The ultimate hotel guide to Bangkok

With glittering temples, vibrant food markets and thrumming nightlife, Bangkok thrills at every turn. That goes for its hotels, too — the Thai capital has one of Asia’s most dynamic hotel scenes, from budget stays to elegant riverside resorts.

By Lee Cobaj
Published 16 Jan 2023, 09:00 GMT
Bangkok has one of Asia’s most dynamic hotel scenes.

Bangkok has one of Asia’s most dynamic hotel scenes.

Photograph by Getty Images

1.  Capella Bangkok 

Best for culture vultures
Cool, calm and contemporary, Capella Bangkok stepped confidently onto the edge of the Chao Phraya River mid-pandemic and became an instant hit. All of the 101 plush, gold-toned suites have balconies with day beds and river views, but this isn’t a place to just lounge around. Capella’s ‘Culturists’ take guests on walking tours around the Buddhist and Chinese villages along Charoenkrung Road by day, and lead street food and cocktail bar tours by night. If you’re keen on staying put, there’s a cabana-flanked marble swimming pool and a spa where you can try the martial art of Muay Thai. Upstairs, three-Michelin-starred Argentinian chef Mauro Colagreco has opened his first outpost in Asia. Rooms: From THB26,000 (£610). 

2. Avani+ Riverside

Best for sophisticates
Overlooking the Chao Phraya River opposite Asiatique night market, the Avani+ is away from the city centre, but only a 15-minute boat shuttle or taxi ride from the likes of Wat Pho temple and the Grand Palace. The location also lends the hotel spectacular, unobstructed views of the city. You can admire the panorama during the buffet breakfast or from your room, the 26th-floor infinity pool, or the adjacent rooftop lounge SEEN, which serves Brazilian-Portuguese food and cocktails. Rooms are more corporate than cool, but add value with luxury toiletries and free films.  
Rooms: From THB5,850 (£135).

SEEN restaurant at Avani + Riverside.

Photograph by Avani+ Riverside Bangkok Hotel

3. ASAI Bangkok Chinatown

Best for gourmets 
A few minutes’ walk from Wat Mangkon subway station, with the buzz of backpacker digs and a slick Scandi-Thai design, this new hotel is a boon for Bangkok’s hotel scene. Jam Jam Eatery and Bar, which spills out onto a Zen garden terrace, is as popular with locals as it is with guests. Come for breakfast dishes including mango acai bowls and bacon and coconut waffles, and later in the day clever Asian-fusion dishes such as butter chicken with croissant and cacao-braised pork belly. Check out the hotel’s event listings, too, which might include anything from drag queen stand-up comedy to art therapy session.  
Rooms: From THB1,200 (£28). 

4. Four Seasons Bangkok

Best for aesthetes
Created by lauded hotel designer Jean-Michel Gathy, this new riverside landmark delivers everything you’d expect from the Four Seasons brand. Guests are greeted by two stone elephants, a nod to the hotel’s exceptional art collection, which includes works from the city’s Museum of Contemporary Art. There’s a vast state-of-the-art spa (with its own swimming pool and Muay Thai ring), a collection of restaurants and the always packed BKK Social cocktail bar. Only a few of the silvery-blue rooms face the river and you’ll pay a hefty premium for the view.     
Rooms: From THB24,000 (£560).

A guestroom at Four Seasons Bangkok.

Photograph by KENSEET

5.  Sala Bang Pa-In

Best for peace seekers
This stylish boutique — on the outskirts of the country’s former capital Ayutthaya, about an hour from Bangkok by road — offers an intimate glimpse of rural Thailand. After checking in, guests are led across a bright-red moon bridge over the Chao Phraya River to a small island and the main part of the hotel. Here are 24 fresh rooms and villas, all with outside space and river views (a few also have private pools). There’s a waterfront restaurant serving international dishes and local favourites (think mango salads or prawn tom yum soup), as well as a small spa and a huge swimming pool. Borrow a complimentary kayak to get into the full flow of life on the river. 
Rooms: From THB6,470 (£150).

6. Siamotif

Best for homebirds
Swap mirrored skyscrapers for stilted teak houses and puttering long-tail boats at this family-run B&B set among the klongs (canals) of the Thonburi district. Each of the seven rooms are uniquely designed — some with hand-painted murals, others with a mezzanine floor or a roof terrace — but all have balconies where you can watch the city pass by like a film reel. Service is excellent and there are also free bikes to hire for exploring the neighbourhood’s museums, temples and markets. It feels a world away from modern Bangkok, even though you’re only 20 minutes’ drive from the heart of the city. Rooms: From THB2,800 (£65).

7. Kimpton Maa-Lai 

Best for people watchers
Located in the swish Luang Suan district, the Kimpton Maa Lai has become a magnet for the fashion set, whom you’ll find in the ground-floor coffee shop and gardens with their poodles under their arms (every Kimpton hotel is pet friendly). The interiors are crisp and modern and the rooms are simple, evoking a sense of place with walls of teak and textured stone, tapestries and handmade reed mats. The third-floor swimming pool, terrace and tiki bar is the place to see and be seen, with complimentary wine for guests from 5pm to 6pm every day, while the rooftop BarYard serves smart cocktails and dizzying city views. Rooms: From THB9,400 (£220), room only. 

The interiors of the Kimpton Maa-Lai are crisp and modern.

Photograph by Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok

8.  Prince Heritage Theatre Stay

Best for drama queens
Over its 110-year history, this art deco gem on Charoenkrung Road in Bang Rak has had more roles than Meryl Streep: bawdy Chinese opera house, flashy casino, family-friendly cinema (and a not-so-family-friendly adult cinema) and abandoned relic. Its current incarnation is as a beautifully restored boutique hotel, where the original stage remains as part of the brilliant lobby bar that’s popular with a local crowd. The Prince’s four vintage-style suites are a highlight and shared rooms are also available, including some catering to women travellers. Rooms: Shared four-person rooms from THB2,360 (£56), room only; suites from THB2,500 (£59), B&B. 

9. Kempinski Sindhorn

Best for yogis
The chi-chi Sindhorn Village complex offers a much calmer experience than the neighbouring the Kimpton Maa-Lai. The striking building has been designed with wellbeing in mind, diffusing light and drawing in the surrounding greenery. There’s an otherworldly quality to the cavernous lobby, with its curved and polished concrete walls, sweeps of glass and birdcage-like pavilion. The restaurants are excellent and the rooms are airy and inviting. But the spa steals the show with its cantilevered swimming pool, flotation room, colour-changing hydrobaths, Turkish hammam, yoga studio and aesthetics suites. Rooms: From TBH11,770 (£275).

Treatment room at Kempinski Sindhorn.

Photograph by Sven Ellsworth

10. Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok

Best for high-flyers
Built on the banks of the Chao Phraya River in 1876, this landmark has hosted some of the best-known figures of the 20th century. Suites are named in honour of its greatest literary guests, including Somerset Maugham, Joseph Conrad and John le Carré. It’s lost none of its cachet over the years, either: the lobby is still a glittering parade of well-heeled travellers, honeymooners, business tycoons and Thai royalty. Among its 10 restaurants are the two-Michelin-starred La Normandie by Alain Roux and the high-end Japanese spot Kinu by Takagi, while the spa is one of the best in the country. This eternal favourite is great fun. Rooms: From THB26,480 (£618), room only. 

Published in the Jan/Feb 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK) ​​​​​​

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