In May 2022, I checked into the Premier River-View Room at Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at Chao Phraya River. Situated within the high-end mixed development Chao Phraya Estate along Bangkok’s landmark Chao Phraya River, the 299-key ultra-luxury urban resort is a 10-minute walk from Bangkok’s Rattanakosin Old Town district, with the Grand Palace, National Museum and the iconic Wat Arun Buddhist temple being nearby attractions. A car can bring you to the nearby Saphan Taksin skytrain station in five minutes, while Suvarnabhumi Airport is 40 minutes away. Complimentary boat shuttle service to ICONSIAM shopping centre across the river is available.
Capella Bangkok is next door, while other notable hotels in the vicinity include Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok and lebua at State Tower.
The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): Stately grandeur meets resort escapism in riverfront setting.
Must Dos: Enjoy the exceedingly comfortable room, take a dip in one of the hotel’s three pools, have a cocktail or three at BKK Social Club, have dinner at Brasserie Palmier.
FOUR SEASONS HOTEL BANGKOK AT CHAO PHRAYA RIVER
The hotel is designed by Belgian starchitect Jean-Michel Gathy, who also designed the Four Seasons Tokyo, Capella Sanya, Marina Bay Sands as well as various Aman resorts around the world, while most of the dining spaces were designed by AvroKO, the team behind gorgeous dining concepts at The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore, Rosewood Bangkok, Waldorf Astoria Bangkok and Park Hyatt Bangkok.
Upon stepping into the cavernous hotel lobby with its double-height ceilings, you are immediately enveloped by a soothing sense of calm and serenity. Beyond the tall glass windows ahead lie several giant black pebbles sitting on the surface of a reflection pond with plant and floral arrangements in the lobby framing the zen stillframe, while the entrance is flanked by towering stone sculptures each resembling the folds of a monk’s robe with a recurring elephant motif at the base. (At this point, there was a certain air of grandeur and dignity that reminded me slightly of Aman Tokyo.) As you make your way past the tasteful art pieces and elegant residential stylings of the central lobby lounge towards the guest elevators, your eyes are immediately drawn to the striking artwork at the end of the extended walkway which resembles a shining, pulsating bolt against a deep cobalt backdrop. The winding bolt represents the vibrant Chao Phraya River, which forms a key focal point of the property – two infinity pools are situated along its banks; most of the guest rooms and suite boast scenic river views; riverfront French restaurant Brasserie Palmier focuses on seafood in tribute to its past as a fish market; and breakfast venue and Italian restaurant Riva Del Fiume Ristorante boasts terraced riverside seats.
You don’t actually have to venture to the riverfront to see water – guests are greeted by water features throughout the property, most notably the terraced waterscapes with tall grass in the main courtyard which resemble flooded rice paddies in rural Thailand. The hotel’s reflective water surfaces, lush greenery as well as soaring, interconnected and light-drenched walkways all contribute to decidedly classy resort vibes as well as an immersive feeling of infinite spatial expanse. Most of the Four Seasons properties I have experienced in the past (such as Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou) possess very striking design features, and this hotel is no exception, showcasing various gorgeous design features and artworks. (The hotel even boasts the ART Space, a rotating art exhibition space in partnership with the Bangkok Museum of Contemporary Art.) One of my favourites would be “Life Reflection”, a gleaming art installation by Thai artist Dong Sculpture suspended on the ceiling above a pool of water at the edge of the infinity courtyard which resembles the colours of the setting sun. At sunset, the sheltered lounge area comes alive in a manner that really needs to be experienced to be believed, and during the few minutes I spent there, I remained in a fantasy headspace far away from the realities of urban cityscape.
In terms of wellness, the hotel offers a well-equipped fitness centre and adjacent lap pool, two multi-tiered infinity pools by the riverfront as well as a Wellness Centre which has yet to open. While the open-concept riverfront pools offered jet massage facilities, an abundance of deck chairs and poolside dining, I actually preferred the privacy of the lap pool which was tucked away high up in a secluded area away from the central and more public-facing hotel areas.
PREMIER RIVER-VIEW ROOM
Boasting towering ceilings which give the room a luxurious airiness, the 50sqm Premier River-View Room delivers on its titular promise, offering intimately close views of the iconic Chao Phraya River (with window-side daybeds and sofa seating for your optimal viewing pleasure). The room plays it all tasteful and subdued with shades of grey, navy and taupe, with various Thai-inspired decorative pieces giving the space a sense of place. The pantry is equipped with Nespresso and premium tea-making facilities, while the minibar is happily stocked with beers along with premium spirits and wines (think St. George Botanivore Gin, Chalong Bay Rum, Belvedere Vodka and Champagne Delamotte).
The marble bathroom has double vanities, a free standing bathtub as well as rainfall shower. Bathroom amenities are courtesy of French luxury perfume house Maison Francis Kurkdjian.
Being a keen collector of hotel plush mascots, I was pleased to be gifted with snowy white elephant Chao Plai before my departure. No prizes for guessing the origin of its name.
Breakfast is served at Riva del Fiume Ristorante, the Italian restaurant which offers modern Italian dishes in a Lake Como-inspired setting with both indoor and terraced seating next to the riverwalk. The buffet comprises an extensive selection of salads, fruits and juices, cold cuts and cheeses; a pancake, waffle and egg station; a counter serving house-baked savoury breads (the Egg Pizza is a highlight) as well as sweet pastries (think Hazelnut Praline Roll, Raspberry Danish, Apple Chausson and Raisin and Vanilla Roll); and Asian and Thai specialties such as Seabass Teriyaki, Thai Basil Minced Meat Salad, Wonton Noodle Soup and Prawn Congee.
Riverfront French restaurant Brasserie Palmier serves brasserie classics alongside various fish and seafood dishes in a chic tropical setting, with both indoor and outdoor seating available. The Boudeuse David Hervé N4 oysters started things on a luxurious note, while the Obsiblue Shrimp Tartare, accompanied by a crispy prawn head and prawn cracker, was a delicate canvas for its tomato marmalade and avocado & kiwi guacamole companions to play out their savoury ambitions. The Lobster bisque à l’Américaine was richly comforting, while the happily-greased Sole Grenobloise (pan-fried with capers, lemon, parsley, crouton) was paired with addictive Palmier French Fries which flaunted their layers of sweet potato bliss like a body-positive magazine cover model. Served tableside, the Passion Fruit-Banana Omelette Norvegienne (rhum, lime zest confit) ended dinner on a theatrical and naughtily boozy note.
Helmed by Phillip Bischoff of Singapore’s award-winning Manhattan Bar fame, the vibrant and very sexy BKK Social Club pays tribute to the glamour and lifestyle of 1920s Buenos Aires, with vermouth being the favoured element in its arsenal. The Criollo (Argentinian Torrontes, Widges Gin, Apricot, Peach, Citrus, Apple, Strawberry, Soda) was a refreshing yet suitably boozy start to the evening, while the Hand of God (Ocho Reposado Tequila, Campari, Cacao Malbec Wine Cordial) was a tequila take on the Negroni. The fizzy Caminito (Lemon Curd Vermouth Blend, Cherry, Orange Bitters, Jacquesson 742 Champagne) was my favourite of the night, with the vermouth blend giving the bubbly a fuller body and an unexpected oompf which made the champagne…champagnier. Of course, one should not leave without having The Manhattan (Michter’s US 1 Straight Rye Whiskey, Michter’s US 1 Small Batch Bourbon, House Cherry Brandy, Bitters, Sweet Vermouth Blend).
Rounding up the hotel’s dining concepts is Yu Ting Yuan, the Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant which serves exquisite Cantonese cuisine; riverwalk coffee and pastry concept Cafe Madeleine which attracts pink-dressed patrons primed for their next social media photograph opportunity; and expansive residential-style space The Lounge for your afternoon tea and social moments.
As a side note, I spent one of my afternoons lounging by the riverside pools and went for pool-side dining, and to my surprise, the Stir-fried Basil Chicken with Rice and Egg and Massaman Curry Tofu were properly legit as opposed to resort-style perfunctory.
Despite its 299-rooms, crowd-drawing F&B concepts and general popularity as a social space for both the well-heeled as well as business-centric folks, the hotel manages to maintain a certain hushed and intimate exclusivity across its various spaces. Even its light-drenched lobby spaces feel rather private, with the various pillars, partitions and spaced out seating adding to a sense of public anonymity.
Comparisons will inevitably be drawn between the hotel and its neighbour Capella Bangkok, which delivers a decidedly more boutique and private resort hideaway experience as well as exceptional wellness offerings. (I say this without having had the benefit of experiencing the hotel’s Wellness Centre which was still undergoing renovation works during my visit.) However, this property edges out its competitor in terms of its sheer scale of ultra-luxury offered not just in terms of breadth but also visual spectacle across its various spaces.
One of the best properties in Bangkok.
Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok At Chao Phraya River
300/2 Charoenkrung Road
Yannawa, Sathorn, Bangkok 10120