It Has To Be SO
Standing elegantly at one of Bangkok’s busiest intersections, SO/ Bangkok has always been the go-to-hotel for those seeking a fun and relaxing environment. From business executives to well-healed socialites, those in the know would have secured not only their room reservation but also their floor of choice. You see, SO/ Bangkok is a one of a kind hotel with guest rooms, suites and public spaces created around the five Chinese elements of Water, Earth, Wood and Metal – Fire is reserved for public areas and restaurants so as to not cause panic!
Walk-in guests enter the hotel from two ground floor entrances; one section of the Street Lobby is designed to remind guests of old Siam with images, ancient writings and motifs of bygone days while the other reveals a modern and futuristic Bangkok with lots of steel, glass and the ubiquitous tuk-tuk. Also in the Street Lobby, guests get their first sight of the designer uniforms worn by staff which were designed by French fashion icon Christian Lacroix.
Filling out the space, are a trendy café, an antique shop and the famous Chocolab, where guests and visitors can indulge in all kinds of chocolate creations. And if that wasn’t enough, Chocolab also runs chocolate cooking courses where you can create your own chocolate fantasy. It’s almost too good to be true, like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but without the Oompa-Loompas!
The Park Lobby (where check-in takes place) is located on the 9th floor and is reminiscent of a Japanese ski lodge with hardwood floors, wood paneling and wood and metal seating. The lobby area also doubles as part of MIXO lounge, the all-day cocktail bar where guests can imbibe in their favourite drink while gazing out of the enormous floor to ceiling windows that perfectly frame downtown Bangkok’s largest green space Lumpini Park and the beautifully decorated Chinese clock tower, built in the 1920s by Italian designer Mario Tamagno. Off in the distance is the city’s burgeoning collection of skyscrapers.
As I mentioned earlier, SO/ Bangkok sets itself apart from other luxury boutique hotels in the city thanks to its unique urban design and themed accommodation. A stroke of masterful collaboration between renowned Thai architect Smith Obayawat, five of Thailand’s leading interior designers and a cameo appearance by French fashion designer Christian Lacroix, the hotel has won numerous awards for its outstanding creativity.
Described by many as Smith Obayawa’s masterpiece, the hotel’s outer façade presents two distinct designs; a solid bulky base extends upwards to support curved frontages with paneled windows that face outwards to Rama IV and Sathorn roads. Internally, the Chinese elements take over with the Fire Element assigned to the public spaces and dining areas on the 7th floor; Metal inspired guest rooms are located on floors 13-16; Wood Element rooms are located on floors 17-20; Earth Element accommodation is on floors 21-24; while Water Element rooms and suites are located on upper floors 25-28.
From the top down, the Water Element represents sophistication and calm and was created by Pongthep Sagulku of August Design, a veteran firm known for its sleek, timeless designs. Water Element rooms feature an onyx bathtub next to the window and marble walls with a dark and mysterious tone that dims and stills the room to absorb the striking view of Bangkok from floor to ceiling windows.
Meanwhile, the Earth Element characterises wonder and enrichment as viewed by Vitoon Kunalungkarn of IAW Design. The guest rooms are grounded in simplicity and decorated with Thai primeval wall paintings set against a ravishing blue that makes the rooms come alive, especially when night falls and lights illuminate the striking features.
The Wood Element symbolises elegance and tranquility and is the brainchild of Nithi Sthapitanonda, the award-winning founder of 49 Group. Wood Element rooms invite guests to discover a fresh appreciation of wood creations. Here wood and light interact to create space as art – the signature adornment being a hand sketched old Siamese mural – while the overall effect is a sense of calmness in contrast to the bustling city outside.
Finally, Metal Element guest rooms embody purity and modernity and were created by Somchai Jongsaeng of Deca Atelier. Metal Element rooms offer simple, tranquil yet immaculate spaces that are bright and welcoming through their different shades of white and sleek metallic details. Across all floors, views and rooms are categorised as follows: SO Cozy, SO Comfy, SO Club, SO Studio, SO Suite Spa, SO Suite, SO Lofty and SO VIP Duplex Suite.
Completing the Five Chinese Elements, the Fire Element courtesy of Rujiraporn Wanglee of PIA Interior, a veteran designer with more than 25 years’ experience brings to the fore indulgence and flair. The Fire Element installed in public areas and restaurants creates dynamic spaces for social interaction and provides a sense of warmth, energy and playfulness.
After parking our car and making our way to the Street Lobby for a temperature check, we took an elevator to the Park Lobby where helpful staff took care of us. As we were staying in a suite, we were escorted to the Club Signature Lounge on the 25th floor for check-in. The lounge is any wannabe fashion designer’s fantasy fulfilled thanks to the inspiration of world-renowned designer Christian Lacroix, whose signature adorns part of one wall. Bright, colourful and artistic from top to bottom, the all-day lounge serves breakfast until 11am and then provides snacks and an assortment of drinks until early evening when complimentary cocktails are served.
Fortuitously, we were assigned a Water Element suite, which happens to be our particular element, with the added plus that our room overlooked part of the gorgeous Lumpini Park. The suite’s living area includes an over-sized double sofa with snug pillows, a glass coffee table and a comfortable armchair all facing the large flat screen television. Dark floors and walls are juxtaposed with brightly coloured rugs, light fittings and creative shelving.
A sliding door separates the living room from the bedroom and walk-in closet, which sports a make-up desk and mirror. As a corner suite, our large bedroom gave us unspoiled views of the busy Sathorn and Rama IV junction and Lumpini Park. An unbelievably comfy king bed took pride of place while a work desk, standalone television and small sofa and table completed the picture. Off to one side of the bedroom, behind a giant sliding door, is the stunning bathroom with twin hand basins, his and her amenities, a walk-in rain shower and an enormous bathtub with a full-length window to watch the world go by.
With all the paperwork completed and our suitcase unpacked, we headed off to explore the hotel’s two floors of wellness, fitness, pleasure and comfort. Our first stop was the 10th floor infinity pool, which provides unobstructed views of the City of Angels. SO/ Bangkok pool parties were world famous until Covid-19 came to town and I’m sure once the pandemic has been overcome, guests will once again descend on this immaculate pool for more intimate parties. For the time being though, we had the entire area to ourselves. After a few laps of the pool and many more photographs, we hopped out and visited the nearby Water Club for a refreshing cold drink.
The 10th floor is also home to SO/ FIT, a fully-equipped fitness centre where everything has been engineered to maximise guests’ wellbeing, from iconic design to high-tech equipment with personal trainer. A small corridor leads from one side of the building to the other, where you find Solarium, a gorgeous garden terrace with comfortable seating and a sun trap for those who love to keep a tan.
While I decided to bronze myself a little under the scorching sun, my wife headed off for her appointment at SO/ SPA on the 11th floor. A luxurious centre of well-being themed as a mythological forest that invites discovery and exploration, the spa offers a wide-ranging selection of the best and most effective health & beauty treatments inspired from time proven world traditions combined with forefront and refined French cosmetology for an outstandingly deep rejuvenation.
If you’re looking for something a little more indulgent, SO Suite Spa, located on the same level, provides the ultimate in privacy with suite accommodation featuring a master bedroom, spacious living room and en-suite spa treatment facility. However, be warned, the spa is exceptionally popular with guests and visitors to advanced bookings are highly recommended.
A few hours by the pool while my other half was being pampered was just what the doctor ordered. To boost our energy levels we had a wonderful all-you-can-eat Japanese lunch at SOSHI, once part of Red Oven but now a thriving stand-alone restaurant in its own right.
To make the most of the coming sunset we took the elevator to the rooftop where the famed HI-SO bar awaited. Exiting the enclosed restaurant, we found ourselves in a wide-open expanse that captures the City of Angels in all its glory. Comfy chairs and tables are dotted around the cavernous space while the resident DJ plays non-stop music adjacent to the fully stocked bar. HI-SO caters to a wide range of customers from enamoured couples seeking the perfect Insta-photo to parents treating their teenage kids to a mocktail of their choosing. However, the serious set who have made HI-SO their second home descend on the rooftop bar after 9pm and then the party really begins.
As Bangkok residents, we have our own parts of the city where we like to hang out, do a bit of shopping, grab a bite to eat and enjoy a drink. However, if you feel you must tear yourself away from the comfort of SO/ Bangkok, then you don’t need to travel that far to find something cool to do and see. With both mass transit systems close by – MRT subway is a five-minute walk, while BTS Skytrain is a brisk 10-minute walk – guests certainly have Bangkok at their disposal.
Bangkokians are simply spoiled when it comes to shopping malls with EmQuartier, Emporium, Gaysorn, Terminal 21, Central World, Central Embassy and Siam Paragon all just a few stops away on either Skytrain or subway. A Skytrain ride and a complimentary boat trip will also take you to ICON Siam, one of the city’s newest and all-encompassing shopping malls on the banks of the Chao Phraya River.
The city is also home to numerous tourist sites including Jim Thompson House, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, Siam Society Museum, Erawan Shrine, Neilson Hays Library, Bangkok Folk Museum, Asiatique and the famous Indian Sri Maha Mariamman Temple amongst others. Bangkok has been attracting international visitors for close to two hundreds years and I’m absolutely sure that the city will continue to be a magnet for inquisitive travellers for at least another century.
If you want to stay in a hotel that offers you a different perspective each time you visit, then SO/ Bangkok should be your number one choice. With 237 non-smoking guest rooms and suites ranging in size from 38-sqm to 138-sqm with choice of skyscraper city views or the green forest expanse of Lumpini Park, you’re always in for a surprise at SO/ Bangkok.
For more information and reservations, call +66 (0) 2624-0000.
Source: Punch Media Digital.