Bangkok is a big sprawling city so it can be extremely difficult to decide on where to stay. There are over 300 hotels in the central area alone and shopping centres and other visitor attractions are scattered over a wide area. I have always thought a central area is the best place to stay in Bangkok and a recent trip convinced me that I was right.
The Ratchaprasong location is the most central in Bangkok so some of the major tourist attractions and many restaurants and night-time venues are walkable or within easy reach by the BTS Skytrain system. This is important as it can be difficult to get around this city because of limited public transport facilities suitable for visitors, and horrendous traffic in some areas.
There are hotels in all categories in this area but the four- or five-star properties have rates that are very attractive compared with many other cities, and low transport costs help further. It is possible to walk between all of the following hotels so you can stay in one but dine and use other facilities in some of the others. Here is a quick run-down of what I found.
St Regis Bangkok
This is one of the newer five-star resorts. With 176 stunning large rooms and 51 suites, 24-hour butler service to every room, an exclusive spa, well-appointed exercise room, outdoor swimming pool and contemporary poolside cafe, this is a great hotel. The hotel has a large lounge and the Jojo Restaurant on the ground floor, and then reception, another lounge, and the all-day VIU Restaurant are on floor 12. Rooms are above here so all provide good views, many over the Royal Bangkok Sports Club's green fields.
The Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel
The 354 rooms and suites at this five-star hotel are delightful and there is a choice of award-winning restaurants and what is probably Bangkok's best Sunday brunch. The spa, outdoor swimming pool and 24-hour health club are all superb while the cooking school is a must for culinary enthusiasts. Everyone seems to have a favourite restaurant here. Mine is Spice Market which is designed to resemble a charming old Thai spice shop and has fine Thai cuisine to match.
Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok
This is just metres away and it is another fine five-star property with 380 guest rooms. It is directly linked to a Skytrain station and the Erawin shopping mall. One of the highlights is the stunning i.sawan Residential Spa & Club which has six residential spa cottages, nine treatment bungalows, hair salon, nail bar, health and fitness studios, and a free-form swimming pool. There are many great restaurants including the lovely Erawan Tea Room which is my choice for afternoon tea and Thai cuisine.
The Renaissance Bangkok Ratchaprasong Hotel
This has 333 guestrooms and suites and the mandatory spa, swimming pool and 24-hour fitness centre. Guests can relax with a soothing massage at Quan Spa or in the steam rooms. The hotel also offers free fitness lessons at its gym, and an indoor pool. Restaurants include Flavours with all-day dining, Fei Ya for fine Chinese dishes while La Tavola Restaurant has a wine bar.
The Intercontinental Bangkok
This five-star hotel has 381 luxury guest rooms, including Club InterContinental rooms and a range of suites. The hotel has an ambience of understated luxury and this extends to the rooftop swimming pool, the many restaurants and bars, and to the Spa Intercontinental where I recently experienced a relaxing treatment to die for. There are restaurants serving international, seafood, Italian and Chinese fare.
Centara Grand at Centralworld
The largest of the hotels in this area has 505 rooms over 55 floors. The rooms have state-of-the-art equipment and the nine World Executive Club floors offer even more. Facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre with aerobic studio, sauna, tennis courts and Spa Cenvaree. There are several restaurants and the hotel is part of Centralworld, Bangkok's first totally integrated hotel, convention venue and mega shopping centre.
The Holiday Inn Bangkok
This slightly less luxurious four-star property with 379 rooms in two towers provides an attractive alternative. You can have the same location benefits at a cheaper price. The hotel has a fitness centre, a pool, sauna, children's playground, and three dining options.
Hotel Novotel Bangkok Platinum Pratunam
This is a very modern 283 room four-star, family-friendly hotel in the heart of the fashion district, located above Platinum Mall. The hotel has a restaurant and two bars but these are complemented by many others in the mall. There is an outdoor pool, fitness centre and Turkish bath.
The Shopping Centres
Amarin Plaza has around 300 shops including a popular food hall, a fashion mall and much more. Right next door is boutique Erawan Bangkok which has been divided into four parts — Urban Kitchen, Luxury Fashion, Wellness and beauty, and Services including Erawan Tea Room, bookshop and flower shop.
CentralWorld is the largest shopping complex in Thailand consisting of two department stores, 500 stores, 100 restaurants, 15 cinemas, a kids zone and the largest supermarket in Asia. Across the road is Gaysorn Shopping Centre, an up-market centre with a refined, relaxed environment and a team of valets and concierges for the comfort of shoppers.
Just down the road is the smaller President Arcade shopping centre where there are 37 stores over three stories. There are also Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Brazilian restaurants. Finally there is Platinum Fashion Mall, a modern wholesale mall with more than 1,000 shops, which will also sell to retail customers.
The Shrines and Temple
Prathum Wanaram Temple is a peaceful Buddhist temple built nearly 160 years ago. The large compound is surrounded by activity but inside there is a sense of history and spirituality. Many locals and visitors are attracted here because of this.
Seven Deities which connect modern Bangkok to ancient Hindu gods and goddesses are found on the streets of this area. The most well known is Erawan Shrine next to the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Indra shrine is in front of Amarin Plaza, Trimurti Shrine and Ganesh Shrine are in front of CentralWorld, Uma Shrine is across the road from here, while there are statues in front of the InterContinental Hotel and in the Gaysorn Shopping Centre.
Inset photos by Phrensi Rutledge