I arrived in Bangkok ready to leave Africa behind for now and move on to my favorite part of the world, Southeast Asia. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my time in Africa, but I was due for a good meal and a night not spent sleeping under mosquito netting. My first long-haul flight on Kenya Airways was quite pleasant. Their business class seat design is one of the most effective in the Skyteam fleet for getting a decent night’s sleep, it actually goes almost completely flat (versus that sometimes annoying barely discernible slant that can leave you sliding down in the seat all night).
Unfortunately, I soon learned that arriving in Bangkok from Kenya (where I connected after Zanzibar) is a bit more complicated than arriving from Europe or the Middle East as I normally do. I waited my turn in the now familiar immigration line only to ultimately be turned back by the officer and told I must first visit the Health Inspection office. Well, that was a first. I had no idea where that was and for some reason no one else in the airport seemed to know either.
Finally, after a lot of confusion, I found someone who knew where the office was in the airport. It turns out, the Nairobi-based flight number and other African countries I had to list on my arrival card (I really hate it when they ask the “list all countries you have visited in the past xx days” question) had flagged me as being in high risk areas prior to my arrival. Luckily, all I really had to do was show my yellow fever immunization card and the office stamped my arrival card and I was headed back to the immigration line. Sadly, the whole process took almost an hour. So when I finally emerged from customs I was happy to see the driver from my favorite hotel in Bangkok, the Royal Orchid Sheraton, cheerfully awaiting me in the arrivals lobby.
The Bangkok Routine
In no time we were darting through Bangkok traffic in a sleek BMW and bound for the comforts of the Sheraton’s perfect riverside location. Since I’ve stayed at the hotel so many times on past trips, I was welcomed back warmly and even greeted by two members of the marketing team. They’d upgraded me to a lovely riverfront suite and I wasted no time changing clothes and heading straight for the hustle and bustle of Khao San Road. I had a few errands to run and, as usual, that was just the place to get things done.
After 8 trips to Bangkok, I’ve developed kind of a routine. I usually have paperbacks I’ve finished during the first half of the trip that I like to take back to my favorite used bookstore and swap out for new ones, I desperately needed a massage and I was seriously craving some street-cart pad thai – all of which can be easily accomplished at any number of places along Khao San Road for less than $10 US combined.
After wrapping up my errands and massage (electing to pace myself, I just got one this time), I whiled away the remainder of my afternoon soaking up the energy of Khao San and leisurely making my way back to the hotel down the river for tea in the Towers Lounge.
The next day I had every intention of heading over to the Chatuchak weekend market, something I always try to do when in the city on a weekend, but I couldn’t seem to drag myself out of bed. I’d been feeling a little questionable since my last meal in Zanzibar so I decided to take a day of rest at the hotel before my transfer over to the new W Bangkok later that day. I had some work to wrap up anyway and it’s not like there’s much I haven’t seen in Bangkok. Plus it was the first time I’d had a strong internet connection in a month!
Later that day, it was time to move on to the one thing I hadn’t seen in Bangkok yet.
W Bangkok Arrives…
I know what you’re probably thinking, I’ve been to Bangkok so many times (the only spot, in fact, that I’ve visited on all 8 RTW trips) and photographed it to death…there can’t possibly be anything new to say about Bangkok. But you’re wrong! There’s something fabulously new about Bangkok and it just opened in December…the stunning new W Hotel Bangkok.
Many of you are already aware of my fondness for Starwood Hotels in general and W Hotels in particular. Last year I visited W Hong Kong, W Retreat Koh Samui and the decadent W Retreat & Spa Maldives. As I’ve visited each new W Hotels property over the past few years, my love for them just continues to grow. And when I heard that two new much-anticipated Asia properties had opened recently (Bangkok and W Singapore Sentosa Cove) I just had to work them both into my trip.
And since Bangkok is the veritable poster child for the W Hotels motto of “Whatever/Whenever” it was only fitting that W Hotels should open its 44th property in this most dazzling of Asian cities.
When I arrived at the flashy new W Bangkok, I was completely wowed by the design of the lobby and my room. One of the things W always does exceptionally well is incorporate the local culture into the hotel’s design. I was curious to see how they would accomplish this with Bangkok.
But it wasn’t long before I had my answer. The lobby walls seemed to glow with sparkling murals utilizing the glass tiles typically found in Thai temples and palaces. But my favorite feature was the floor to ceiling light installation occupying a wall near the elevator bank – it was made entirely of flashing tuk-tuk taillights! A truly inspired design that gets right to the heart of the energy of the city.
The creative designers even managed to work images of Bangkok’s ubiquitous stray dogs into the modern design of the ballroom lobby. You’ll have to check out the photo gallery to see how they did that but, I must say, it was inspired.
My room was modern, stylish and extremely comfortable (as per W usual). My favorite features in the room were the giant gold-sequined Muay Thai boxing-gloves-as-throw-pillows on the bed and the sleek ipad-like tablet that controlled every element in the room from lighting to temperature.
During my brief stay I endeavored to sample everything W Bangkok had to offer so after checking in I headed down for a cocktail at their signature Woobar. That night, I sampled the delicious east-meets-west cuisine at the Kitchen Table restaurant and then in the morning I enjoyed the enormous breakfast spread at Kitchen Table.
After breakfast, I toured the hotel more completely with Apple, my marketing contact who I had the pleasure of meeting at W Koh Samui last year and is now at W Bangkok. She pointed out more of the unique design features I had missed in my earlier exploration. It truly is a stunning property and a great addition to the W family. A huge thank you to the talent at W Bangkok for a great stay and I look forward to many future visits!
Now, I’m on to Singapore to check out W’s other new hotel, the W Singapore Sentosa Cove!
Click Below to View the Bangkok Photo Gallery
Disclosure: Accommodation and meals provided by W Bangkok.