The Metropolitan Bangkok is the sister hotel to London's Metropolitan - a sleek and contemporary boutique hotel, with staff outfitted in black designer uniforms, and lots of white paint and dark wood. One might be tempted to think that the sort of minimal, vaguely Oriental design that is all the rage in Western boutiques would fall flat when transplanted to the part of the world formerly known as the Orient. But one would be wrong.
The effect is no less soothing and enveloping here than it is in London - just ask the film and fashion types lounging in the lobby, as they have probably been to both. One difference is the state of the hotel industry in the respective cities; in London it seems impossible to walk a block without passing an achingly hip boutique hotel, but in Bangkok, the Metropolitan is a welcome and not at all commonplace alternative to the grand old colonial palaces and the five-star luxury chain megahotels.
Of course when the Peninsula and the Oriental are your competition, you need to have some top-notch facilities. Delightfully, the Metropolitan goes far beyond what one might expect from a chic little boutique, with two restaurants, an outdoor pool, 24-hour room service, and an absurdly decadent Shambhala spa. The Met Bar is the equal of the London Met, and is, ingeniously, for hotel guests and members only. And while many Eastern hotel restaurants offer an all too familiar blend of Asian and French cuisine, Cy'an imaginatively marries the local tradition with a Moorish Mediterranean influence.
The location is central, on South Sathorn Road in the city's main business district, quieter than one might expect, yet equally convenient for daytime shopping and nighttime clubbing. The noise and chaos of Bangkok stand in sharp relief to the peace and quiet within the Metropolitan's walls - an impressive feat indeed.
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