The Athenee Bangkok reopened recently after joining the Luxury Collection, a sub-brand of independent hotels under SPG. Previously, the hotel was known as Plaza Athenee, a Royal Le Meridien hotel that was also under SPG. The chain has a strong presence in Bangkok with two Luxury Collection hotels, the other one being Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit.
Luxury Collection hotels tend to have a unique story in order to qualify for the sub-brand. That was the case with The Andaman Langkawi where I stayed some months back and its strong focus on coral preservation. The Athenee Bangkok on the other hand, prides itself as the site of a princess’ palace. This royal heritage explains the look of the property. It’s akin to the late 19th century/early 20th century Thai interpretation of western sensibilities (other buildings carrying the same architecture can be seen in places like Phetchaburi or the old Parliament Building in downtown Bangkok).
The Athenee Bangkok is located in Wireless Road – the main entrance is by a small alley off the leafy main street. As such, the vibe is relatively quiet during weekdays and even more so on weekends when the neighboring offices are closed.
The property exudes an alluring air of grandeur, in a style that not many hotels in Bangkok possess today. While there has been a move towards ultramodern or futuristic designs, The Athenee Bangkok retains classical elegance – that to fit in with its royal past.
There are more than a dozen room types at the 374-room hotel ranging from the entry-level Athenee Room which measures 38 square meters to the Rattanakosin Suite which has a staggering 350 square meters of space. During my stay, I was billeted at one of the Athenee Club rooms, a 44 square meter space which is located from the 24th to 28th floors of the hotel. The same classical western design permeates the room. The decor is mostly understated, with touches of antiquity here and there such as with the bronze bell by the desk and the lantern-like lamps.
The room is spacious enough to have its own sleeper sofa as well as a working desk with two chairs. The king-sized bed was immaculately set when I first entered the room and I could not spot a single wrinkle. What was more astonishing perhaps was the housekeeping the next morning. I had left my room for breakfast early in the morning and by the time I returned to my room after my meal, I found the room already cleaned with the bedsheets set in the same spotless manner. I don’t know how housekeeping knew that I was away from the room but they did the cleaning just at the right time.
Bottled water is provided on a complimentary basis. The room also came with a coffee maker with the coffee coming from Illy – one of my favorite brands.
The bathroom is a spacious affair though it is rather unusual for a 5-star hotel these days to not have a separate enclosure for the toilet. Nonetheless, there are separate bath and shower areas. Various amenities are laid out neatly by the sink though in some rooms, these are kept in a nice, custom-made box.
Toiletries are from Thann – a brand which is similarly used by Marriott hotels though The Athenee Bangkok has plans to change this soon. I was also delighted to find the complete bath amenities already provided even without requesting, including the bath salts. I usually find this lacking even in other luxury hotels.
My stay also came with access to The Athenee Bangkok’s Royal Club Lounge. For everyone’s reference, here are the benefits:
- Continental breakfast at Royal Club Lounge from 6AM to 10;30AM
- Full breakfast at Rain Tree Cafe from 6AM to 10:30AM
- 2 complimentary items for washing or pressing service per day
- Evening cocktails from 18:00 to 20:00
- Tea, coffee and non-alcoholic beverages from 6AM to 22:00PM
- Afternoon tea from 15:00 to 17:00
- 2 hours usage of meeting rooms per guest room per day
- Unlimited city calls (except mobile phone)
- Premium high speed internet access and wifi
- Royal Club Lounge is open from 6AM to 22:00PM
I had my meals at the hotel’s restaurants so I didn’t really manage to use the lounge except to get some documents printed. I did drop by though during evening cocktails just to have a look. Aside from the standard canapes, I also spotted a few hot dishes so the offerings could probably stand as a light dinner option for guests who don’t want to head out.
Spa Athenee & Wellness
The Athenee Bangkok has a sprawling wellness area encompassing a swimming pool with a surrounding garden, fitness center and spa. The pool is open from 6AM to 10PM and is around 7.9 feet at its deepest. It overlooks the skyscrapers of Bangkok’s CBD and is especially scenic during sunset.
While staying at The Athenee Bangkok, I would recommend checking out the treatments at the Spa Athenee. For something different, try the Signature Blood Type Massage (THB 3,600 for 90 minutes). I’ve come across a number of spa concepts in my life but this was the first time I’ve encountered one based on blood type. Prior to the session, I was asked for my blood type. What followed was a combination of a Thai massage – the therapist did a wonderful job of relieving my backaches – as well as something that remind me of a hot stone massage. The difference is that the therapist also makes use of a certain herb mixture which is then pressed upon certain pressure points in the body.
Dining at The Athenee Bangkok
The Athenee Bangkok has no less than 8 dining options which makes it as much a foodie’s destination as it is a hotel. During my stay, I managed to try two – the Thai restaurant Smooth Curry and the French restaurant, The Reflexions. The other restaurants delve in Chinese or Japanese cuisine so there’s definitely something here for everyone.
The Thai restaurant – Smooth Curry – offers a fine introduction to Royal Thai cuisine. Some of the chefs here have had experience cooking for members of Thailand’s royal family so you can be assured the food is authentic. That being said, the preparation is also catered towards the taste of international guests. For instance, the food is deliberately made less spicy in some dishes while you’ll find European dishes interspersed with Thai ones. While they have plenty of curry dishes, I wanted to try something different so I ordered the Crispy Garoupa Fish. While I normally have Garoupa steamed, I really loved the crispy texture of the dish. I also slathered it wantonly with Thai sweet and sour sauce which added just the right kick to the fish.
The Reflexions on the other hand, is the type of place one would go to in order to impress. The cuisine is decidedly French with modern interiors. I came just in time for the ala carte Gasto Bistro Sunday brunch (starts at THB 2,000 per person). The food was topnotch – you get to choose from over 20 dishes in the menu ranging from starters to desserts and you can order as many as you like. The standouts for me were the succulent scallops for seafood as well as the lamb rack for the meats. In terms of the most memorable meal one can have at The Athenee Bangkok, I would have to say it’s at The Reflexions. The piano solo by noted pianist Jean Francois made it even more special.
Breakfast at The Rain Tree Cafe
Breakfast at The Rain Tree Cafe is quite a hearty affair. The morning buffet is actually spread over a large area giving the appearance of an endless variety of food. In reality, the spread is quite manageable and I would have to hand it to this hotel for having several cuisines presented including Thai, Western, Chinese, Indian and even Japanese – the latter which not many hotels offer for breakfast.
The range is also quite premium. For instance, a staff member actually makes fresh juice on the spot including smoothies while fresh coconut water is available right from the source. I even managed to order Thai Milk Tea which the staff readily served to me like clockwork.
As a Luxury Collection property, The Athenee Bangkok defies your usual chain hotel by being independent enough in terms of ambiance, decor as well as proposition while still providing the consistent service and complete facilities that one would expect from an established brand. While the royal inspiration may be perceived merely as “good-to-know” for some travelers looking for well-appointed lodgings, there is no denying the merits of staying here with the Skytrain and the large glittering malls of Sukhumvit being just a short walk away.