Japanese style meets Thai hospitality at the Okura Prestige in the heart of Bangkok
Even when viewed from the street, the Okura Prestige hotel does its best to welcome visitors to Bangkok. The building is shaped in a representation of the wai, the traditional Thai greeting where palms are pressed together, creating a slight curvature in the skyscraper’s spine. The structure is topped off with another nod to Thai culture, with the tips of the structure mimicking lotus petals.
This design reflects an emphasis on melding world-renowned Thai hospitality with Japanese style, held in equally high esteem, by the Tokyo-based luxury hotel chain. While the contemporary design of the interiors – all marbled stone and dark woods – may not immediately bring to mind Japanese culture, it quickly becomes apparent within the guest rooms. Each of the 240 suites is furnished in cool tones throughout and includes small touches associated with Japan, such as green tea, yukata pyjamas and – of course – an elaborate digitised toilet.
Technology has been incorporated throughout the rooms, with amenities controlled from a central digital panel and internet television on offer, making it a business-friendly choice. And little wonder that the Okura is conscious of corporate needs – its location on Wireless Road in Phloen Chit places it in the middle of the CBD, with a wealth of shopping and dining options likewise on its doorstep.
But it’s the expansive views, stretching out in nearly every direction, that are the real standout. Each room provides a vista of the Thai capital’s skyline rising from the city’s streets, while a 25m-long infinity pool juts out from the building’s side to provide an aqueous position from which to ponder the bustling commerce below.
Each of the hotel’s three restaurants makes astute use of their outlook on the urban landscape. Floor-to-ceiling windows run through the lobby to Up & Above, with its upscale café fare available all day, while its adjoining Up & Above Bar, popular for its seasonally themed Japanese afternoon tea sets, offers a choice of plush, elegant seating inside or outside on the half-moon terrace. Both other dining options – the award-winning Elements and Yamazato restaurants – also seamlessly integrate the outdoors while serving up, respectively, French and Japanese cuisine.
Accessible from the Okura Prestige via an overpass is Central Embassy, one of the most luxurious malls in Bangkok. Built on the site of the former British Embassy – hence the name – the six-floor mall is home to high-end labels such as Prada, Gucci and Chanel while also hosting brands from Alexander Lamont to Zara. There are dining options aplenty: the basement is occupied by the upscale Eathai food court, while restaurants including the Water Library and Somboon Seafood can be found on level five.
Baa Ga Din
Offering a restaurant take on Thai street food staples, Baa Ga Din has won plenty of fans by serving up roadside specialties in a setting far removed from traffic gridlock and exhaust fumes. From banana flower salad to grilled satay chicken, modern reworkings of all the usual favourites are on the menu here. Created by Thitid Tassanakajorn, the chef behind the fine-dining eatery Le Duc, Baa Ga Din is generating ludicrous levels of buzz on the foodie scene.
Teens of Thailand
While its name may conjure some rather seedy connotations, Teens of Thailand is in fact an achingly cool gin bar – the first in the country. Situated in an 80-year-old shophouse that hadn’t been used for three decades before its renovation, this drinking establishment is serious about its gins, with at least 30 available and even house G&Ts containing two shots each. While easy enough to find, on the fringes of Chinatown, with just 16 seats you may have to wait for a table at which to nurse your beverage.
Tel: +66 2687 9000. Address: Park Ventures Ecoplex, 57 Wireless Road, Bangkok 10330, Thailand. Website: okurabangkok.com. Rooms: 240 rooms, ranging from the 43- to 47-square-metre Deluxe Rooms to the 302-square-metre Imperial Suite with its 180-degree views of Bangkok, full kitchen and private steam room. Recommended accommodation: the 80-square-metre Deluxe Suite features dual aspect floor-to-ceiling windows and a separate bedroom and living/dining areas.