Read our writer's views on this property below
I'm not sure if it's a normal evening at SO Sofitel, but giggling fills its corridors and bikini-clad girls and shirtless boys pack the lifts. Then the doors slide open to a surge of sound and glowing pink colour and the bright young things surge off to a pool party, leaving me to ascend further feeing rather flustered and a couple of decades too old.
But sexiness is seductive at any age, and SO Sofitel is fairly shameless about turning on the charm and sticking to low lighting; maybe nobody will notice my wrinkles. Staff that look as if they could moonlight as supermodels filled in my check-in forms as I quaffed a complimentary cocktail and gazed beyond lounge windows over a contemporary Bangkok twinkling with lights. Emerging from the lift, I find myself in a shadowy, minimalist corridor that I imagine could lead just as easily into a temple or the boudoir of a dominatrix.
Neither, as it happens, though the tease of possibilities is rather enjoyable. Instead I find my guestroom, designed around what purports to be a "soothing" water theme, though it might actually make the pulse go pitter-patter. (Other rooms take cues from the elements of earth, wood and air.) Black tiles smoulder on the wall, a huge white-leather bed invites mischief and a round sofa could comfortably fit two if curled sufficiently close. The circular bathtub is big enough for Hugh Hefner and six bunnies. Even the rain shower seems to demand naughtiness. The constellation of neon beyond bathroom windows makes me think of Scarlett Johansson in those scenes from Lost in Translation.
SO Sofitel's decor is the love child of flamboyant Frenchman Christian Lacroix and a cohort of Thai designers. The result is sophisticated Gallic sexiness and a welcome dose of Asian tranquillity and subtle design. Mythological Thai beasts hang from a lobby mobile, staff wear uniforms made from hill-tribe textiles and guardian warriors dot the executive lounge.
The hotel rises over Lumpini Park and high-rise Bangkok, titillating with the city's incessant bustle yet keeping it firmly outside. Perforated walls and wood panelling in public areas allow in light and city landscapes but, like the screens in a harem, convey a sense of peace and privacy. When I rise to the summit of the building, I find a rooftop restaurant and bar open to Bangkok's sultry humidity, yet seemingly floating in another and far cooler dimension. It would be the perfect setting for a film noir, in which a curvaceous, old-school blond in a raincoat might either pour me a martini or shoot me dead.
Your imagination can easily get carried away here. The SO brand sets out to distance itself from the already chic but more sedate Sofitel label with a bit of extra luxury and oodles more style, and it works in Bangkok. Guests are surprisingly young and, then I tiptoe down later to check the progress of the pool party, many of them are floating in the vast infinity pool, as beautiful as science-fiction Eloi.
This is one hell of a sexy, outrageously trendy hotel. Even guestroom amenities indulge in gentle innuendo. "Slip me on" commands the bag that holds night slippers. "Polish me", says a pot of shoe polish. "Ravish me!" ought to be the message left on the pillow at night. You couldn't check into a room like this, in a hotel like this, and not indulge in a bit of hanky-panky with your loved one.
Dim the lights, let the neon-glimmering view be your backdrop, and turn Casanova for the evening. After all, SO Sofitel has already prepared the love pad – all you have to do is rock up to be well on your way towards a night to remember.
Brian Johnston was a guest of SO Sofitel Bangkok.
SO Sofitel Bangkok sits beside Lumpini Park in downtown Bangkok. Its 237 rooms have four different decorative themes. Pool parties are held on the last Saturday of the month and cost 600 baht ($24). Rooms from around $360. Phone 1300 884 40, see so-sofitel-bangkok.com