At Capella Bangkok, the Chao Phraya river seizes centre stage. Whether artfully framed by floor-to-ceiling windows or meandering past the palm-fringed pool, there’s no question what the headline act is here. But that’s not to say Capella is content to sit back and let the location do the legwork – here, they sweat the small stuff, too. With tradition-steeped art to admire over bespoke brews at high tea, the jasmine-scented spa to unwind at and a detour to the French riviera to take via Côte, the latest venture of a three-Michelin-starred chef, it would be tempting to stay put permanently. Let the dedicated team of culture connoisseurs coax you into the city, though – guided gallivants to Bangkok’s best-kept secrets await.
Guests can check in and out any time they want, as long as the hotel isn't at full capacity. The in-room check-in and check-out service runs round the clock.
Double rooms from £445.02 (THB19,224), including tax at 17.7 per cent.
Rates don’t include breakfast, but for THB1,200 a person you can tuck into a selection of fresh pastries, hot Thai dishes and Western classics.
One wall of the tea lounge is draped with River of Gold by Thai textile artist Ploenchan ‘Mook’ Vinyaratn. The wave-like folds of fabric, woven with shimmering metallic threads, capture the Chao Phraya’s rich trading route past. Catch more of Mook’s work at the Louis Vuitton boutique in the Iconsiam shopping centre.
At the hotel
Spa with steam room, sauna, vitality pool and fitness programme, pool, gardens, courtyard, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV, bluetooth speaker, Nespresso coffee machine, minibar, free snacks, soft drinks and tea selection, bespoke Etoile de Siam bath products by Bottega.
Our favourite rooms
When every room has panoramic river views and a private balcony or verandah, picking a favourite is no mean feat. If pushed, we’d plump for the Verandah Suite – with acres of space and an outside Jacuzzi, it’s hard to beat. If you’re coming with a crowd, a Presidential Villa has two bedrooms, a living room and a dining room, plus a private garden and a Jacuzzi plunge pool, all right at the water’s edge.
Perched right by the river, the outdoor saltwater pool is surrounded by tropical trees and snooze-worthy loungers.
At the Auriga Wellness spa, treatments are tailor-made for a truly personalised pampering session. Chat to the expert therapists about your needs, or choose from a globe-trotting menu of signature experiences, then let them work their magic – knot-kneading massages, lemongrass-laced baths, soothing facials and more, all blending natural ingredients and ancient Asian rituals with modern, science-backed practices. The spa is set amongst lush tropical gardens, and there’s also a steam room, sauna and vitality pool to explore, but if you prefer, treatments can be enjoyed in-room, too. Feeling rejuvenated? You can also book in for a range of fitness classes, from Hatha yoga to HIIT workouts.
A fresh notebook and your favourite pen. With works of art, waterfront views and heaps of history to take in all around you, inspiration could strike at any moment.
The hotel has a lift, and all communal areas are wheelchair accessible. The Riverfront Suite is specially adapted for wheelchair access.
One petite pooch – weighing up to 10kg – a room is welcome. Dogs are allowed in Phra Nakhon, but they can’t be brought to Côte, Stella or the spa and they can’t be left unattended in rooms. See more pet-friendly hotels in Bangkok.
Little Smiths of all ages are welcome. Daily activities include kid-friendly crafts and classes, and babysitting is available upon request from THB2,000 for four hours.
As you’d expect from a hotel that takes such pride in its surroundings, Capella Bangkok doesn’t stint on its eco efforts. You won’t find any single-use plastic in the rooms or communal areas, all paper is recycled or FSC grade, and organic herbs and veg grown in the onsite greenhouse are used at both restaurants. The earth-friendly focus carries through to the in-house activities, too, from kite-making with sustainable materials to creating art from melted-down plastic bottle caps.
We’d say snag a table with a view, but round here that doesn’t narrow it down much. To watch the sunset in toe-dipping distance of the water, ask for a table on the terrace at Phra Nakhon. At Côte, sink into a chesterfield right by the window.
Take your cue from your surroundings – understated elegance, set off by a one-off accessory with a story behind it.
There are two restaurants at Capella. Phra Nakhon calls the light-flooded conservatory home, spilling out onto a leafy terrace right by the riverside. The traditional Thai menu is full of generations-old family recipes and flavours inspired by Chef Lek’s childhood in rural Thailand – think hot and hearty curries, caramelised noodles tossed with chicken and prawns and salads topped with herbs from the hotel’s greenhouse. There’s a plant-based menu, too, packed with spiced tofu and vibrant wok-fried veg.
Côte, the latest venture of three Michelin-starred chef Mauro Colagreco, brings the riviera to the banks of Bangkok’s River of Kings. A menu melding French and Italian influences, served in a chic dining room with seemingly endless sunlight – if it weren’t for Capella’s signature floor-to-ceiling windows centring the Chao Phraya river and the Bangkok skyline beyond, you might just mistake it for Cannes. Favourites include grilled foie gras with pomelo and pepper and beef fillet à l’anchois, but if you just can’t choose, bet on the carte blanche menu – a mystery, nine-course array of the chef’s personal recommendations.
Swirling marble, traditional murals and endless art-deco glamour converge at Stella, the hotel’s sultry boudoir bar. Pose with the white peacock centrepiece, presiding over her jewel-toned realm beneath the chandelier, then sip on craft cocktails inspired by coolest women of South Asian legend – the swashbuckling Red Flag Fleet, based on the capers of pirate queen Zheng Yi Sao, combines rum, long jing tea and spiced clove cordial. When the late-night nibbles strike, artisan patisserie chefs are waiting in the wings to whip up custom-made sweet treats.
Breakfast is served in Phra Nakhon from 6.30am to 11am. Lunch is available from 12pm to 3pm, and dinner from 6pm to 11pm. At Côte, lunch is served from 12pm to 2pm and dinner from 6pm to 9pm. Tipples and sweet treats are served at Stella from 6pm to 12am.
An extensive menu of Thai and Western dishes can be ordered to your room round the clock.
The hotel calls the east bank of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya river home. Just behind is the historic Charoen Krung Road, a hub of Thai culture and cuisine.
The nearest international hub is Suvarnabhumi Airport, a 40-minute drive from the hotel. Alternatively, flights from across South Asia touch down at Don Muang Airport, a 45-minute drive away. The hotel can arrange transfers for THB3,200 to THB3,800 for a one-way trip.
Saphan Taksin skytrain station is five minutes away by car. The hotel can arrange transfers on request.
Busy streets and daredevil local drivers can make driving difficult in Bangkok. Stick to public transport if possible – there’s the skytrain, subway, tuktuks, taxis and boats to choose from. If you do bring along your own wheels, there’s free valet parking at the hotel.
The hotel runs a free shuttle boat service to and from the Saphan Taksin skytrain station and the Iconsiam shopping centre.
Worth getting out of bed for
Pulling yourself out of bed is a pretty painless affair when there are panoramic river views to wake up to. Leaving your room, however, is another matter entirely, especially when breakfast on your private balcony is an option. If anything can lure you out, though, it’s surely the scent of steaming pots of herbal tea, wafting up from the living room. Snuggle up there on a river-facing sofa as you sketch out the day’s itinerary, or brush up on your craft or cookery skills with one of the expert-led masterclasses. Sleepy souls, you’re spoiled for choice. Swing by the spa for a stress-melting treatment tailored to your needs, join a guided meditation session or go for a sun-soaked paddle in the pool. And if that all sounds a bit too much, there are always the four-poster loungers, ready and waiting for a well-earned riverside snooze. If it’s adventure you’re after, the hotel’s culture experts have it covered. Whether you want to roam the district's storied streets on a boat and bicycle tour, meet and meditate with monks from the neighbourhood’s oldest temple, or take on a world champion at Muay Thai, just say the word – they’re seasoned string-pullers. Further afield, the Bangkok National Museum is home to a huge collection of age-old artefacts and traditional Thai art. And a glimpse of the glittering Wat Arun is a must – whether in the flesh or leaning against the railings of a rooftop bar is your call. Wherever the day takes you, toddle back for a cake-laden high tea in the tea lounge, then make a date with a paperback in the palm-shaded courtyard. Come dusk, craft cocktails and custom-made patisseries beckon in the bar.
For a taste of Thai fine dining, you won’t do better than Blue Elephant. If the high ceilings and carved teak panels of the colonial-era building don’t have you feeling like royalty, the food soon will. Gourmands flock there for the massaman lamb, but there’s a lengthy menu of pad thai, pomelo salads and French-influenced plates to choose from, too. For a feast fit for a king, plump for the seasonal tasting menu.
In a city as celebrated for its street food scene as Bangkok, it would be rude not to swing by a stall, or three. Top of your list should be Jok Pochana, an easy-to-miss institution on a tucked-away side street where Mr Lek and his team serve up steaming bowlfuls of curried crab and hunger-banishing helpings of fragrant fried rice.
Torn between haute cuisine and an on-the-hoof snack? For the best of both worlds, look no further than the tiny tiled kitchen helmed by Jay Fai, Thailand’s queen of street food who stir-fried her way to a Michelin star in 2017. Find a seat on the street outside and tuck into the seafood-stacked noodle bowls that secured her crown.
For a caffeine stop with the Bangkok cool crowd, head to Hands and Heart Café. It’s just as cosy as the name suggests – except cosy here means fresh pastries piled high in clear perspex cubes, cool marble benches scattered with monochrome cushions, and above all, the warming scent of single-origin, hand-brewed coffee.
Magic is on the menu at Featherstone. Shelves lined with jewel-hued glass bottles, mysterious drawers marked with brown-paper labels and sprawling wildflower bouquets give this boutique-come-cafe the air of an old-world apothecary. There’s an impressive menu of drip coffee and house blends, but if the setting has you itching to play alchemist, order the lavender soda – it’s served deconstructed, with flower-infused ice cubes to stir in as you sip.
For craft cocktails served against a glittering cityscape, Stella, the hotel’s opulent bar and patisserie, can’t be beaten. If you know where to look, though, the Bangkok bar scene is awash with local-secret spots – slip down the right unassuming side street and you’ll be treated to craft spirits and a celebration of the city’s many cultures. At Tep Bar, it’s all about ya-dong, a Thai herbal whisky that pairs perfectly with the nightly performances of traditional local music. Ask the bartenders about their tried-and-true family recipes, then head up to the roof for a birds eye view over Old Town.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this riverfront hotel in Thailand and unpacked their traditional silks and bespoke tea blend, a full account of their culture-brimming break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Capella Bangkok…
At first glance, Capella Bangkok couldn’t be more modern. For starters, there’s the glass, lots of it – floor-to-ceiling windows in every room, plus the restaurants, bar and spa, to be precise. Throw in the modern art-strewn minimalist interiors and the solid marble swoop of the spiral staircase, complete with a storey-spanning light installation, and you’d be forgiven for assuming that any inkling of yesteryear round here was, well, history.
Look closer, though, and the local community’s culture and history are as visible inside the hotel as the Chao Phraya river is right outside. Antique treasures and bespoke artwork representing the river’s gilded trading-route history pepper the soft neutrals of the tea lounge, but here a penchant for the past isn’t superficial. The in-house team of culture experts have scoured the city for the best local-secret spots, forging symbiotic friendships with a web of local characters along the way. Keen to hear a traditional khim performance by budding musicians from the school down the road? They can sort it. Meditation masterclass with a monk from the centuries-old temple next door? Say no more. Capella Bangkok is a thoroughly modern affair, no doubt about it. But don’t be blinded by the bells and whistles – it’s also a gateway to the historic neighbourhood it calls home.