STOP the presses. The fading glories of books and printing receive a retro-chic resurrection at Bangkok Publishing Residence, an intimate eight-room hotel that opened last year in the former offices of Bangkok Weekly magazine. The atrium-like four-storey structure features throwback factory architecture - catwalks, exposed girders, a wire-cage lift that resembles a freight lift - and common areas decorated with old printing machines and vintage typewriters.
The result is a wondrous world that Willy Wonka might have created if he had been hooked on books rather than sweets.
Though centrally situated along a busy multi-lane boulevard, the hotel is soundproofed and feels insulated from the hubbub, thanks in part to its hushed, candlelit spaces and policy of admitting only hotel guests on the premises. Bangkok landmarks including the Golden Mount and Democracy Monument are five to 10 minutes on foot, while popular neighbourhoods like Chinatown and Khao San Road are a short taxi ride away. Alas, there is no nearby sky-train or subway.
Noë* Coward, Oscar Wilde and other bygone British dandies would have loved my cosy and elegant room, a Regency remake with panelled wooden doors, dark wooden furnishings, a luxurious sleigh bed and black silk robes for lounging. Should literary inspiration strike, the dresser transforms into a writing desk, and the hotel desk can provide blank notebooks and pens embossed with the hotel name. Gadgets like a Nespresso maker and flat-screen television ensure 21st-century comfort.
Somewhere between a Manhattan subway station and a colonial lodge, the small, but appealing bathroom, was lined with white rectangular tile and wood-slat blinds over the windows. The shower was big enough to host an editorial meeting, but a tub would have been more conducive to scribbling and reading. The hotel-brand shampoo and shower gel are made with Thai white charcoal, a substance said to “emit negative ions, that increase your sense of well-being”, according to the overwrought text in the room’s guest services guide.
Crowded rooftop bars fill this teeming tall city.
The hotel bucks the trend with a private and lushly planted rooftop garden, complete with fruit trees, a small library lounge and a whirlpool tub. You can grab a banana (from the source), a best-seller (Charles Dickens, Stephen King, Agatha Christie) and plunge into cool, bubbly waters as you plunge into fictional worlds.
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well,” as Virginia Woolf wrote in A Room of One’s Own. Alas, it seems that Bangkok Publishing Residence missed that week of book club: The hotel has no restaurant, and the mini-bar offers just some small packets of candies, nuts and sliced fruits, along with water and juice. Bangkok Publishing Residence does have a kitchen, however, and a copious breakfast of eggs, meats and fruits staves off total hunger.
Whether you fall under the spell of the hotel’s vintage factory fantasia will depend on what price you put on style, service and seclusion - the hotel’s calling cards. The place should find avid fans among solitary bibliophiles, cocooning couples, design-magazine devotees and former publishing barons nostalgic for the heyday of print. But for anyone seeking bodily pleasures - gastronomic indulgence, spa treatments, fitness workouts - the price-to-payoff ratio is steep. - New York Times