The Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok is just the place to suite, drink and be merry.
By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales
In a year fraught with uncertainty, the Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok, with its focus on crafting an experience of serenity and beauty, is in many ways a reminder that there is rest to be found beyond the mounting travails of everyday life. In fact, the Maa-Lai in its name refers to the Thai philosophy of lamiat, which urges everyone to approach life as a work of art – an easy feat within its soothing tones and displays of art.
Walking into the lobby, I was immediately enveloped in a myriad of textures. From the magnificent column of ‘cracked’ rock that greets you to the Thai craft installations of fabric that represent life in Thailand – the Chao Phraya river here, a touch of the monsoon rains there – the energy I got was of a hive of sophisticated creativity. “Here at Kimpton, we want every space to feel alive,” I’m told as I’m given the tour of the deceptively large property. Indeed, as I take note of the deliberately mismatched, but always bespoke and considered, furniture; the motifs in every space – even the meeting room floor models a photography studio – and the way that every room makes use of natural light; I understood their philosophy. Not a single aspect bowed down to convention, even the hotel’s pet-friendly policy. “If it fits in the lift, you can bring it!” my guide tells me with a laugh.
My Deluxe Room was a study in both comfort and sophistication, and I admit I spent far too long being titillated by the electronic curtains that I could draw open or close at the touch of a button. The choice of rooms is endless, including sprawling suites for the entire family or, for those tempted by life in the lap of luxury, residences for long-term stayers. Fellow staycationers with furry family members raved about the dedicated pet beds and feeding bowls in their rooms; thoughtfulness matched by the hotel’s Forgot it? We got it! programme which will provide you with any amenity you’ve forgotten.
That night, we had a cocktail introduction programme and dinner at the hotel’s newest F&B outlet, Ms. Jigger, a restaurant I’d had the delight of eating at before, but which never fails to charm with its classic Italian cuisine, urbane feel, and unique backstory. Crafted around the story of a sophisticated traveller who broke conventions and hearts wherever she roamed, I would particularly recommend the narrative-driven cocktails which draw inspiration from around the world. The Feast of ferragosto (THB 340) with its smattering of parmesan? Divine.
The next day, after a long night of bonding over good food and sparkling wit and wines, we went down to the soon-to-be-opened Stock.Room, the Kimpton’s ‘grocerant’ – grocer-turned-restaurant – for an exclusive preview of the space. Taking up an entire floor, it brought to mind an artist’s loft studio, with foliage hanging from the exposed rafters and a brick wall dyed by streams of paint in shades of green. By mutual agreement, we all wore to breakfast the decorative Tube Gallery x Christian Develter robes from our rooms, which fit in with the chic artist’s lounge aesthetic. With live stations, an extensive menu, and stalls of freshly-made produce, I foresee another F&B hit in the hotel’s future.
I ate my lunch at CRAFT, the ‘social hub’ within the hotel’s lobby, known for their single-origin coffees and pet-friendly atmosphere. Popular among guests and visitors alike, the clever spacing and comfortable seating ensure you’re never too overwhelmed by the bustle, and I spent a diverting hour enjoying a bracing cup of Turkish coffee while waving at the array of cute canines that walked past.
That afternoon, I was given a choice of activities within the hotel, and though a yoga class (or even Thai boxing) at the well-equipped and multi-function gym did tempt me, I chose the indulgent route and booked myself an aromatic massage at the amaranth spa by HARNN. From the moment I walked in, I was ensconced in flowing lines and their signature amaranth scent, with the kind of attention to detail one can only get at the best establishments. If there’s one thing I’d recommend, it’s allowing an hour or two there to give you the solace we all need from 2020.
After cocktails at the Maa-Lai lounge, an eclectic yet striking co-working and event space with one of the most beautiful sunset views I’ve seen over the city, we retired to Bar.Yard, the hotel’s tropical-themed rooftop bar and restaurant. Channelling a ‘barbecue in the sky’ concept with bright floral murals, a stunning panorama, and authentic Mexican favourites, Bar.Yard has easily risen to the top of my personal rankings of rooftop watering holes.
The next day, after another lavish breakfast at Stock.Room, we gathered at a separate section set up as a cooking studio, replete with hand-drawn chalk doodles in a fully-equipped kitchen. There, the executive chef walked us through a simple cupcake recipe; a delightful morning of bonding and sweet success for the winners of the mock-competition afterwards. The pop-up cooking class, I was told, is a regular offering at the Kimpton for those looking for activities for the whole family to enjoy.
We stayed at the Stock.Room for lunch – when it opens, the Lobster ceviche is a must-try – before it was finally time to say goodbye to our glamorous little oasis of calm. Overall, however, the stay was one I couldn’t speak highly enough of, with all the little touches that make it an experience to remember.
The morning kick-start at the expansive Garden Terrace, open to all visitors from 6am. Early mornings are not my scene, but the robust but flavourful coffee, fresh juices, and restful atmosphere make it an ideal (kick) start to whatever your day may hold.