...what do you get after 7 nights??
Well, here's the low down.
We stayed at The Asadang, a charming boutique hotel with only 9 rooms. The sister property of nearby The Buthorn (which only has 3 rooms!) Both are lovely restored buildings in the heart of old Bangkok, owned and renovated by a local couple who are both architects. Each room is different, full of antique and vintage pieces and the overall feeling is more like staying with friends than at a sterile, characterless large chain hotel. Situated in a great area for sight-seeing - the Royal Palace and many Wats and Temples are within walking distance. This was the view from the balcony off our bathroom...you can see the top of the Ratchabopit Temple which is literally next door, and neighbourhood homes line the canal or klong.
Overall I would give the hotel the thumbs up, do keep in mind though that if you plan to do a bit of shopping this place is not particularly close to Sukumvit or Chatuchak and was sometimes difficult getting taxis to venture over to this side of town. It always worked out eventually, and I think despite this I would stay here again.
Did someone say shopping?? Obviously the Sukhumvit area is great, and there are many huge malls in this area, depending on what you're looking for. I would say in terms of home furnishings by far the best are Siam Paragon (Barbara Barry concept store, Armani Casa, Ralph Lauren, other huge American brands not available in Hong Kong, plus an amazing variety of very high quality locally produced goods), Decor Promenade (Christian Liaigre store, Baker, Visual Comfort lighting and Promemoria, plus local designers) and the Emporium (the Emporium department store range was fantastic, and Jaspal Home which has lovely bed and bath linens - also in Siam Paragon). As for clothing, if you want something other than all the typical big luxury brands that can be bought anywhere I'd say Gaysorn Plaza would be best with lots of stores by local fashion designers at reasonable prices. BUT, if its a bargain you want, or you love the thrill of the hunt, then definitely Chatuchak market is a must see. This was my first time there this trip, and I have to say it is absolutely the best market I've ever been to. And apparently the largest in the world. Many markets in Asia repeat the same products and you've pretty much seen it all after a few rows, but Chatuchak is full of great stuff, unique things from clothing to home stuff. You'd need a full day to even think about seeing it all.
In terms of food, well Bangkok is as much an gourmet paradise as it is a shoppers paradise. I'm not sure even where to start. Perhaps chronologically...
Our first night we enjoyed a lovely dinner at Nahm, run by Aussie expat chef David Thompson. The food is modern Thai and is fresh and tasty. We then had a G&T or two at Face afterwards. There are also two restaurants on the same premises as the bar, and the setting is lovely...I've made a mental note that I'd like to come for dinner next time.
Other restaurants we enjoyed were Bo Lan - run by an Aussie/Thai couple (I swear we didn't just eat at restaurants run by Aussie chefs!)...the food is also modern Thai and was fantastic. I can also highly recommend Le Vendome, which as the name suggests is French cuisine. A charmingly decorated space, good service, reasonably priced (compared to HK that is) and great food. My only gripe would be a slightly insufficient wine list considering the price and type of food. Otherwise I highly recommend it.
For lunch, my favorite has to be Cafe Claire. Recently opened (in fact the GM told me there soft open was just the day before, and I was one of their first customers), the food was fantastic, and the service impeccable. Set within the new Oriental Residences (condos for sale or serviced apartments for slightly longer stays) which has been decorated with Barbara Barry furniture in a very light and airy manner. Here are a few of the sneaky pics I took...
I have to say I also highly enjoyed eating at the new Dean & Deluca within the new MahaNakhon complex. I discovered D&D when I lived in Tokyo and have been a big fan ever since. Why oh why are there 2 in Bangkok and none in Hong Kong? Anyway, I also managed a sneaky tour of the David Collins designed show flats within the complex, which are of course drop dead beautiful. I wish I could move right in.
And you can't really talk about food in Bangkok without mentioning Greyhound. These guys recently opened their first cafe outside of Thailand in the IFC mall right here in Hong Kong. Well designed spaces, great menus, and locations all over the city. Good for lunch or dinner, really.That's all folks. I should be back in BKK in a month to follow up on some meetings I had there, and then hopefully not too long after that I'll be able to fill you in on some exciting news...so stay tuned!