My apologies for another long review, but the Sukhothai is one of my favorite hotels, and I want to put my comments into context. The hotel opened in the mid-90s, and I had my first stay soon after. Back then, the established luxury piles on the river attracted most of the hospitality accolades, and the Sukhothai seemed a world apart. Instead of "colonial" tropical decor or contemporary Thai kitsch, the Sukhothai's subtle references to classical Thai architectural themes made it a forerunner of the design hotel boom. Although well-located near the heart of the Silom/Sathorn business and entertainment district, the hotel's distinctive courtyard design and ample green space make it feel like an urban oasis. The hotel is not part of a large international chain, and does not cater to conventions and tour groups. In its first years, the Sukhothai was embraced by people in the creative fields, gays, independent businesspeople, and other "early adapters".
Like many places that inspire a cult following, the Sukhothai has probably been eliciting mutterings of "it's not what it used to be" since the second week it was open. Long gone are the days when you were automatically upgraded to a suite every fifth stay, or the Sunday jazz brunch was affordable enough to attract the Silom nightlife crowd recovering from the previous night's festivities. As word got out about the Sukhothai's distinctive style, hushed charm, and attentive service, the hotel started to attract corporate types, families, and even some of the tourists who used to prefer the riverfront icons. Instead of an under-the-radar haunt, the Sukhothai is now firmly established as one of Bangkok's most appealing places to stay.
The hotel still earns high marks on all the basics: The design offers an excellent sense of place, and is immediately calming. Most rooms overlook a lush inner courtyard of tropical plantings and fish ponds. The rooms themselves are a bit on the small side, but beautifully designed in dark tropical woods and Thai fabrics. The public areas are dignified and sumptuous, with the grand dining room at the Colonnade hosting a truly excellent breakfast buffet. The in-house Thai and Italian restaurants are also good, and the bar has an appealing outdoor seating area. In addition, there's a gym, a large outdoor pool, and an in-house spa.
While familiar faces on the staff have slowly changed over the years, the hotel offers smooth, reliable service. Because the hotel has set such a high standard in the past, however, minor shortcomings can be especially noticeable. On my last stay, during the busy holiday period, the staff sometimes seemed overwhelmed and out of sorts. Room service trays languished in the hall for hours, and I was surprised to find cobwebs in the bathroom. The lobby entrance can also be a bit chaotic, as in contrast to years past there doesn't seem to be anyone in charge of sorting out taxi and car-service requests. That said, the concierge team has always been top-notch, and the staff in the lobby and the Colonnade are fantastic. Even if you're not staying at the hotel, if you have a sweet tooth, make a reservation for the chocolate buffet on weekend afternoons. The pastry chef, who's been at the hotel for years, really cares about what he's doing, and it shows.
The best hotels combine all the expected comforts and services with an indelible reflection of their location. For me, the Sukhothai embodies Bangkok. Even if it doesn't always quite reach its potential, the Sukhothai still manages to inspire an almost fanatical devotion among loyal guests who want the ideal base for exploring one of the world's great cities.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- COLONNADE, all-day dining restaurant features live cooking stations, Carving Trolley and a wide selection of Western and Asian favorites. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Sukhothai Bangkok Hotel Bangkok
- Sukhothai Hotel Bangkok
- Bangkok Sukhothai Hotel