The Athenee Bangkok: a Royal Face-lift

On one of his many visits to the Thai capital, Mark Bibby Jackson leaves the creature comfort of Sukhumvit behind him and stays at The Athenee Bangkok.

Lifestyle, Reviews

On one of his many visits to the Thai capital, Mark Bibby Jackson leaves the creature comfort of Sukhumvit behind him and stays at The Athenee Bangkok.

As I walked into the Black Swan – a common haunt on my flying trips through Bangkok ­– I could detect a change of atmosphere when I answered the traditional question that greats my arrival. “The Athenee,” I said, “I’m staying at the Athenee.” Clearly my drinking buddies were not accustomed to my booking into such illustrious hotels.

“Plaza Athenee,” one of them – also called Mark ­– immediately corrected me, quite erroneously. “Very HiSo,” before adding that he knew the sous chef there. He was in the business.

His mistake was understandable for it was only in October 2017 that the Plaza Athénée Bangkok rebranded as The Athenee Hotel, as it became part of the Luxury Collection – apparently the accents were now considered redundant.

The Athenee Bangkok
The redesigned swimming pool at The Athenee Bangkok

Mark was right about one thing. The Athenee, whether accented or not, is most definitely HiSo. This is where rich Thais marry their children off to other rich Thais, a fact reinforced by the wedding reception that was taking over the hotel’s mezzanine level as I arrived. It also has a Sunday brunch held in high esteem by the capital’s expats.

The Athenee stands on the grounds of the Kandhavas Palace, the residence of Princess Valaya Alongkorn, aunt of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The princess was noted for her love of travel and her modern style, and it is this which The Luxury Collection has tried to capture in its multi-million dollar renovation.

Combining authentic Thai motifs with contemporary luxuries, such as an Illy espresso capsule machine and the latest wireless technology, and with an exquisite eye for detail, the transformation is an unquestionable success. So much so that it has received the Best Hotel Interior Thailand at the Five Star Asia Pacific Property Awards. It is also the first hotel in the world to achieve ISO 20121 certification for planning and delivering sustainable events.

Not that the sensual satisfaction of The Athenee Bangkok is solely to do with the eye, with four signature restaurants on the third floor, the Glaz bar, and The Rain Tree Café, where breakfast is served in a three separate dining areas on the ground floor, your stomach is well looked after as well.

A treatment room at the spa at The Athenee Bangkok
A treatment room at the spa at The Athenee Bangkok

And if relaxation is what you are after, the pool area has also been redesigned to create an excellent green oasis where you can relax or enjoy chic evening soirees – or gate crash wedding receptions – in the adjoining bar. Next to the pool, the spa has therapists who will tailor treatments to your personal requirements, and even your blood type.

There’s also an optional butler service for those who find unpacking their own bags a bit of a drag.

As I am leaving after a most delightful, and restful stay, I notice a three-piece band playing in the foyer outside the Rain Tree Café. It’s late on a Sunday morning, and the staff are gearing up to serve brunch. How about sampling that brunch? I take a quick escorted tour inside. Able to resist anything but temptation, sadly I recall a prior engagement to meet some friends in a jazz bar. An appointment that I resolve to make, despite the lure of the inviting fresh seafood on display.

Well, there is always next time. However, if there is a next time at The Athenee Bangkok at least, I better not tell my drinking friends, after all I don’t want them getting too jealous, do I?

The Athenee
A Luxury Collection Hotel, Bangkok
61 Wireless Road (Witthayu), Lumpini, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
T. (+66) 2650 8800

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Mark Bibby Jackson

Mark Bibby Jackson

Before setting up Travel Begins at 40, Mark was the publisher of AsiaLIFE Cambodia and a freelance travel writer. When he is not packing and unpacking his travelling bag, Mark writes novels, including To Cook A Spider and Peppered Justice. He loves walking, eating, tasting beer, isolation and arthouse movies, as well as talking to strangers on planes, buses and trains whenever possible. Most at home when not at home.

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