137 Pillars – Bangkok’s Sleek and Suave Staycation
Those looking for a place to pamper themselves with a city staycation, or else recommend visiting friends for the best spot to chill out and escape the city heat and hecticness, usually head in the direction of the Chao Phraya river, opting for a wistful glimpse of Bangkok’s “Venice of the East” glory days at some of the classic hotels there. Yet city dwellers don’t need to travel that far for some real pampering, as the slightly hidden-away 137 Pillars Suites and Residences Bangkok can fulfill pretty much anybody’s city-escape dream.
137 Pillars is probably better known for its Chiang Mai property, which has received worldwide acclaim for its design and detail evoking Thailand’s storied past. A meticulously restored teak wood house and the former headquarters of the Borneo Trading Company over 125 years ago, the property is considered a haven of tranquility and the benchmark of Chiang Mai upscale luxury retreats. The Bangkok property followed, but rather than trying to create a classical duplicate of its sister property, stays more in tune with the city vibe and is hidden away off of Sukhumvit, yet near enough to all the happening spots on Thonglor to combine the best of city living with total escape.
137 Pillars features 34 stylish suites named after royal periods in Thai history – Rattanakosin, Thonburi, Ayutthaya, Sukhothai – and the palatial quarters are fit for royalty. Ranging from 65-125 square meters, suites come with wood-paneled walls, lots of modern artwork, plush bedding, and spacious balconies overlooking the cityscape. The rooms also come with huge marble-floor bathrooms that feature large stand-alone circular bathtubs which look out of bay windows to the city below.
Despite the bygone era trademark of 137 Pillars (along with a complimentary vintage London cab service available to shuttle guests down to the BTS and EmQuartier, and back), there are plenty of cool modern amenities to keep the latest gadget-lover happy. Bathrooms feature state-of-the-art Japanese toilets with heated seats, and suites come with espresso machines, iPod docks, huge digital IPTVs with Bose sound systems, and even 24-hour private butler service!
Perhaps best of all are the outstanding infinity pools which occupy the upper floors of the resort. The one on the roof is for suite guests only (137 Pillars also has 179 residences that feature studio and 1-2 bedroom options, suitable for both short and long-term use), and overlooks all of Bangkok, and is one of the city’s premier sunset soaking spots as well as being incredibly romantic. The other pool (for residents) is on level 27 and is no slouch either, also infinity-edge, with a spacious lounging area behind it.
Even if you don’t end up staying at 137 Pillars, I highly recommend coming over here to experience a meal at Nimitr, the hotel’s suave fine dining option that combines responsible Oriental cuisine with a bit of molecular-style magic, all set above the city, offering fantastic views and an uber-romantic vibe.
Indonesian sous chef Nanang Prasetya Aditama, who has worked chef’s tables from Bali to the Maldives, has designed and crafted together a unique Asian-fused menu here, with presentations that rival molecular Bangkok stalwarts like Gaggan and Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin, both in look and taste.
During my stay at 137 Pillars, I sampled Nimitr’s sous-vide snow fish, in which the Nordic cod gets marinated 24 hours in sweet miso and lotus root dashi, along with a plate of lamb tandoori, where barbecued organic New Zealand lamb cutlets get served with nan bread made of ravioli and ghee-buttered edamame beans.
Even local Thai favorites get a unique makeover here. Tom yum goong is served as a cool gazpacho with lobster terrine and Ikura caviar, and pretty much everything on the menu just tantalizes and wows the taste buds.
Chef Nanang perhaps saved his best for last though, going back to his Indonesian roots and serving up pisang ijo, a traditional iced banana dessert from Makassar. Steamed banana rolls are put on pandan rice mousse and served with coconut ice cream inside of a perfectly created ice grotto ball, which melts as you dig into the mesmerizing creation.
Just upstairs from Nimitr, the Jack Bain’s Bar – its name dedicated to a gentleman whose family lived in the teak homestead that is now the 137 Pillars property up in Chiang Mai – offers cocktails, cigars, and a colonial vibe. Hotel suite guests can also avail themselves of the private check-in lounge upstairs, which does exclusive breakfasts and complimentary high tea in the afternoon, followed by free happy hour cocktails and snacks starting in the evening. You’ll pretty much forget about stress and city life perched up on the roof or in your sleek quarters here, gazing out at the sky with a cold drink in hand, and enjoying the impeccable service.
The property snuggles just off of the one way section of Sukhumvit Soi 39, to the point that even taxi drivers have a tough time finding it, yet it is only a stone’s throw from outside restaurants as well as Thonglor’s vibrant nightlife. If you want an intimate, romantic, and yet firmly city-based stay, come try the elegant 137 Pillars property in Bangkok, and you might end up staying past the weekend if you aren’t careful.
137 Pillars Suites and Residences Bangkok
59/1 Sukhumvit Soi 39
Tel. 02 079 7000