Bangkok travel guide
Author: Lara Dunston
Photography: Terence Carter
The W's arty vibe and clubby style reflects the character of Sathorn, a district in the city's central-west dotted with galleries and speakeasies, and neighbouring Silom, best known for its nightlife and gay scene. Interiors by New York design firm AvroKO and Thai architecture and design house SODA feature playful installations by local artists, such as a wall of tuk-tuk lights, and whimsical touches such as cushions made from satin Muay Thai boxer shorts and oversized boxing gloves on beds in the 402 guestrooms. 106 North Sathorn Rd, Silom
Metropolitan by COMO
This minimalist boutique hotel is home to chef David Thompson's Nahm, number one on Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list - that's reason enough to stay. But whereas its location was once an inconvenience, it's now within walking distance of many of Silom's new cafés, restaurants and bars. Or stay in for superb breakfasts and loll about the hotel's 25-metre swimming pool. 27 South Sathorn Rd, Silom
Silom-Sathorn's engaging galleries include H Gallery, which shows international and Thai art in a beautiful heritage building (201 Sathorn Soi 12); Kathmandu for local photography (87 Soi Pan); Artery, focusing on emerging Thai art (2/2 Silom Soi 19); and Thavibu, focused on Thai, Burmese and Vietnamese art (919/1 Silom Rd). These and more feature on the Bangkok Art Map, available at the galleries.
Cafés and bars
The area is brimming with new cafés and bars. Light-filled Rocket serves artisanal breads, organic local produce and coffee from small-batch roasters (149 Sathorn Soi 12). Moko serves Med-leaning breakfasts set in a bright space decorated with handcrafted furniture and original art for sale (71/2 Sathorn Soi 10). At Namsaah Bottling Trust, the new gastro-pub of chef Ian Kittichai (of Issaya Siamese Club), chase salmon tartare wonton tacos with Negronis made from fresh tangerine juice and roasted mandarin (401 Silom Soi 7). Savour barrel-aged cocktails and infused spirits at Vesper, a lively European bistro and cocktail bar (10/15 Convent Rd). At Shanghai-inspired speakeasy Maggie Choo's, order classic cocktails and Thai-Chinese dishes while watching live cabaret, jazz and blues. It's the brainchild of Australian Ashley Sutton, responsible for Bangkok's most original, almost surreal bars (320 Silom Rd). Tucked above Lady Brett with no signage, UNCLE is a speakeasy in the true sense, serving craft cocktails in vintage-style glassware (149 Sathorn Soi 12).
Australian siblings Darren and Cherie Hausler opened this welcoming restaurant 16 years ago. A glam bar was added recently with cocktails by mixologist Joseph Boroski, but it's chef Tim Butler's "modern, international, regional" cuisine and dishes such as pearl-shell ceviche with yuzu granita, honeydew and shiso that vaulted it to 37 on Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list. Soi Pipat 2, off Convent Rd
In late 2013 ,Thitid Tassanakajohn and Worathon Udomchalotorn returned from New York after stints at Jean Georges and Eleven Madison Park to open Le Du. They source seasonal local produce to create Thai-influenced dishes such as local kurobuta pork (fed pineapple wine for 180 days) with corn three ways and blackcurrant jus. 399/3 Silom Soi 7
Modelled on an American tavern, this 2014 opening became a local favourite, especially with solo diners. Expect comfort food with a twist such as charred pork chops with braised kale, chilli jam and pork belly adobo. Sathorn Soi 12
Try local specialties such as khao na phed (aka roast duck and rice) at family-owned eateries such as Mr Soong's 50-year-old restaurant on Bangkok Food Tours' award-winning walk through nearby historic Bangrak.
Take a ferry and long-tail boat to Koh Kret, an island on Chao Phraya River, home to the country's oldest Mon ethnic group, to visit pagodas, buy Mon pottery and try desserts and snacks such as fried flowers. Backyard Travel also runs tours.