BACKGROUND Open since 2010, Kempinski’s first property in Thailand is next to the Royal Sra Pathum Palace, though it has been designed so none of the rooms overlook it.
WHAT'S IT LIKE? The hotel is modern but feels Thai, partly because staff wear a contemporary version of Thai uniforms, but also because the hotel is dotted with hundreds of local paintings, sculptures, photographs, prints, installations and antiques. The idea is for the hotel to be an “urban resort”, helped by all of the rooms looking into the central garden with its trees, swimming pools and water features. The lotus flower motif is everywhere, from the pattern punched into wall sconces to the names of the function rooms. The lobby is almost colonial, with 14-metre-tall pillars, a high ceiling and a balcony, where a saxophonist was playing a mournful tune when I arrived in the afternoon.
WHERE IS IT? In the centre of town, where the old Intercontinental (demolished in 2000) used to be. It is next to the Siam Paragon shopping centre and within a short walk not only of the BTS Skytrain at the Siam Interchange station and the Airport Rail Link, but many other four- and five-star hotels.
ROOM FACILITIES As well as 98 serviced residences, the hotel has 303 rooms split across a baffling array of categories. There are two wings – the Garden, which has eight storeys, and the Royal, which has 17. The 80 Deluxe king or twin rooms are in the Royal wing on floors two to eight, and look into the hotel’s garden from either the windows or the optional balcony. Executive rooms (56 of these) are on floors nine to 16 and have access to the executive lounge (as do all suites) on level 17, which offers a free buffet breakfast, afternoon tea, alcoholic drinks and, in the evenings, tapas.
In the Garden wing, the 115 Premier rooms are on average slightly larger (45 sqm-60 sqm) and are on the first to sixth floors. The 52 smoking rooms are on the fifth floor of the Garden wing and the fifth and 11th of the Royal. In both the Royal and Garden wings are Executive suites (16 of these) measuring 70 sqm-86 sqm. There are several other types of suites, including Deluxe, Terrace, Presidential and Royal. The hotel has ten Cabana rooms and 11 Duplex suites with direct access to the garden and swimming pools.
I stayed just before the recent floods and the hotel was extremely busy so I was given one of the residences. It was similar to a Deluxe room but with a small kitchen. It had a dark wooden floor, cream decor and a separate bath and shower area with a window and blind separating it from the bedroom. The hotel prides itself on welcoming small dogs, but unfortunately the one next door to me barked a lot, both day and night. Luckily, I had earplugs.
The lighting system was confusing, and though it was possible to turn off all the lights, I never discovered how to dim them or just have a reading light on. The bed was very comfortable, however, and when the dog stopped barking, it was lovely and quiet. All rooms have free wifi, 42-inch LED TVs with the ability to connect to laptops and multimedia devices, and tea- and coffee-making facilities, with loose-leaf teas.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS Lots of choices here. The T lounge offers 67 types of tea (as this was the 67th Kempinski hotel to open), including rare ones such as blue oolong. The 1897 bar has an outdoor area and a fine selection of cigars. There are also three restaurants – the poolside Rotunda, the Brasserie Europa, where breakfast is served, and Sra Bua, which offers modern Thai cuisine. This is an extremely attractive space with lots of wood, atmospheric lighting and lily pads floating in pools of water, and I had a delicious meal.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES The hotel has four banqueting rooms that can be split into nine separate spaces – the largest venue, the 900 sqm pillar-free Chadra ballroom, can accommodate 660 people for a banquet or 1,200 for a reception. There is also a boardroom that seats 18 delegates, and a business centre on the second floor of the Garden wing, open 7am-9pm. The executive lounge has small spaces that can be used for meetings.
LEISURE FACILITIES There is a fitness centre with Technogym equipment on the eighth floor of the Garden wing, and a spa on the seventh floor.
VERDICT A fabulous, good-looking hotel with an exceptional Thai restaurant. The lighting system is annoying and I think the hotel is wrong to welcome dogs, but it is a luxurious haven in the heart of town, where you can escape the bad traffic noise.
- HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 303 in total – the Garden wing has Premier and Cabana rooms, and Duplex, Executive, Garden and Terrace suites, while the Royal wing has Deluxe and Executive rooms, and Executive, Deluxe, Presidential and Royal suites.
- ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The generous size and attractive décor.
- PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in March started from 6,084 baht (£125) for a Deluxe room.
- CONTACT Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok, 991/9 Rama 1 Road; tel +66 2162 9000; kempinski.com