Wham, bam, thank you, nahm. This subdued, 169-room boutique-style modern Bangkok institution has been undeniably defined by nahm, its signature in-house Thai restaurant conceived by stellar Australian chef David Thompson. So much so that the excellent hotel of which it is a central part can be a little overlooked at times. A former YMCA, would you believe, COMO Metropolitan Bangkok (let's call it The Metropolitan from here on in) has developed a faithful following among the discerning creative set after a more low-key but genuinely five-star Bangkok hotel experience.
The hotel claims to be in Bangkok's central business district but, as most regular visitors to the Thai capital are aware, this is a chaotic sprawling, unplanned megacity with no true centre. Not to worry. The Metropolitan, about 40 minutes, if you're lucky, from Suvarnabhumi International Airport, is on South Sathorn Road, and is about as central as you can get here. It's close to some of the city's best shopping, one of its few sizeable public parks and, of course, what hotels prefer to euphemistically refer to as its "entertainment areas" (read: fleshpots). Stations for Bangkok's highly efficient blissfully air-cooled Skytrain system – one of Bangkok's enduringly best assets – are about a 10-minute walk away in Silom. But even closer to the hotel is one of Bangkok's best-kept secrets, its MRT underground train network that whisks you to or within reach of many of its major attractions and neighbourhoods.
Unlike its flashier counterparts, the Metropolitan impresses not with a cavernous, chandelier-studded marbled lobby but with restrained modern Thai elegance right down to its own compact lobby and staff clad in Comme des Garcon-designed uniforms (oh, and shoes by Calvin Klein). The latter is a nice touch, except, perhaps, when you arrive dishevelled in crumpled inferior designer wear after the long flight from home.
The rooms were designed by Kathryn King, a Singaporean "interior architect", with the smallest starting at 26 square metres. I've scored a spacious Metropolitan Suite. At up to 54 square metres, the room is decked out in dark timber flooring and Thai and oriental antiques with all of the amenities you'd expect from this standard hotel. There's separate walk-in rainforest shower and always-appreciated complimentary Wi-FI.
Nowadays the much-in-demand David Thompson, more or less a celebrity in the global culinary firmament, is conspicuous by his absence at nahm with the restaurant under the reliable stewardship of Chris Miller, a fellow expatriate Australian. Opened in 2010, nahm was rated No. 28 on the 2017 World's 50 Best Restaurants and is known for its unadulterated commitment to authentic Thai ingredients and flavours in its frequently fiery dishes. Lunchtimes are a good option with a lighter and shorter version of the dinner menu on offer. Although nahm dominates, the Metropolitan also features the Met Bar as well as healthy food options inspired by the hotel's famed COMO Shambala spa brand.
From here, Bangkok is your oyster (or, perhaps more accurately, your mango). It's easy to get seduced by city's concrete jungle shopping and dining districts but, really, the main street of the Big Mango is its Chao Phraya River. And one of Bangkok's best deals is a cheap all-stops ferry ride along what is one of the world's most frenetic urban waterways.
Como Metropolitan Bangkok is an astute choice for the traveller to the Thai capital who wants a discreet luxury hotel delivered with subtlety and panache and with the unrivalled bonus of one of the world's best Thai eateries.
Doubles from Thai Baht 3740. Como Metropolitan Bangkok, 27 South Sathorn Road, Tungmahamek Sathorn, Bangkok. Ph +66 2 625 3300; comohotels.com/metropolitanbangkok
Even after all these years, a stay at the hotel is not complete without a meal at nahm.
It can be difficult to secure a taxi to the hotel at busy times. Best to opt for public transport, including the handily nearby underground train station.
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