BACKGROUND Sofitel So Bangkok – the offshoot line of the established French brand that features a strong accent on design and the latest technology – opened in February 2011, following the debut of the first “So” property in Mauritius, Sofitel So Belle Ombre. Its arrival may have swelled an already fat inventory of similarly cutting-edge players scattered around the city, particularly along Sukhumvit Road and the increasingly popular Thonglor neighbourhood, but Accor, which manages Sofitel, believes the right toys and attitude will attract highly mobile and demanding customers. Mumbai and Singapore are next on the list for Sofitel So.
WHERE IS IT? It kitty-corners two perennially busy thoroughfares, Sathorn and Rama IV, and has entrances on both. The Bangkok Skytrain station (BTS) and subway by the Dusit Thani Hotel on Silom, and the BTS on Lumpini, are fairly close but impractical to walk to with Bangkok’s cloying climate. It’s better to grab a cab, and anyway, fares are very affordable. The green sprawl of Lumpini Park is right across from the hotel on the Rama IV side and offers a great excuse to go for an early morning jog.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? The hotel’s theme of Five Elements (Water, Earth, Wood and Metal in the guestrooms and Fire in the main restaurant, conceptualised by leading Thai architects) paired with a French and Thai twist is not obvious until you walk around the building, study the details and sculptural pieces and installations on each floor, and take in the general ambience. It does pay to take time to enjoy the unique experiences offered by this latest Accor product. If you plan to come back several times, make it a point to try out a guestroom exuding an element you were not exposed to previously; each is an entirely different proposition.
The eye-catching uniforms – or should we say staff fashion wear – are hard to resist staring at, with their colourful Tree of Life motif designed by haute couture master Christian Lacroix, who also embellished the club lounge on the top floor.
ROOM FACILITIES Much investment has also been made by Sofitel So Bangkok in acquiring the latest technology. All 238 guestrooms carry Apple Mac minis, connected to the 40-inch LCD TV with a wireless keyboard and trackpad. I didn’t have much time to play with the system except to send out some emails, but it worked perfectly. The Mac minis are designed to wipe clean all foreign data every time they shut down, which put my mind at ease. Other tech functions include being able to order room service, view your bill, access digital TV and radio and connect to personal iPods, iPads and iPhones.
RESTAURANTS & BARS At the hotel’s all-day dining hub, Red Oven, the Molteni stove – the “Ferrari of ovens” – takes pride of place and around it are the various live cooking stations dishing up a range of items from traditional Thai street fare to international favourites for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The best tables are by the floor-to-ceiling windows, so be sure and bag one the minute you arrive. Park Society on the 29th floor adapts a Chef’s table concept which allows diners to tailor their dishes exactly the way they like them from a wide range of fresh seasonal ingredients. I highly recommend the shrimp ravioli with crayfish and lobster foam, which instantly melts in one’s mouth. One level up from the restaurant is Hi-So, whose blend of private cabanas and the view of Bangkok’s twinkling lights create a rarefied setting. Items from Park Society can be ordered here and brought to you by private butlers. Networking over your favourite drinks or in-house cocktails is possible at Mixo on the ninth floor and Solarium near the pool, which offer good sunset views. On the ground floor, Chocolab is a sweet boutique as well as a chocolate cooking classroom.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES Grand affairs can take place in the ballroom, boasting 380 sqm of pillarless space and high-tech hardware, while smaller discussions and workshops are catered for in meeting rooms within the “Social Club” area, which also features a section for live cooking and creative food setups. More funky presentations or cool cocktail events can play out in The Box, a daring venue suspended in midair with three glass walls overlooking the city.
LEISURE FACILITIES There are two levels of recreational facilities: the open-air infinity pool is on the 10th floor and has a park view, and So Spa and Spa Suites are on the 11th floor.
Margie T Logarta
My two-night stay was not enough for me to fully enjoy the various experiences offered by this hotel, especially in the art and design department. I want to go back and hope to do so very soon.
HOW MANY ROOMS 230
ROOM HIGHLIGHTS In a Wood Element Room, the warm teak floor (which inspired me to go barefoot the minute I stepped in) and floor-to-ceiling windows revealing the green canopy of Lumpini Park.
PRICE Internet rates for a fully flexible stay in mid-September start from US$196 for a SO COSY room (choice of design theme subject to availability).
CONTACT 2 North Sathorn Road, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500, tel +66 2624 0000, www.sofitel.com/gb/hotel-6835-sofitel-so-bangkok/index