SO Sofitel Bangkok’s stunning rooftop bar (Photo: Provided)
Bangkok is Asia’s undisputed LGBTI tourism hot spot. Thailand’s frenetic capital has got a bit of everything. Foodies can choose between streets upon streets of food stalls as well as world-class fine-dining restaurants. Shopaholics can peruse some of the world’s largest luxury shopping malls or pick their way through traditional markets.
Even the most fervent culture buff cold tire of the city’s spangly temples, pagodas, and palaces. Bangkok’s nightlife is world-famous. Bars offering all sorts of concoctions spill out onto the streets in Khao San and Silom. World-class DJs keep partygoers on the dancefloors into the small hours.
And SO Sofitel Bangkok is one of the best places from which to sample Bangkok’s smorgasbord of delights (hedonistic and otherwise). The hotel brings the exotic, colorful, at times even eccentric, charms of the city inside. The service lives up to Thailand’s fame as the land of smiles. It’s a must-visit hotel for the LGBTI traveler embarking on an adventure to Southeast Asia’s greatest metropolis.
SO Sofitel Bangkok is in the central, pumping district of Silom. It’s just across the road from Lumpini Park (think New York’s Central Park but with five-foot monitor lizards). It’s among charming alleyways lined with Bangkok’s famous street food but also has luscious views and quick access to leafy jog or stroll. For those of you who like to burn your calories on the dance floor, the hotel is a ten-minute walk to the bars and clubs of Silom Soi 4 — Bangkok’s undisputed gayborhood. Bangkok’s big tourist sites – such as the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Khao San Road – are about 20 minutes away by taxi or tuk tuk, providing the traffics not too bad.
While SO Sofitel is not an exclusively LGBTI hotel, it caters perfectly to the community. The decor is vibrant, at times whimsical, with bespoke art pieces. The staff are kitted out in colorful uniforms (and very friendly). The hotel regularly hosts LGBTI events, including legendary pool parties. A staff member I spoke to estimated that, on average, 70 per cent of the guests are LGBTI. During Thailand’s Songkran, which features wall-to-wall LGBTI parties in nearby Silom, this goes up to 90 per cent.
SO Sofitel is almost four hotels in one. The hotel has four designs of room, each with its own atrium. Designs are inspired by the four elements: earth, metal, wood, and water. Gay Star News can personally vouch for metal rooms being well appointed. The clean white lines of the furniture contrast beautifully with the floor-to-ceiling views of the luscious park. These are best enjoyed from the luxuriously large bathtub. The wood-themed rooms may appeal to those in search of a Japanese vibe. Earth takes inspiration from the cave homes in northern Thailand and are particularly whimsical with decorated archways and dark tiles. Water is inspired by Bangkok’s famous canals and are characterized by dark mysterious tiles evoking the waterways’ ripples. For those of you looking to splash out, the two-floor duplex is simply stunning. a huge living area has a gigantic hot tub which could fit at least 20 people. A staff member told Gay Star News that a Songkran after party of 400 people was once held in the room.
French fashion designer Christian Lacroix designed the hotel. He collaborated with local designers for each of the elements. From top to bottom guests take a design journey from Bangkok past to Bangkok future. The ground floor lobby evokes ancient palaces with large stone walls covered in ancient Thai script. Mythical Thai beasts hang from chandeliers and huge three-story imperial doors open to the street for extra special guests. Upstairs in the main lobby is a celebration of Bangkok present — with local design such as rattan work — blended with a fantastically French feel. Head to the 26th floor for Bangkok future with a simply stunning view of leafy park view. The futuristic skyline beyond is complimented with chic metal and glass tableware of the sky bar. It’s the perfect place for a sundowner.
Sofitel boasts no less than six eateries and a lounge for club guests. On the ground floor, Chocolab brings the best of a Parisian chocolatier into downtown Bangkok. The scents of chocolate and patisseries is arresting as you enter the hotel. Mixo bar in the park lobby is the perfect place for a chilled out drink before heading out. It’s so relaxed that guests are encouraged to get behind the bar and mix themselves a beverage. On the roof, Hi-So is the place for sunset cocktails while Park Society offers fine dining with a stunning bird’s eye view of Bangkok. The hotel’s Red Oven restaurant is the hotel’s fifth element, fire. The vast eatery evokes the frenetic markets and street vendors of Bangkok. There’s a host of different food stations offering international cuisine and different-themed places to sit that you’ll want to eat there more than once.
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