The business district of Bangkok isn’t probably the first place that comes to mind, if you’re looking for peace, quiet and harmony. Yet there it is, at the heart of a bustling Asian metropolis hides a true sanctuary. It’s called the Sukhothai.
A minute earlier and a few meters back you’d have found yourself surrounded by intolerable noise, heat and chaos of Bangkok’s street. But that’s in the past now that you’ve taken the short stroll down a wooden footpath, walked past two classic Thai villas whose shapely structures are beautifully reflected in lotus ponds at their feet, crossed under a massive tree whose dense crown graces the hotel’s entrance with generous shade and entered the Sukhothai lobby.
The first word that comes to mind here is space. In this densely packed megapolis, where each square meter of ground is occupied by someone or something, where buildings, for lack of any other direction in which to grow, shoot up for the stars, the Sukhothai stretches out in open spaces. The wide, long hallways, the symmetrical colonnades reflected in the ponds, high ceilings and mirrors incorporated in the design all add to this spacious feeling. And it’s not just the first impression, later on this sensation of abundant space is further amplified when you realize, how easy it is to find yourself completely alone in the Sukhothai. Even though it’s a hotel with 210 rooms and occupancy rarely dropping below 80%, the atmosphere is dominated by meditative silence.
How striking is this silence is best realized when you hear the chirping birds. Right there, at the heart of the urban cacophony of Bangkok , once can actually sit down, kick back and relax to the tune of a singing bird. Birds build their nests, rest in the shade and give free of charge concerts on the trees of the Sukhothai courtyard – maybe the most notable element of the hotel’s masterplan. This sizable square decorated with lily ponds and shady trees is one of two Sukothai’s landmarks – the other being a line of brick stupas at another of the hotel’s ponds.
There are more such throwback to Thailand’s ancient past here – after all the hotel’s design was inspired by the aesthetics of the Kingdom of Sukhothai – one of the states preceding modern-day Thailand. This inspiration is visible in the artefacts decorating the hotel’s rooms, a hotel shop dealing only in art and antiques and the general planning of the hotel’s architecture based largely on classic, rectangular shapes.
Those rectangles are also present inside the rooms – giving shape to the beds, sofas, armchairs and more. Perfectly symmetrical, they add to the hotel’s harmonious, peaceful ambiance as do the materials used in the interior design – teak wood and fine fabrics, which in addition give the indoor spaces and warm, pleasant feel.
Classic design philosophy, classic materials, classic elegant vibe, all these are notions of a hotel with some history. And indeed, the Sukhothai was built a quarter of century ago and to this day it remains in its original shape. But thanks to one – timeless design and two – careful maintenance, it feels as fresh as if it was built yesterday.
You might find some elements of the Sukhothai experience in other luxury hotels – the sumptuous breakfast and the sizeable pool being just two obvious examples. But what you will be hard pressed to find elsewhere is this level of graceful elegance resulting largely from the respect given to the country’s and the hotel’s past which in turn brings to mind yet another word that describes the Sukhothai well – timeless.