Selecting that special hotel for wherever I’m traveling is always a challenge. Being a discriminating solo traveler who has stayed in many of the best hotels in the world, I have become highly discerning with what appeals to me. Five star hotels can be either memorable or just another cold, uninteresting, typical luxury experience.
On my 50-day around the world solo trip I stayed in a variety of highly rated hotel types. The historic Hotel Avenida Palace in Lisbon, the exotic Dar Awaryan Riad Mansion in Marrakesh, the exquisite Apricot Hotel in Hanoi and Cairo’s best hotel, the Four Seasons, were a few of my lodging selections on this trip. All of them were top notch and had something that made them special but the most pleasant hotel surprise was the lifestyle design So Sofitel Hotel in Bangkok.
Originally, I thought I wanted to stay somewhere along the Chao Phraya River, the central waterway through Bangkok that is in close proximity to where most of the significant sites are located. After a considerable amount of research, I decided to change my mind and book the So Sofitel, located next to Lumpini Park in the financial/diplomatic area of the city. The hotel is a fifteen minute cab drive from the river. I found tons of great online reviews, and the highly affordable $165/night rate and the interesting design concept peaked my interest with So Sofitel. The deciding factor was the involvement of one of my all time favorite French fashion designers, Christian Lacroix, in the hotel’s aesthetic conceptualization.
The French hotel conglomerate, Accor, describes the So Sofitel’s lodging concept as a, “playful mix of sophisticated French elegance and the dynamic style of each locale,” that is highly creative and fashion led. “Each avant-garde masterpiece is imaginatively inspired by an iconic signature designer.” Bangkok was chosen to be the first city to have a So Sofitel hotel and has been given many awards since opening in 2012. This trendy hotel concept was quite appealing from it’s online marketing but the proof was in the pudding!
From the minute I was greeted by the designer clad doorman and escorted to the ninth floor for check in I could feel the elegant, modern vibe of this one of a kind hotel. Instead of the routine check in procedure at a reception desk, I was seated and greeted by a hostess who prepared the hotel’s unique and refreshing welcome drink, a Thai libation of Butterfly Pea tea that was blended with lemongrass water and lime juice which dramatically turned the liquid from a green to a purple color when stirred. The hostess recited a Thai story that alluded to the transformative drink and the magical experience that was to come with my stay here, a beautiful and memorable way to start my So Sofitel experience.
Next, my assigned hotel attendant took my passport and credit card to complete the check in process. She said she would be there for me to make my stay a pleasurable one and if I needed anything just give her a call and she would see to it that my request was honored, yet another impressive, individualized service feature. Likewise, she explained the four different room concepts and chose the wood type for me, which she surmised from our brief encounter would suit my personality.
Here is a little background about the So Sofitel’s five elements design concept. The hotel was created around a Feng Shui philosophy using the five elements of nature as its basis: water, earth, wood, metal and fire. Water rooms are sophisticated and calming, earth rooms exude wonder and enrichment, wood rooms are characterized as being elegant and tranquil, and metal rooms possess the qualities of purity and modernity.
Guests are given rooms that are in tune with their personal Oriental nature quality. At the time I forgot my Chinese astrological type was a metal tiger so I just went with her recommendation. Later I found out you can take a quiz on the hotel’s website to determine which room suited you best. I took the test when I got home and, lo and behold, a metal room is what I should have stayed in even though I was highly pleased with her wood selection.
When we entered the warm, contemporary wood room she explained all of its unique features which included the highly modern Apple Mac Mini Media Solution technology that powered the lights, television and curtain movements, the mini bar stocked with healthy snacks, drinks plus a variety of wines and alcohol specialty drinks, the gourmet Illy espresso coffee machine and the wonderful French complimentary bath toiletries. She said the bed was a Sofitel signature “My Bed” with a pillow menu to ensure I had a restful sleep.
Once she left I just sat on the couch and admired the intelligence behind the room design and admired the refined, delicate flower arrangement on the sofa table. My initial thought was the French really know how to combine style, elegance, and comfort into interior design. I was totally impressed.
Later that night after attending a Night in Siam Show, I wanted to have a glass of wine before I went to bed so I decided to go up to the rooftop bar. I was blown away the minute I stepped outside. The nighttime view of the city was spectacular. A DJ was spinning wonderful, upbeat music selections. Also, there were many secluded seating areas for solo guests and my wine choice was just perfect. I was in heaven. The whole scene made me feel very alive. I lingered there enjoying my wine, relaxing to the music knowing I was so lucky to be experiencing this fabulous hotel.
I slept in the next morning enjoying the tonic-like “My Bed” and decided to skip breakfast for an early lunch. The Red Oven, the hotel’s main dining venue, was a cornucopia of food, different seating areas and compelling smells. It was overall an extremely pleasurable place to dine solo. I requested an outside table so I could savor the daytime skyline of Bangkok.
For my food selections I could either order from the interesting menu or partake in the “over the top” buffet that featured nine live cooking stations, a Japanese robatayaki bar, a seafood bar and a vast assortment of desserts and cheeses. Not being overly hungry, I decided to order a dish of giant prawns, stir fried rice noodles wrapped in an egg basket envelope and a glass of fresh watermelon juice. My lunch was beyond good, scrumptious and not overly filling. Throughout my entire stay at the So Sofitel every meal was of this caliber.
On my fourth day in Bangkok after several days of non-stop touring and shopping in the city’s grueling heat and humidity, I decided I needed something extra to relax and rejuvenate. The hotel’s Water Club sports a stunning, heated infinity pool overlooking the Bangkok skyline, a fully equipped gym, a bar serving drinks and small plates, a beauty salon with French products and the beautifully appointed So Spa.
I opted for a Thai massage to rejuvenate my tired traveler’s body. For an hour I was skillfully kneaded, pulled, pounded and rubbed with the “coup de grâce” being when the masseuse massaged my back with her knees for ten minutes, something I had never experienced. Not a single knot remained in my body. I can’t say that I have ever had a better massage anywhere else in the world than what I received in the So Spa that day. I’ll never forget it!
Another highlight of the hotel is that the top floor houses the ultra sophisticated Park Society Restaurant and Bar, which includes an elegant futuristic interior design, a chef’s table, a cosmopolitan menu, a stellar wine list and dramatic, outside cabana seating. I never enjoyed a meal here but I did peek in and my impression was that it's posh.
On the ground floor is the Chocolab Cafe, which features a chocolate laboratory where you can watch confectionaries make delectable treats daily or partake in chocolate cooking classes. Monday thru Friday from 4:00-5:30 and Saturday and Sunday from 3:00-5:30 is an all you can eat time where you can indulge.
Every outstanding hotel provides great service and this was more than true at the So Sofitel in Bangkok. Besides my personal assigned assistant, the concierge was tremendously helpful in booking me into some unique excursions such as a tour to the floating market, an ethnic dinner cruise down the Chao Phraya River, a Bangkok flower tour and a spectacular Night in Siam evening extravaganza where I rode an elephant, toured a recreated Thai village, watched artisans make ethic Thai crafts and enjoyed a delicious evening meal.
In addition, every morning I had the same delightful food server who was beautifully dressed in a Christian Lacroix designed uniform bring me my coffee without even placing an order just like I wanted it, strong and very hot with real cream and organic sugar. Accor Hotels pride themselves in anticipating their client’s needs and this was surely the case at the So Sofitel in Bangkok.
Christian Lacroix’s Asian inspired “Neo Arbe de Vie,” the Tree of Life, symbol which is the defining graphic designed especially for the So Sofitel Bangkok is visible throughout the building and even in elements of the staff’s uniforms. This reinterpreted ancient symbol of life dramatically illustrates the spirit of this most unique hotel. Lacroix’s colorful graphic is filled with indigenous flowers found in Thailand such as orchids, lotus, red coral, peonies and roses with mythological animals dispersed throughout. The importance of humanity’s connection to nature to enhance one’s life is rooted in the concept of this special design lifestyle hotel.
Energy, tranquility, sophistication and glitz at an affordable price are what you will experience when you stay at the So Sofitel in Bangkok. The next time you travel to Bangkok consider staying at this fascinating hotel and experience the French philosophy, life is magnifique!
Enjoy the trendy video below which showcases the five elements design concept of this iconic hotel.