Sometimes getting older, sort of wiser and more moneyed has its rewards when you graduate to stay in places like Bangkok’s iconic Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, A Luxury Collection Hotel. Text: Katie Truman
On the first of many trips to Thailand, I arrived at Bangkok in 1988 with my backpack, jumped on a public bus to Khao San Road and checked-in to a “questionable” budget guesthouse. Fast-forward two and a half decades later and it’s not just Bangkok that’s changed: we’ve both gone decidedly upmarket. On this latest visit, a limo transfer service whisks me from the airport to the heart of Bangkok’s business and entertainment enclave and Sukhumvit Road, where I’m greeted by the grandiose Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit (SHB) and a royal-like garland of fragrant jasmine flowers.
Opening in 1996, with all the new hotels, malls and giant video screens that sprung-up along tourist drag Sukhumvit, and resembling a futuristic “Blade Runner” setting, this striking 33-storey hotel has stood tall, literally, and exclusively refined throughout the years. Not only a five-star Sheraton, this is a Starwood’s Luxury Collection Hotel (Bangkok’s only one), a distinctive ensemble of worldwide hotels offering unique, authentic expressions of their special location and its indigenous heritage and charms.
Welcoming with opulent interiors – starting with the elegant, open lobby with Thai stone carvings and sculptural water features – exceptional service and outstanding facilities, Sheraton Grand Sukhumvit (SGS) ranks as one of my favourite luxury Asian business hotels (Smart Travel Asia’s “Top 25 Best Business Hotels in Asia”), but also holds appeal for discerning leisure travelers.
SGS exudes ultra-modern exteriors, but all 420 rooms seamlessly merge contemporary luxurious elegance with exquisite Thai culture and aesthetics – individually designed in rich teak wood, superior marble and lustrous silk. Starting at 45sqm, these are some of Bangkok’s most spacious rooms and overlook either downtown, or neighbourhood Lake Rachada.
Distinctive accommodation options, providing 24/7 personal butler service, include three sublime “Thai Theme” Suites; vintage carved furniture and craftwork and teak floors and more paying homage to indigenous elements, along with private outdoor patio with tropical orchid gardens. Among three lavish “Specialty Suites,” the magnificent Royal Suite offers 248sqm of unprecedented levels of luxury and sumptuousness.
Like many grand dames, SGS is undergoing a face-lift; rather, an ongoing (and unobtrusive) remodeling guestroom project finishing 2014, and is continually keeping abreast of modern technological advancement, including high-speed Internet connections throughout.
Generally, you don’t tend to first-choice hotel restaurants, especially in capital Bangkok, where you’re almost guaranteed divine Thai food anywhere you go. SGS however offers distinguished stand-alone F+B destinations, which you’d be half-baked not to sample. Award-winning Basil serves traditional Thai recipes infused with modern flair, in an unusually sophisticated contemporary setting. Organic ingredients and basil herbs influence the exquisite cuisine (even the cocktails), curated by Executive Chef Kesinee, who also hosts hands-on Thai cooking classes in her restaurant kitchens.
There is also authentic contemporary Italian cuisine inspired by Michelin Star Guest Chef, Turin’s Alfredo Russo, served within a classic Tuscan villa setting, with impeccable fine-dining and a “Stellar wines at cellar prices” concept: no wonder renowned Rossini’s was lauded, “One of Thailand’s Best Restaurants” by Thailand Tatler Magazine.
Bangkok’s premier live jazz venue, The Living Room, presents a buzzy lounge-bar where world-class international jazz artists perform nightly. Also hosted here, overflowing out to Rossini’s and Basil (all on Level One), Bangkok’s biggest buffet, Sunday Jazzy Brunch, hitting all the right notes with epicurean-standard cuisine, free-flow drinks and swinging live jazz.
Long established Grand Spa rates as one of Bangkok’s finest hotel spas, like an intimate retreat of carved Buddhist statues and dark timbered floors with therapies showcasing Thailand’s timeless healing arts. Save time however for the guest-hit, idyllic outdoor pool area, designed like an old Bangkok klong (canal), with the narrow, deep-blue pool camouflaged by coconut palms, luscious greenery and orchids, dotted with ancient stone deities. Chill-out on a hand-crafted teak sun-lounger, or floor cushions at The Sala restaurant, beautifully replicating an old wooden Siam-style canal house. In this secluded oasis it’s hard to believe you’re in downtown Bangkok.
For Bangkok’s sights and entertainment, SGS provides an essential convenient location; the street-elevated lobby linking directly to a pedestrian Sky Bridge and BTS Asok SkyTrain Station, MRT Sukhumvit Subway, recently opened Terminal 21 Shopping Mall and more. But wonderful to return back to a luxurious sanctuary, elevated up above all the city action.
Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, A Luxury Collection Hotel, 250 Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok
Tel: +66 (0) 2649 8888