to life by Hong Kong-based architect and designer, Mr. André Fu, who is best known for his celebrated projects, which include the Upper House in Hong Kong and The Fullerton Bay Hotel in Singapore.
Once you’ve finished taking in the building’s dramatic and fluid profile, enter through the Lower Lobby and serenity will immediately wash over you. Pristine Carrara marble surrounds the circular space, complemented by the 8-meter high ceiling, custom-made wall sconces, table lamps, and candle stands, which evoke a warm residential ambience.
“When people enter the hotel for the first time, I want them to feel like they’ve gone into a world they cannot define. In here is a world that’s juxtaposed, so they cannot quite navigate what the hotel really is,” admits Mr. Fu. Therefore, what the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok wants its guests to do is think. Yes, it is a luxury property heavily influenced by Thai culture, but not in the typical in-your-face manner where it’s all Thai silk, Buddha statues, and elephant motifs. What you get instead are gentle curves in unexpected corners reminiscent of the fingers on a Thai dancer’s nuanced hand gesture, room numbers patterned after Thai script, or the reflection of custom-made chandeliers in the windows of the restaurant Front Room, which calls to mind floating lanterns. “By doing this, it’s negotiating things that are historical in response to the brand, but also its response to the city and its heritage,” adds Mr. Fu.
The hotel has a total of 171 guest rooms and suites, which are broken up into various categories like Deluxe Rooms, Deluxe Suites, Astoria Suites, Waldorf Suites, and the Royal Suite. Despite the difference in categories, there is a common aesthetic thread that runs across these rooms in the form of bronze finishes, floor-to-ceiling windows, marble bathtubs, artistic yet comfortable bespoke furniture, and the generous use of solid timber. Technology comes into play through plentiful USB ports in various areas of the room, as well as a bedside master control panel that allows you to control lighting, curtains, and the TV.
Like most luxury properties, the facilities at the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok are impressive. There is a 24-hour fitness studio should you feel the need to burn off calories from a late night street food run. The Waldorf Astoria Spa is a haven for weary travelers with its sensuous and relaxing atmosphere, enriched by the smell of essential oils and subdued lighting. Meanwhile, the temperature-controlled outdoor swimming pool features a unique curved shape that wraps around the terrace, allowing for impressive views of Bangkok’s skyline.
Rounding up the enriching experience the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok offers are three unique F&B concepts located on level 55 to 57. Responsible for the design of each of the outlets is AvroKO, a world-renowned design and concept firm, which pulls out all the stops when it comes to the wow factor. Bull & Bear on level 55 specializes in grilled meats and seafood, underscored by art deco-inspired interiors that lend a classic Big Apple look and feel. On level 56 is The Loft, which is a glamorous bar steeped in the romance of art nouveau. Sip on artisanal spirits and forgotten cocktails here, which are inspired from the original 1935 Waldorf Astoria Bar Book. Finally, what is a visit to Bangkok without a rooftop bar experience? Find this at The Champagne Bar on level 57. Accessible only to the most discerning of guests, the exclusive bar boasts a fine list of champagnes, hand-crafted cocktails, and of course, an unbeatable view.
A stay at a property like Waldorf Astoria Bangkok is something that you won’t easily forget. But for Mr. Fu, the memory of small details or certain touch points about the hotel are equally important. “When guests look back on their stay, it will be wonderful if they also think of the details that made the experience memorable – whether it’s a certain texture, the sense of comfort they felt in their room, or the overall softness of the whole building.”