The first Kimpton hotel in South-east Asia, opened in Bangkok on October 6, does a great job of showcasing a boutique brand little known in our part of the world.
The hotel is located in Langsuan, a leafy, tree-lined soi close to prime districts such as Sukhumvit and Chidlom, and to Bangkok’s most famous park, Lumpini. Its elite neighbourhood ensures a good mix of trendy cafes, bars and restaurants at the hotel’s doorstep.
If you’re fit, it’s a good walk to Chidlom or Rajdamri BTS stations. Otherwise, use the hotel shuttle to either Chidlom and Silom station, although this would start when international tourism or business levels pick up.
I didn’t want to go anywhere when I saw my ultra-spacious and sleek room. It dawned on me this was what I needed: to be enveloped in wide-open space that is serene and spotless. In our current crisis, this is ever more inviting.
I couldn’t believe how bold the hotel was to put just a sofa and a king bed in an elongated bedroom of a unit that is 84m2 in size. Yet, the room didn’t appear cold, which minimalist rooms often do. This is thanks to the contemporary Thai textures, tasteful furniture and furnishings, great lighting and a soothing colour palette of whites, greys and browns.
From the 24th floor, an endless view of Bangkok’s central district skyline and the sprawling gardens of the US Embassy only expanded the openness, which I soaked in with gratitude.
The other thing to soak in was the by-the-window bathtub in the super-sized bathroom. I also loved the luxurious amenities such as bathrobes designed by Christian Develter.
Room sizes and categories at the hotel start from a 48m2 Deluxe Room to a 320m2 Celebrity Suite. My 84sqm Grand Premium was enough! One idea I thought was smart is a small workspace area with a round table that seats two, rather than the usual by-the-wall workspace. This allows a couple to work together, have a game of backgammon or dine in if they wish.
I was surprised to see how bustling the cafe in the lobby, CRAFT, was on a late Monday morning and considering the hotel just opened. The reason, I soon realised, were exceptional brews at affordable prices. I had an espresso that included medium roasted beans from southern and northern Thailand, in cooperation with the Royal Thai project, for 90 baht (US$2.90). Alternative bean selections from Indonesia and Vietnam could also be had.
I would return just for the pistachio croissant.
Surrounding the hotel are lush gardens, with people enjoying a coffee or a drink outdoors throughout the day. I was struck by how the hotel brings nature into it, or itself out into nature. Inside, there is a lot of art that depicts nature, such as a “waterfall” installation and a check-in counter carved from wood with a wall-to-wall backdrop of art depicting a huge white flower.
There was a lot of energy, playfulness and style, be it by the hotel or its guests. A lady walked past me with two furry, beautiful cats, each looking a million-dollar in a transparent, round cat-stroller. That’s the kind of unexpected head-turners you would see at this hotel, which is so pet-friendly it has separate floors for cats and dogs.
I checked out the rooftop bar and barbecue restaurant, Bar.Yard, for a possible pre- or after-dinner drink, but it was being set up for a private function. For dinner, I went to Ms. Jigger, an elegant Italian restaurant draped in a curtain with its own sophisticated bar that serves Ms. Jigger’s favourite cocktails. So who’s Ms. Jigger? She’s a personality created by the hotel – again, this hotel is full of fun and surprises.
Ms. Jigger also likes great Italian – the food was divine. No wonder the restaurant was nearly full.
The hotel has another restaurant, Stock.Room, which will serve among others Thai street eats on-site or take home. But this had not opened on my stay on October 19.
There’s so much to do that I wished I had stayed more than a night. I wanted to fit in a yoga lesson, a work-out class at the gorgeous gym on the 41st floor, swim in the pool nearby which overlooks a green park, and go to the Amaranth Spa by HARNN.
The spa won. It was another of the hotel’s beautiful spaces, and the aromatherapy massage was excellent.
Service began at the top, with general manager Patrick Both welcoming me warmly on arrival. The staff were enthusiastic and relaxed but watchful to meet needs.
So what did this stay tell me about brand Kimpton?
First, it’s not just a boutique hotel brand but a trendy restaurant operator. Second, it is about modern luxury – full of vigour, is sociable, creative and fun.
The brand was founded in 1981 by William (Bill) Kimpton and was in 2011 the largest boutique hotel group in the US. InterContinental Hotels Group bought the chain for US$430 million in 2014. Asia is now a key expansion area, with two Kimptons in operation in Taipei and Tokyo, and future openings in Hong Kong, Sanya, Shanghai, Bali and Kuala Lumpur.
Kimpton Maa-lai Bangkok translates the key aspects of the brand flawlessly. What grand entrance in South-east Asia.
Number of rooms 362 (131 of which are serviced residences)
Rate 8,830 baht nett (US$283; the opening offer for Grand Premium Room at time of stay)
Tel: 66 2 056 9999