Bangkok - Awakening to views from the upper storeys of the Oriental Residence, you might believe you'd died and gone to Manhattan. The tree-thronged gardens of the embassy compounds, framed by shimmering skyscrapers, are positively Central Park. From here you get an alternative perspective of the city to the frenzy of street-level downtown Bangkok.
The newest addition to Wireless Road's ambassadorial enclave is the 32-storey Oriental Residence. This gleaming project comes from the owner of Bangkok's landmark deluxe hotel, the Mandarin Oriental. But don't dare call the Oriental Residence a hotel - these are serviced suites. Yet, in the few months since opening, reviews have seen it storm to No 3 among TripAdvisor's short-stay favourites in Bangkok.
Oriental Residence's luxurious tentacles reach out to Suvarnabhumi Airport, where guests are eased into a Jaguar XJS and given an iPad to play with for the 45-minute transfer (for 4,000 baht/R1 000). Indeed, the marble-floored, chandelier-draped lobby you arrive at has a hint of luxury-car showroom. There's no hanging around though; your arrival is anticipated by staff ready to whisk you away into the one-, two- or three-bedroom suites. Passport formalities are completed in your living room.
Throughout the property, the neutral (lashings of cream) decor and almost total absence of interior ornamentation, most notably in anodyne corridors between rooms, conveys serenity rather than fashionable minimalism. Yet Oriental Residence is not without frills and thrills. Its two restaurants are zesty additions to the city's exciting culinary scene.
Café Claire, the ground-floor brasserie, melds Francophone and US-diner influences and is already attracting Bangkok's brunch-time smart set. “Your usual beverage, sir?” asked the waitress on my second morning's breakfast. Such attention to detail reflected the Residence's service.
For dinner, the funky Mandopop Restaurant draws a younger and largely non-resident crowd with its interior sensuously lit by twinkling blue table lights. The fourth floor, meanwhile, is given over to a “Playdeck”: essentially a small gym and a swimming pool with an open façade.
Introductory rates ensure this is an outstandingly good-value bolthole for urbanites in pursuit of world-class shopping and fabulous cuisine prepared to do battle with downtown's ferocious traffic, raucous din and jostling crowds.
Situated in Wireless Road's relatively sedate embassy district, Oriental Residence is handy for the BTS Skytrain network serving Bangkok's tourist highlights. Phloen Chit station is an easy 10-minute stroll, while a complimentary shuttle bus to Chit Lom station takes five minutes.
From Chit Lom, an aerial skywalk links the mega-malls of CentralWorld, Siam Paragon and MBK, hosting everything from authentic and faked designer brands to buzzy food courts. In the opposite direction is the infamously exhibitionist Sukhumvit: swarming with gourmets, tourists spilling out of seedy go-go bars, and never-ending markets of tat. To get away from it all, stroll 10 minutes south down Wireless Road to lovely Lumphini Park.
Go for a one-bedroom suite with balcony: the floor-to-ceiling windows ensure the suite's already whopping proportions feel even airier.
Thailand's leading luxury interior retailers, Chanintr Living, conceived the mellow decor, with polished homeliness in mind. The living room's dark hardwood flooring is warm underfoot and the comfortable (cream, of course) fabric sofa is long enough to stretch out on while enjoying the 34in flat-screen television and complimentary Lavazza coffee. An iPod docking station plus fast Wi-Fi enhance entertainment options.
Other than using it to shell rambutans from the complimentary fruit bowl, the fully equipped kitchenette might seem redundant. But guests can rent the resident chef for an hour for a private lesson preparing their very own Thai meal (3,000 bah).
The bathroom again communicates thoughtful luxury, featuring a deep bath, vanity table and powerful walk-in shower, with cleansing products from Penhaligon's of London.
110 Wireless Road Bangkok, Thailand
(00 66 2125 9000; oriental-residence.com)
Doubles from 7,298 baht, suites from 8,357 baht, B&B. - The Independent