Some of the first small luxury hotels came under the Kimpton banner. They offered more personalised, home-away-from-home experiences, ultimately contributing to a new trend now firmly cemented as a big part of the hospitality sector: the boutique hotel. The brand, however, only entered South East Asia in recent years, with Kimpton Bangkok Maa-Lai being the first in the region.
Owing to the five-star hotel’s success, Kimpton added another in Koh Samui. Now plans are afoot to open another two in Thailand (Khaoyai and Hua Hin), one in Bali and another in Kuala Lumpur. And although there are more rooms at this hip outpost in Thailand’s capital than at Kimpton’s first hotels, it still retains a dedication to putting guests’ needs first. Expect funky decor, an urban oasis pool area, a rooftop bar with world-class views over the city, and, in our opinion, the best hotel breakfast in Thailand.
Kimpton Maa-Lai sits in Phloenchit, an upmarket area of Bangkok strewn with high-end hotels, flashy apartment blocks and embassy buildings (the Kimpton overlooks the US and Netherlands’). The Erawan Shrine is a 15-minute walk from the hotel, and you can get to the leafy Lumphini park in under 10 minutes. Bangkok’s main airports are around 40 minutes drive away, and BTS station is around 10 minutes on foot.
It’s a safe bet to keep hotel interiors neutral but there’s always a danger they may look drab. Not here. The Kimpton Maa-Lai’s 362 rooms are all well-finished, tasteful spaces that provide all the necessities you need to get a good night’s sleep in a city known for late nights, loud noises and debauchery. Those include plush bed linens, premium pillows and black-out blinds. Floor-to-ceiling windows invite light streams and frame epic views across the city, especially from higher floors. Thankfully, a switch’s flick, located next to your bed, is all you need to access these prime cityscapes.
Interiors-wise, carpets are monochrome and abstract, and ridged black cabinets and contemporary gold lights prevent things from being boring. However, the local artwork – including canvasses of inverted parks – is an acquired taste. White marble dominates the bathroom, some of which come with freestanding baths. Rooms have all the usual stuff you’d expect from a five-star hotel – coffee machines, a snack bar and a safe. Added extras, however, include a yoga mat, Bluetooth speaker and bottled cocktails. Large smart TVs have screen mirroring – ideal for streaming Netflix on quieter evenings.
To say interiors at Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok are trendy would be doing interior design company P49 Deesign a disservice. The Bangkok-based agency worked closely with local artists to strike the right chord between cool, tasteful and sophisticated. Still, it would appear the hotel was curated to appeal to the kind of crowd with a particular style preference. Perhaps those who like good coffee, roaming around art galleries, flicking through design magazines, and colour-blocking their outfits.
There are elements of industrial style – exposed piping, black metal girders and black brick walls. However, it’s not pastiche, lying somewhere between a modernist art gallery and a hipster coffee bar. Notable highlights include a glass sculpture cascading from ceilings, black rock-effect walls and huge tasteful beige embroideries of Thai blossom in the lobby. Like all the best luxury hotels, textures are plentiful and utilised effectively – sunken leather chairs, beige, grey chaise longues, black tiles and laminated wooden floors.
Service is efficient but laid-back. You won’t get the kind of hands-on, I’ll-do-anything service you get at more traditional five-star hotels, but that’s part of what makes Kimpton Maa-Lai different. It’s more catered towards independent folk who prefer not being overly fussed-over. Though breakfast service runs like a well-oiled machine, and chefs offer allergy advice or highlight key dishes to try. Elsewhere, smiley bellhops are always on-hand to help with cabs and luggage without any fuss.
The boutique hotel’s facilities are superb. The gym has all the machines and free weights you’d expect from an inner city gym, with the bonus of a climbing wall, punch bag, complimentary water and towels and running machines with Netflix. Muay Thai, yoga and other classes are also available. On the same level, a true urban oasis awaits anyone keen to evade Bangkok’s sweaty climate. The infinity pool has water jets and overlooks a green area. You’ll also usually find guests staging photoshoots for social media or lounging on comfy cabana beds nearby.
On the roof, Bar Yard, a fancy Tikki bar, serves some of the most spectacular views across Bangkok’s skyline, with seating positioned perfectly to drink it all in. Things get lively here with guests, ex-pats and off-site visitors for sunset, so booking is advised.
Food & drink 8/10
The Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok is home to a world-beating breakfast in the Stock.Room on the fifth floor. You’ll want to put a few hours aside to properly enjoy the extravagant spectacle, which caters to many of its international guests – from China, Korea, India, the US and the Middle East. Seven stations range from ‘Western’ (eggs, bacon, beans etc.) to Korean chicken, Indian curries, and Middle Eastern and Thai specialities. If somehow you can’t find something you like from the cast array of options on the buffet, avocado toast, eggs, and other options are available on the al a carte menu.
Downstairs on the lobby level, Craft is a coffee shop in the lobby area serving up doughnuts, pastries etc., all-day brunch. You’ll find young folk hunched over macs, couples grabbing cold brews and business catch-ups. Ms. Jigger, also on the ground floor, is an Italian restaurant serving dishes like homemade pizza and fancy truffle pasta. Finally, Bar. Yard, on the 40th floor, offers a Mexican experience – tacos, nachos etc. – and sweet-looking ice cream sandwiches.
Double rooms from £235 per night, room only (room rates vary and may be subject to change) – kimptonmaalaibangkok.com
78 Soi Ton Son, Lumphini, Pathum Wan, Bangkok 10330