One night in Bangkok. Sounds like the title of a dirty film doesn’t it? Well, it probably is. But it’s also what many people do whilst traveling to and from South East Asia from the UK to break up the so-long-you-might-die journey.
Spending one night in a capital city when it’s your first ever time in the country can be a bit confusing, especially one as diverse as Bangkok.
We were intending to stay where *everyone* else stays – the famous backpacker partying spot Khaosan Road, which is supposed to be great for drinking but a bit souless, and is also full of people who look like they’ve got lost on their way to Magaluf. Fun, no? But three of our friends separately recommended us to stay in Shanghai Mansions Hotel in the China Town district before our trip, so we went for that option. Three people can’t be wrong, we thought.
And they really weren’t.
On Yaowarat Road, right in the heart of Bangkok’s most vibrant Chinatown, this 4-star hotel can be found right in the thick of things.
Atmosphere & Decor
The hotel can best be described as beautiful, oriental palace (or, um mansion). It’s an oasis in the middle of the vibrant, noisy (not to mention pungent) city. Stepping off the busy street into its calm, cool surroundings is immediately relaxing, like applying Aloe Vera to sunburnt skin. The building is nine floors high, and steeped in glamorous history. It used to be owned by one of the country’s most prominent Thai-Chinese families, and was a Chinese Opera House for performing arts. It also served as a house of ill-repute for a while. The hotel still has a sense of theatricality and artistry about it today which can be found in its decor. Here, the romance of old-world Shanghai is met with the modern comfort and style of new-world Shanghai. Although the fabulous décor transports you back to a bygone era, the modern amenities allow all the comfort you so desperately need after 12 hours hunched up on a plane or bus.
True to the hotel’s opulent roots, the 76 bedrooms are indulgently decorated with Chinese antique furniture, and fine fabrics in rich colourful hues. Dark wood and shining lacquered panels provide a contrast, and paintings of beautiful Thai girls stare mischievously down at guests from large paintings.
Our stunning suite was equipped with the softest silver silk dressing gowns, free soft drinks in the mini-bar, a huge stand alone bathtub and showers, a lounge area with an opulent chaise longue and a truly enormous bed. To be fair you could probably comfortably sleep around 25 backpackers in there, but it’s amazing having so much space to yourself.
We also had a very friendly butler. But don’t let that mislead you – the hotel might be grand but the atmosphere is very chilled, and travellers of all ages and budgets stay here. Rooms start from just £45 a night for a double including breakfast.
Food & Drink
If you’re really lazy, you don’t even have to leave the hotel to sample some of the best Chinese food in town. Opened in 2014, the Red Rose restaurant in the hotel has a gorgeous, eclectic, Art Deco style and live jazz music every night. The restaurant’s 1930’s decor mixes bold colours with classic black and white, smooth mirrors with rich velvety textures, elaborate wrought iron detailing with sleek polished surfaces.
The lunch menu features mouth watering dim sum favorites like steamed pork ribs in black bean sauce, shrimp dumplings and Hokkien-style fried noodles. For dinner, delicious Chinese classics like succulent Peking duck and delicate steamed snow fish are on offer. All freshly prepared with quality local produce. The vibrant outdoor terrace on the ground floor is the perfect place to finish the night with a cocktail, and yet more live jazz.
The hotel’s location is ideal for jumping in a Tuk Tuk and exploring China Town. The roads around the hotel are full of locals and tourists, and are lined with thousands of amazing street food vendors, not to mention restaurants and riverside bars, and night markets which are full of amazingly cheap clothes and open until late.
I have to admit, we were intending to check out Khaosan Road during our stay (I wanted to buy some elephant print harem pants and have a few drinks ok!?) until we learnt that its completely across the other side of the city from China Town.
This would be fine if you are staying for two nights or had a late flight the next day. But we had to be up at a sobering 5am for our flight. And to be honest, staying in China Town felt like we saw an authentic side to the city, so I’m glad we experienced each other on our one night there.
So make that five people I know who would highly recommend Shanghai Mansions (including me).
Address: 481 Yaowarat Rd, Khwaeng Samphanthawong, Khet Samphanthawong, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10100, Thailand