Luxury Hotels

Down by the riverside, a stunning new luxury hotel

Attitude, pool and living wall, 6.30 a.m.

The gal is often asked about trends in luxury hotels and one that is emerging is the giving of an entire floor to eatertainment, which includes the main swimming pool. Both at EAST Miami, Swire’s first owned-and-managed hotel in the USA, and at the equally exciting, and justly popular, Hyatt Regency, Cartagena, one double-height-floor is left open to the elements to allow the fresh breeze to waft through as guests swim, lounge around the pool, have a drink or eat food that is just right for today (Uruguayan at EAST Miami and Colombian-international at Hyatt Regency, Cartagena). The same is true of AVANI Riverside Bangkok, only here the eatertainment is rooftop of the 26-floor hotel.

AVANI soars above the older tiled-roof Anantara

There are many clever things about this hotel, owned by the canny and risk-taking Bill Heinecke of Minor Hotel Group. Look at its exterior, to the right. His seven-floor Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort is, as its name implies, right on the bank of the Chao Praya River. To one side was a helicopter pad – now a working organic herb and vegetable garden. Behind Anantara was a shopping mall. Take down the mall and build, in its stead, a 26-floor block. The first ten floors are parking, offices, banqueting. The 11th floor, which ‘ignores’ the Anantara in front of it to look straight over to the river, is a light and airy double-height glass-walled lobby and above are 248 bedrooms, all of which have uninterrupted river views.

Hooves, or Angus fritters with roast rice lime leaf…

AVANI means ‘earth’ in Sanskrit and the idea here is simple style. See the video below to see how light oak, lots of white, and big big windows make end suite 2001 seem, well, enormous. For even more of a space, head up to that 26th floor rooftop, Attitude, with its 90-foot infinity pool, and one whole living wall (I had been urged to be out there for 6.15 a.m. sunrise for the fabulous view but as luck would have it the sun was completely obscured by clouds that morning). Later in the day this is where Bangkok cognoscenti and hipsters gather, for one of mixologist Alexandre’s signature cocktails, say a Moulin Rouge of Absolut Raspberry and Prosecco, and snacks and dinner. One area of Attitude is bathed, at night, in day-glo fuchsia, as above.

Skyline, 8 a.m., Thomas Meier and Marion Walshe-Hédouin

I loved the menu, which includes Pierced dishes, namely things on skewers, like my Hooves, Angus fritters with roast rice lime leaf and chilli and lemongrass – those with deeper pockets might go for 24 Tsarsakaya oysters with Billecart-Salmon Champagne. Main courses are Below, namely seafood, and Above, for meats – I had a 200-gram Ahi tuna steak brushed with sesame soya and coriander. No space, sadly, to try a Mat Hatter dessert, crunchy atcha tea sponge with jasmine tea gel, iced tea sorbet and 24-carat gold. And then, of course, I had to breakfast at this new-look luxury hotel, where the 11th-floor Skyline Dining Restaurant flows out into the lobby’s shared high tables and into laze-back easy chairs. To be with Bill Heinecke’s colleagues Thomas Meier and Marion Walshe and, later, Alejandro Bernabe, was a real treat, and the conversation, and coffee, flowed at this most agreeable new-look luxury hotel. NOW SEE SUITE 2001, BELOW