An oasis of serenity, relaxation and uber luxury in the heart of Bangkok city, Shangri-La’s premier location on the famous Chao Phraya River has contributed to its precipitous popularity and success.
The triumph of the first 25 storey Shangri-La Wing led to the opening of the smaller, yet more exclusive Krungthep Wing, both connected by elegant lobbies from the inside and lush gardens on the outside. Planned by architect Kanko Kikaku Sekkisha (KKS) from Japan and experts Leese Robertson Freeman Designers Ltd. (Shangri-La Wing) and Graham Design Ltd. (Krungthep Wing), the hotel offers elegant surroundings coupled with superior levels of service for which Shangri-La has become well-known.
Echoing tradition, yet not totally indigenous, the entrance, lounge and lobby have been peppered with abstract art pieces that tell a story. ‘Spiritual in Triangle’ by local artist Khun Thongchai Srisukpraser depicts living happily in a heaven made on earth. The triangles represent mountains, while the bottom of each piece is like a gateway that also signifies an entry to Shangri-La, purporting hotel guests with a long and happy life.
Towering over the Chao Phraya River on the top four floors of the Shangri-La Wing is the Horizon Club with a choice of 63 swanky guestrooms and 27 suites. The interiors, inspired by ethnic Thai theatre have been enhanced through Thai silks, wood from Southeast Asia, artefacts and paintings with an Asian flavour. While, the design of the Horizon Club Lounge on the 24th floor has been inspired by the exquisite Royal Barges found in native Thai art.
Bensley Design Studios also designed the Salathip restaurant with its signature teak pavilions that celebrate Thai chic, while Tokyo based design outfit Super Potato enhanced the buffet dining experience of the river side dining area at NEXT2 Café. The terrace featuring theatre style kitchens extends along the edge of the river, allowing diners privileged views of the passing long tailed boats.
Angelini, debuted in December 2007 following a transformation by Baldauf Catton von Eckartsberg Architects (BCV Architects) from California, resonates with a clean modern airy aesthetic, while three-level heighted windows frame the river, providing a magnificent setting for the restaurant’s delectable Italian cuisine.
The free form swimming pool forms the heart of this resort with three restaurants clustered around it, all overlooking the banks of the languid Chao Phraya. Top landscape architect Bill Bensley redesigned the pool with gently sloping edges intended for lounging in the water. Swaying palm trees, flowering bougainvillea, orchids and bird of paradise flowers lend to this exotic ambience.
The Chocolate Boutique and The Long Bar, that also overlook the river at the lobby level, have been designed by Wilson and Associates in an elegant contemporary style. Bilkey Llinas Design planned the meeting rooms of the Garden Rooms – event suites for Bangkok’s stylish functions and social events.
The meeting rooms offer guests the feeling of a stately villa, and include the Chairman’s Room and the Garden Gallery, which both open onto verdant pool side gardens. Designed by Julian Coombs and Associates, CHI was envisaged as a haven of calmness inspired by the legend of ‘Shangri-La’.
The 1,000 square metre spa was driven by the architectural principles of Asian temples, using authentic Asian artifacts and design elements, whilst employing the Chinese principles of harmony and balance. From the moment one enters the spa, contemporary interpretations of traditional works and genuine antique artworks sourced from the region abound.
Walking through the spa suites, the lighting becomes more dramatic as light shafts penetrate screens, washing down stone walls. Colours are rich and finishes are understated and simple in this tranquil space. All the feature walls are completed in a split-face stone and are amplified by a delicate light wash.
Another signature design feature of CHI, which can be found in each of the eleven private spa suites, is the expansive teak sliding screen that resonates with the traditional lattice work found in Asia. The Shangri-La Hotel in Bangkok has taken several steps to offer its guests comfort, facilities and resources in a ‘green’ environment.
With a capital investment of 13 million baht, Shangri-La has installed solar panels across a 938 square metre space on its rooftop that powers a solar water heating system – the largest ever installed in any hotel in Thailand!
Even though the Shangri-La has amalgamated various design ideas, architects and interiors over a period of time, they all seem to tell the same story, beautifully threading through all the spaces spanning almost a quarter of a mile on the Chao Phraya River.
Text By Natalie Pedder-Bajaj
Photographs Courtesy Shangri-La, Bangkok