Just as one waits ages for a bus only to have three come along at once, so Bangkok finds itself surfeited these days with boutique hotels. For many years, the Thai capital was bereft of the welcome alternative these fashionable little properties provide to the big chain hotels or the flophouses of Khao San Road and it's still anyone's guess why so many have opened now.
ARUN RESIDENCE: Housed in a beautifully restored 80-year-old building, this riverfront property, www.arunresidence.com, has just five rooms because co-owner Piyanuj Ruckpanich wants every window to open to a view of the famed Wat Arun, or Temple of Dawn. The noise from the Chao Phraya might frustrate light sleepers, but the views of this watery thoroughfare especially from the patio of the Arun Suite are too enjoyable
to pass up. So is a dinnertime reservation at the Deck, the hotel's Thai and Western restaurant. Peruse the menu of chef Thanunya Kaikaew, who has a cookbook of healthy recipes to her name, and take in the fabulous sunset.
THE EUGENIA: This 12-room, colonial-style Sukhumvit gem, www.theeugenia.com, doubles as an antiques repository for Taiwanese owner and Bangkok resident Eugene Yeh. Those are Yeh's hand-beaten copper bathtubs and four-poster beds in the rooms, and his vintage cars in the garage. These and other thoughtful touches including complimentary minibars and free wi-fi access will have you feeling quite at home. A cozy cigar lounge-cum-library, beds adorned with Belgian linen and down-filled pillows, and a swimming pool rare in a property this size make it even harder to leave.
PHRANAKORN NORNLEN: Not so much a boutique hotel as a backpacker hostel done right, the 50-room Phranakorn Nornlen, www.phranakorn-nornlen.com, wins the approval of its bearded, tie-dye clientele by incorporating recycled materials in almost every aspect of the fittings. Showerheads are hammered together from brass dessert bowls; remaindered tins of mismatching emulsion from the local paint shop give the walls a dappled charm; lamps are acquired from thrift stores. The location (a kilometer from Khao San Road) and housekeeping rules are equally boho: there's no smoking on the property, no TV in the rooms and organic juices are served at breakfast.
LUXX: This newly opened property, www.staywithluxx.com, is the brainchild of ex-financier Dusadee Srishevachart, who transformed a dingy, five-story shophouse off Silom Road into one of Bangkok's hottest addresses. A cold, sparse lobby overdoes the minimalism, but beautiful timber flooring, luxurious beds and cute wooden bathtubs bring warmth to Luxx's 13 guest rooms (choose between one-room suites with courtyard views or standard rooms with small balconies, and only opt for a high floor if you don't mind doing without an elevator). There are plenty of dining options in the neighborhood, but if you're eating breakfast in-house, the hotel's Mexx restaurant serves modern American fare.