Once a soulless sea of glass and steel, this well-located corner of central Bangkok now offers culture, fine dining and classy drinking spots
Stretching from Lumpini Park south to the Chao Phraya River, Sathorn has long been regarded as one of Bangkok’s most prestigious addresses. Many embassies are headquartered here, while luxury hotels such as the Metropolitan, Sukhothai and Banyan Tree all set an exalted standard for accommodation in the city. Yet, in spite of this, the area has traditionally been regarded as more of a place for business than pleasure. In recent times this has changed with a number of exciting new venues upping the lifestyle ante along with several landmark residential projects.
1–W Hotel Bangkok
This glitzy W Hotel Bangkok upped the ante last year by unveiling The House on Sathorn in the former Russian Embassy. No expense was spared to restore the 127-year-old heritage building to its former glory. The colonial mansion’s original facade remains intact, but the interior sports tasteful Art Deco details and a few clever additions. The Bar, a slick craft cocktail den, quickly established itself as one of the city’s hottest watering holes, while The Dining Room serves as a showcase for chef Fatih Tutak’s creative cuisine. Though the chef’s Turkish roots are clearly visible in certain dishes, others clearly draw inspiration from his extensive travels in China, Japan, India and Thailand. A standout is “Hunting The Duck,” a whimsical creation in which a pomegranate reduction signifies blood and charred onions stand in for gunpowder.
When the owners of Le Café des Stagiaires, a popular bar with a laid-back, youthful vibe, announced that they had plans to turn the top two floors of their refurbished shophouse into a chic bistro, the neighbourhood started to buzz. The resulting eatery, Chicon, more than lives up to the high expectations, with inventive updates on classic French cuisine. A champion of local produce, chef Aurel Termini eschews imported ingredients in favour of regionally-sourced ones whenever possible. Dishes such as pan-fried mussels with lychee, white wine and dill oil, or pig’s trotters slow-cooked for six hours show that the effort was worthwhile. Despite the contemporary twists, this is soulful, deeply satisfying food that transports diners from Asia to the south of France.
3–Sathorn 11 Art Space
Bangkok’s burgeoning arts scene got a boost with the arrival of the two-story Sathorn 11 Art Space gallery last September. The main showroom, with its thoughtfully curated collections, is only half of what sets this social enterprise apart. Co-owners Marc Green and Chaiyaporn “Mike” Boonmahanark envisioned the project as a means of revitalising Sathorn’s creative side and fostering local talent. Four atelier studios above the gallery are given to Thai artists who might not otherwise be able to cover the costs of a space in such a high-rent neighbourhood. In addition, the gallery hosts monthly events to encourage the community to engage with its residents and their work on a deeper level.
Launched in 2009 by Allan Donnelly, a Scottish engineer who found his true calling in life as a shoemaker, Don’s Footwear is one of the only places in Bangkok that offers bespoke footwear for men. Prices can be steep and production can take several weeks, but the ergonomically sound results are more than worth the initial investment. Each pair is handcrafted using materials such as natural leather and calfskin liners. There’s a selection of more than 100 styles, ranging from elevator shoes, which discreetly add extra height, to classic Cuban heels.
5–Issara Collection Sathorn
Though it will not officially open until 2017, anyone aspiring to snap up one of the Issara Collection Sathorn’s coveted 33 condos will have to act quickly when they become available in November 2016. In contrast to other sky-high developments, these spacious accommodations are situated in a serene seven-story low-rise. Nods to traditional Thai design are sprinkled throughout the building, which puts an emphasis on privacy and seclusion. Best of all, the rooftop garden offers residents a welcome respite from the surrounding urban sprawl.
One of the most striking additions to the Bangkok skyline in recent years, the MahaNakhon Tower is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2016. Designed by German architect Ole Scheeren of OMA, the 77-story obelisk sports a futuristic aesthetic and is destined to become one of the city’s most coveted addresses. The adjacent MahaNakhon CUBE already houses Vogue Lounge, a tribute to high-fashion decked out in Warhol prints and glossy, black-and-white magazine covers, and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, an outpost of the Michelin-starred chef’s global empire. Upon completion, Bangkok’s tallest skyscraper will house The Ritz-Carlton Residences. These 200 two-and five-bedroom private homes sport lavish furnishings and features including private terraces and glass-encased skyboxes with clear views to the Chao Phraya River.