For my final night in Bangkok, I moved from the Sindhorn Kempinski to the SO/ Bangkok. In case you’re unfamiliar with the brand, SO/ (previously known as SO Sofitel) is Sofitel’s attempt at shaking off its stodgy image and projecting a younger, casual luxury vibe aimed more at millennials than their well-moneyed parents.
The pitch deck (yes, there is a pitch deck) opens with a dressed-to-the-nines couple fully immersed in a swimming pool, sipping cocktails and staring into each other’s eyes (as one does). From there, it’s buzzphrase after buzzword, “a vivid cocktail of sophistication and style”, “an audacious burst of local energy that is both luxurious and playful”, “an edge that sets the experience apart”.
SO/ calls itself a “fashion-led hotel brand”, collaborating with icons like Karl Lagerfeld and Christian Lacroix. Unlike the ubtiquous Sofitel, SO/ is firmly in boutique territory at the moment, with just nine properties and under 1,500 rooms worldwide (though it plans to grow to 20 properties by 2023). SO/ Bangkok, in fact, was only the second-ever SO/ hotel when it opened in 2012.
|♻️ Test & Go & Come Back & Test & Go Again|
|🏨 tl;dr: SO/ Bangkok|
|The SO/ Bangkok is irresistibly stylish with a great breakfast spread, although its rooms are starting to show their age.|
|👍 The Good||👎 The Bad|
Booking the SO/ Bangkok
- Breakfast for 2
- US$50 hotel credit
- Welcome amenity
- Room upgrade (subject to availability)
- Early check-in (subject to availability)
- Late check-out (subject to availability)
STEP, for the uninitiated, is Accor’s luxury booking channel. STEP rates are treated exactly the same as bookings made through Accor’s official website, which means to say you’ll earn Accor points and enjoy elite benefits (though that’s not always well understood by the front desk, as I’d soon find out!).
SO/ Bangkok: Arrival & Check-in
SO/ Bangkok is located near the Lumphini MRT station, and opposite Lumphini Park. This puts it some distance from the core shopping district around Siam Paragon, approximately 27 minutes (including walking time) by BTS.
You can tell from the start that the SO/ tries hard to channel its inner W, from the avant-garde artwork to the costumes (and they are costumes, not uniforms) worn by the staff. It’s unapologetically brash and unrestrained in its décor, the kind of thing you either hate or love.
Also sharing the lobby was a grab-and-go coffee bar and a chocolatier (offering chocolate-making lessons, because why not).
The ground floor serves as a reception area; check-in takes place on the 9th floor. It’s just as eye-catching as the rest of the hotel, with deep blue and velvet red cushions, chandeliers resembling flattened durians, and sweeping views of Lumphini Park.
I was invited to take a seat, and served an intriguing welcome drink- a pandan green mocktail with a bubble dome, which when popped, released the smoke within. Theatrical stuff indeed.
Check-in was fairly routine until I asked about club lounge access. The associate looked confused, went to check her computer, and told me that I hadn’t booked a club room.
I explained to her that I was an Accor Platinum and therefore entitled to club lounge access. Another check of the computer, and I was told that because I was staying on a “travel agent rate”, I wouldn’t be eligible for points or member benefits.
Now, this is obviously incorrect- as mentioned earlier, STEP is Accor’s own luxury privileges programme, and bookings should be treated the same as those made on the official website. Arguing with the front desk proved pointless, and eventually the GM got involved. He looked mortified that the staff had gotten it wrong, apologised profusely, and proceeded to set things right, even arranging an upgrade to a SO Lofty room for the hassle.
SO/ Bangkok: SO Lofty
The 238 rooms at the SO/ Bangkok are split into the following categories:
|Room||Size||No. of Rooms|
|SO Cozy||38 sqm||88|
|SO Comfy||38-45 sqm||102|
|SO Club||38-45 sqm||20|
|SO Studio||65-74 sqm||11|
|SO Suite||85-94 sqm||8|
|SO Lofty||95-120 sqm||8|
|SO VIP||233 sqm||1|
All rooms are styled after one of four themes: Water, Earth, Wood, Metal. The hotel probably describes it better than I can:
Water Element – Sophistication and Calm
Earth Element – Wonder and Enrichment
Wood Element – Elegance and Tranquillity
Metal Element – Purity and Modernity
What about fire, you say? Well, it’s confusing. Fire used to be a category, but the website (and buttons in the lift) have been scrubbed of references to it. However, you can still find mentions of it around the hotel, such as this diorama.
I was in 2715, a So Lofty water element room.
So Lofty rooms measure between 95-120 sqm, with a separate bedroom and living area. The living room was spacious, though the empty display cabinets made it feel less homely and almost like you’d stumbled into an unoccupied rental unit (which I suppose hotel rooms are!).
Near the entrance was a sizeable guest bathroom.
Shortly after arriving, a small welcome amenity of chocolates and a lemongrass drink was served. These chocolates come from the chocolatier in the lobby, and were pretty delicious.
In the passageway leading to the bedroom was a walk-in wardrobe with a flip-up dressing table, an ironing board, bathrobes, and several hangers.
Just outside the walk-in wardrobe was the room’s mini-bar, stocked with wine glasses, a coffee maker (never seen an illy one before), and a mini-fridge with complimentary water.
The master bedroom was on the far end of the passageway, with the standard Sofitel MyBed. This mattress is on the softer side, although the ergonomics were still pretty good.
There weren’t bedside tables as such, but built into the side of the headboard were universal power outlets (no USB ports, though, and is that a dial-up modem port I see?).
The white, oval-shaped work desk had two sets of universal power outlets and four USB Type-A plugs.
Wi-Fi speeds clocked in at sub-10 Mbps for downloads and uploads, making this the slowest connection of all the Bangkok hotels I stayed in during this trip.
The open concept bathroom had dual vanity areas with cut-out sinks, and waterfall taps that were a bit finnicky to use (the lever didn’t have much graduation, so it was either slight trickle or full blast).
Amenities were separated into his and hers drawers. Sadly, the dental kits carry A.ME toothpaste, the Colgate imitation that’s definitely not dentist-approved.
The shower and bathtub were in a combined wet area, and the tub looked very iniviting indeed. No points for guessing the ying-yang looking design is actually a subtle SO reference.
YTSARA toiletries were dispensed from black pump dispensers.
The toilet had a manual bidet hose, but was otherwise unspectacular. Interestingly enough, some of the lower category rooms have electric bidets so one wonders why the suites didn’t get them too.
You may have spotted it in some of the photos already, but I wouldn’t say this room was in tip top shape. Since it’s a predominantly light coloured, stains and cracks show up much more easily, and I’d say that after a decade of operations, this hotel is about ready for its first major renovation.
SO/ Bangkok: Facilities
The outdoor infinity pool is located on the 10th floor, measuring 32-metres long and 1.3-metres deep. It’s open from 6 a.m to 10 p.m daily, and prior to COVID, hosted its fair share of pool parties (with drinks provided by the currently-closed Water Club).
Next to the pool is a jacuzzi, although the water isn’t heated.
About two dozen pool loungers were set up next to the pool and on the wooden deck behind it.
SO/ Bangkok’s gym is situated next to the swimming pool and open from 6 a.m to 10 p.m daily.
Guests have access to a wide range of Technogym fitness equipment, with personal trainers on standby. There are also pilates or yoga classes available as paid add-ons.
SO/ Bangkok: Executive Lounge
Club Signature, the SO/ Bangkok’s club lounge, is located on the 25th floor and available to guests in SO Club, Studio, Suite, Lofty and VIP rooms, together with Accor Platinum and Diamond members.
The lounge is open from 6 a.m to 11 p.m daily, and guests can enjoy perks such as:
- Complimentary all-day refreshments
- Afternoon tea from 1.30 p.m to 3.30 p.m
- Evening cocktails from 4.30 p.m to 6.30 p.m
- 4 p.m checkout, subject to availability
- Two complimentary pieces of laundry per day
- Complimentary bicycle rental
- Complimentary in-room mini-bar
The lounge is inspired by fashion designer Christian Lacroix , and decked out in an orgy of vivid colours. SO/ Bangkok calls it an “interplay of old Siam meets 19th century France”, and if you squint hard enough, you can kind of see where they’re coming from.
An outdoor patio area provided space for alfresco drinking (and, unfortunately, smoking too). There’s some excellent views of the surrounding neighbourhood, though enjoyment is subject to the vagaries of Bangkok’s infamous air pollution.
The buffet area remains unused for now, but prior to COVID this is where afternoon tea and evening cocktails would be set up. Guests can still help themselves to a selection of drinks from the mini-fridge.
Here’s the full list of all-day drinks, as well as cocktail hour selections.
Some finger food was served along with cocktails, but I didn’t find any of it particularly outstanding. There was a Thai glass noodle salad, some smoked duck, a spring roll, a Japanese maki roll, and assorted cakes.
Service in the lounge was excellent, however, with drinks constantly topped up and guests warmly welcomed back each time.
SO/ Bangkok: Breakfast
Breakfast is served at Red Oven on the 7th floor from 6 a.m to 10.30 a.m daily.
In many ways, Red Oven offers your quintessential Asian hotel buffet breakfast: an over-the-top, kitchen sink approach to the most important meal of the day. The spread here incorporates everything you didn’t know you could eat at breakfast.
Breakfast was divided into three main sections. The first area had a selection of cheeses, cold cuts, deli meats, a salad bar, and assorted cereals.
Next to it was a counter that had various pre-mixed smoothie options, a bewildering selection of cakes and pastries, pancakes and waffles, and even that staple of hotel breakfasts in Asia: ice cream.
The hot food table had youtiao with chocolate sauce (just try it), cast-iron pots filled with ham, sausage, bacon and potatoes, a selection of vegetables, and a Japanese food section.
An egg station would put together any request you had, from Western classics like eggs benedict, to a classic crispy Thai omelette.
I took a little bit of everything, including some waffles and ice cream. While the waffles were just OK, the home made vanilla ice cream was superb. There were real vanilla beans inside, and just the right amount of butterfat.
The SO/ Bangkok cuts a stylish figure among a crowded Bangkok hotel scene with its bold design and unique vibe. Breakfast was particularly memorable, and service (check-in experience aside) was on point- a special mention to the hotel’s GM Nathapong, who not only helped to sort out the check-in snafu, but was also very responsive to emails and feedback.
On the flip side, the hotel’s location might not be the best for those wanting to hit Bangkok’s shopping street, and the rooms are just about due for a renovation.
This would probably be a good choice for those who want a hotel with a boutique vibe but still attached to a major loyalty programme, and who don’t mind being in a quieter location.