Hotel Review: Oaks Bangkok Sathorn
Big, brash, but never ever boring, Bangkok has as many faces as a Hindu deity just waiting to be explored. From jostling market crowds and delicious wok-fried delicacies served up for pennies, to sophisticated rooftop bars and romantic river cruises, the activities on offer here are limited only by your own curiosity and no two trips are ever the same. But in such a hectic city it is important to choose where to stay carefully – it’s not as easy as it sounds.
The secret to enjoying Bangkok to the full is to spend as little amount of time in taxis as possible. The by now infamous road network in Bangkok becomes a quagmire of cars during peak times which can be an infuriating experience for urban adventurers with a busy schedule and limited time.
Instead, look for accommodation within close proximity to public transport. Making the most of the skytrains, subways and passenger ferries is the key to maximizing your time in Bangkok. For this reason, Oaks Bangkok Sathorn is my insider’s tip for those who want the holy trinity of luxury accommodation, super convenient location and unbeatable value.
Oaks is one of two towers belonging to the Anantara Satorn Hotel, and has only recently changed the name to make it clear they offer hotel rooms and serviced apartments for longer stay guests.
While the Oaks name lacks the exoticism of Anantara, the rooms are identical in size and shape, and are actually preferable for two reasons: cooking facilities are fully operational (cooking is prohibited in the hotel tower) and better views of Bangkok’s riverside attractions, such as the ferris wheel at Asiatique Night Market, Lebua Hotel and Rama 9 Bridge. (The infinity pool, staffed gym, children’s club and buffet breakfast are available to guests in both Anantara and Oaks).
Walking into our one bedroom suite, I’m impressed by its size and sophisticated, uncluttered feel. The use of glass and pale wood is just my kind of understated living environment and as we walk from room to room we noticed ever more reasons to be cheerful.
The white tiled kitchen leads into a cosy living space with comfy sofa, big-screen TV and thick rug, and in the bedroom the king size bed is big enough for all his horses and his men. There are two separate balconies looking out towards the Chao Praya River and in the bathroom a separate bath and massive shower cubicle completed the tour.
A complimentary bowl of tropical fruit on the dining table is a nice touch, as is the handwritten note welcoming us to Oaks. With a fully functioning kitchen, washing machine and two big-screen TVs, we could easily lounge on the sofa and imagine we had just bought our very own luxury apartment in one of Bangkok’s most affluent neighbourhoods. However, Bangkok is calling and we have exploring to do!
Out and About
The great thing about staying in Sathorn is the convenience of getting to the riverside or downtown. The BTS Skytrain is around 200 metres from the hotel and to make things even easier there is a complimentary tuk-tuk to take you there in a uniquely Thai style. From Chong Nonsi BTS Station it is only two stops away from the river in one direction with the shopping Mecca of Siam only three stops in the other.
|Hot tip: In front of Chong Nonsi BTS Station is a branch of American gourmet café Dean & Deluca where they serve a mix of salads, cakes and sandwiches to an urbane clientele. Not very Thai, but perfect for lunch or an afternoon snack.|
Shop, Eat, Explore
Asiatique night market is a great option for those who want to combine many Bangkok experiences into one fun evening. There are hundreds of boutique shops and stalls selling a mix of cutting edge fashion, unusual handicrafts and jewellery, with shops selling mass-produced Beer Chang singlets and other cheap tat kept to a minimum.
There are also many eating options here ranging from ice cream parlours and other snacks to be eaten on the fly, to sit-down restaurants covering practically every regional world cuisine.
Additional activities include a ferris wheel, Joe Louis puppet show and the best ladyboy show in Bangkok: Calypso Cabaret.
To get to there, take the free shuttle ferry from Saphan Taksin Pier next to the BTS Station (two stops from Chong Nonsi). The market opens from 17:00 until around midnight.
Rooftop dining experiences and Bangkok go hand-in-hand. The view from the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel is as incredible as the international cuisine and gets our vote as the best rooftop restaurant in Bangkok. The cocktails are also a sure fire win. With a camera full of panoramic scenes and belly full of food (and one too many mojitos), we took a five-minute taxi back to our hotel.
|Hot tip: We discovered later that Anantara Sathorn Hotel also has a rooftop restaurant; none other than Signor Sassi, the second branch of the world famous Italian restaurant originally from London. The views from the 37th floor are picture postcard perfect and their award-winning spaghetti crab is a must try!|
Resort in the City
After an excellent buffet breakfast at the ground floor 100 Restaurant, we decide to chill for the morning and make the most of the hotel’s facilities. We bag two sun loungers beside the pool before we go up to our room get changed (cheeky, I know).
|Hot tip: An interesting activity offered to guests is the chance to make merit at a local Buddhist temple during the monk’s early morning alms collection. Be warned though, you’ve got to be ready to go before dawn but it is an authentic experience and not put on for show as is sometimes the case.|
Feeling guilty for the non-stop snacking and gourmet feasting, I decide to hit the gym. After my workout I settle down on a sun lounger determined to do some hard work on my tan, but no sooner had we commented on a distinctly dark looking cloud than we felt at first one plop, then another, and soon a tropical shower broke on us! (No wonder the staff were taking the menus and table cloths inside minutes earlier). Jena had the great idea to try and move our spa session forward by a couple of hours which thankfully they’re able to do. It pays to be flexible!
The Senses Spa on the second floor of the Oaks tower offers a range of packages to indulge in, including a silk wrap and genuine gold oil treatment which sounds a bit ancient Egyptian for my tastes but I was assured it was one of the most popular packages.
In the end we go for a foot spa followed by a two-hour traditional Thai deep muscle massage. If there’s anything closer to heaven on earth, I am yet to find it.
Shop ‘til you Drop
No Bangkok visit is complete without some retail therapy and the area around BTS Siam is the place to be for shopping of any variety with top-end desiner labels in Siam Paragon, local up and coming designers in Siam Center next door, and vintage clothing and kooky bargains galore in the alleyways of Siam Square.
Proof of how frenetic Bangkok is – if proof be needed – is supplied liberally when we get off the sky train and are confronted with a free pop concert taking place right next to the shopping mall. Hoards of screaming girls singing along with a Japanese boy band who are preened like a roses on the day before Valentine’s.
Ahh Bangkok, you sure know how to keep things interesting!
Stay & SAVE at Oaks Bangkok Sathorn!