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Lauren Halsey


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Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Bangkok.
Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Bangkok.
Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Bangkok.
Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Bangkok.
Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Bangkok.
Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Bangkok.
Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Bangkok.
Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Bangkok.
Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Bangkok.

Waldorf Astoria Bangkok Debuts a New Approach to Luxury Hospitality

By Eliza Jordan

December 18, 2018

Waldorf Astoria Bangkok opened on August 30 in Thailand, debuting a new approach to luxury hospitality for its first venture in Southeast Asia. It was a blistering hot day in the city, but the site was already bustling with visitors, offering a cool oasis. Guests are first welcomed by a tall, sweeping entrance with columns and brass lighting fixtures designed like bells and lanterns, inspired by Thai temples. With dynamic attention to detail, the new hotel exceptionally captures the Waldorf Astoria’s signature feel while distinguishing itself as a destination among the brand’s 30 other international locations.

Situated just steps from the active Ratchaprasong intersection, the Hilton-managed hotel is joined by a set of exterior residences on the backend of the property, altogether owned by Magnolia Quality Development Corporation Limited. It was designed by the award-winning architect André Fu and his studio AFSO, based in Hong Kong. The hotel is spread out over 57 floors with 171 guestrooms, a ballroom, a spa, a 24-hour fitness center, a large outdoor swimming pool and pool bar, and an array of food and beverage establishments.

Front Room is the signature restaurant downstairs, run by acclaimed Chef Fae Rungthiwa Chummongkhon, and it elegantly blends Nordic cuisine with Thai flavors. In the upper lobby, The Brasserie boasts stunning views and traditional French fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On the same floor, around a large bend, is Peacock Alley. Modeled after the original in New York, the lounge is perfect for an afternoon tea or a light meal, anchored by a large clock behind the bar, and pendants, motifs, and mineral-gray hues that make for a residential atmosphere.

“I’m genuinely interested in hospitality,” Fu told us the week of the opening. “When I first visited New York as a teenager, it was when Ian Schrager was doing his boutique hotel thing and there was an explosion of hotels in the industry with animated lobbies. That got me really excited about hotel environments and interested in this notion of hospitality.”

Even though he ultimately pursued architecture, hospitality remained a primary interest for Fu. He views the hotel experience as one that’s holistic—an experience that should not be just for living, but eating, sleeping, and memory-making, too. “It’s a complete environment,” he said. “And luxury is changing. People want things that are genuine and thoughtful—beyond the superficial. These experiences are hard to describe. But it’s a world that is between the past, present, and the future.” He sees it as a mix of modern, classical, and contemporary, both Thai and Western. “I think a lot of my work boils down to curating a world that is a little bit of the
unknown, made up of things that people can easily relate to. This is relaxed luxury.”

On the top three floors are spaces by the New York–based design and concept firm AvroKO: Bull & Bear, a dark and masculine restaurant focused on grilled meats, a raw bar, and Art Deco–inspired details; The Loft, a feminine and plush cocktail bar that takes inspiration from supplies found in an artist’s loft studio and the Waldorf Astoria Bar Book from 1935; and The Champagne Bar, whose expansive city views can be paired with exceptional cocktails. Everywhere guests find treasures from around the globe, precisely placed to open up or divide a room and add unmistakable character.

“You want to have something you can’t have anywhere else,” said William Harris, co-founder of AvroKO. “We want to continue to innovate and push boundaries and do it in a way that creates a more meaningful experience—with a bit of delight and complexity and a deeper subconscious connection that some may notice, and others may feel.”

That make take more time, care, craft, and thought, Harris notes, but for him, that’s part of the fun. “Bringing in an art element was a way for us to celebrate the city, as we use Thai artisans and craftsmen whenever we can, and we support local artists,” he said. And that’s all mixed with contemporary touches—from found objects to commissioned pieces. “There’s always an element of juxtaposition for complexity that manifests in our projects.”

Throughout the week, we explored the property’s many welcoming spaces, and in each we found a space of solace. During dinner at Bull & Bear, we were surprised with a classic Thai puppet show. In the morning, we were greeted with fresh flowers. And each night, we found treats—from macaroons to DIY cocktail packages—placed on our nightstand. The hotel infuses personal touches into each moment of the day, emulating a sense of connection and excitement unlike any other. Sophisticated but relaxed, stunning yet charming, Waldorf Astoria Bangkok is a new type of hotel experience for today’s global traveler.

AFSOAndre FuAvroKOBull & BearChef Fae Rungthiwa ChummongkhonFront RoomIan SchragerMagnolia Quality Development Corporation LimitedThe BrasserieThe LoftWaldorf AstoriaWaldorf Astoria Bangkok


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