It will come as no surprise to long term readers that I never miss a chance to spend a weekend in The Big Mango. As much as I love my island life in Thailand, I can’t seem to stay away from this city.
Photo by Leah Davis
After wine weekend in Khao Yai wrapped up, I’d planned to squirrel my Koh Tao BFF Janine off to Bangkok for a girly weekend of yoga, massage and brunches. Of course, in true Thailand fashion, pretty soon not only was the entire wine weekend crew sticking around, but a few others were coming to join too. The more the merrier — we ended up with a group of fourteen!
Our base camp (for ten of us, anyway) was the Amari Watergate, a hotel I’d actually been to before for a midnight fun run a few years prior — but never actually stayed in. I’d met some of the Amari crew at TBEX Bangkok at the end of 2015 and I was looking forward to taking them up on their offer to check out some of their hotels — starting with the Amari Watergate.
Photo by Leah Davis
Photo by Leah Davis
Janine and I were spoiled rotten with an Executive Suite on the club level, with our friends checking into various other room categories. We loved having so much space for our crew to drop in and out as they pleased!
Note: Tragically, I lost all my photos from the day we checked in due to a serious of technological mishaps. Luckily, my friends Leah from The Sweetest Way and Kate from Adventurous Kate have both stayed at the Amari as well and generously offered to let me swipe some of their room photos — check out their posts for even more angles of this beautiful hotel!
Photo by Kate McCulley
Photo by Kate McCulley
Photo by Leah Davis
I was almost a little sad we had such a busy three nights planned — I wouldn’t have minded just kicking it in this room for seventy-two hours. I mean, can you blame me? Just check out that tub!
Photo by Kate McCulley
Photo by Kate McCulley
One of the perks of being on the club level was a daily happy (two!) hours during which we could sip on complimentary wine, cocktails, and beer, and nibble on free snacks. It was a really nice perk, and a lovely way to kick off the evening. And we never went thirsty — at any time of day we could pop by the lounge and grab complimentary sodas, juices, tea and coffee.
There was also a standard happy hour down by the pool which we checked out as well. The Amari Watergate pool is unlike any other I’ve been to in Bangkok, which tend to be sleek, rooftop infinity affairs. The lagoon-style here was a refreshing change.
And yet I think the best thing about the Amari at any room level (aside from the gym and spa, which I’ll get to soon!) is the location. The Amari Watergate is across the street from some of the best shopping in Bangkok, from the high-end malls of Siam to the market-like Platinum Center where clothes and accessories can be snapped up at wholesale prices, and the overwhelming Pantip Center where electronics can be had for a song.
On our first night back in Bangkok we took advantage of our location to stroll across the street and meet our friends staying elsewhere at Red Sky bar, the dramatic rooftop of the Central World Mall. I’d been here once before and loved the wild, color-changing arch and was excited to show it to the soon-to-be birthday girl. Unfortunately, we hit a snag.
Bangkok bars are obsessed with footwear, and it’s not unusual for a hostess to shamelessly lean right over the podium to see what’s on your feet before so much as saying hello to you. Flip flops are often not allowed, regardless of the fact that they are pretty much the standard issue uniform of Southeast Asia. So despite the fact that we were dressed to the nines, the Red Sky team wouldn’t allow our group onto the roof since a few of the girls had on nice pairs of Havianas — even when we offered to get bottle service. Oh well.
They generously allowed us to spend our money in the downstairs bar, however. Since we was wearing sandals, Janine and I went to the roof to have on drink and grab our friends who were already there to bring them downstairs. And that’s when I got really riled up, guys… because I saw people in CROCS AND ZIP OFF PANTS. You want to class the place up a bit and draw the hard line on high-end, designer metallic flip flops? Fine, fair enough. But you simply cannot then allow Croc-clad tourists in adventure vests to waltz around the place like it’s fashion week!
At least you all know what to pack now to get past the doorman at Red Sky.
Back at Amari the next morning, the birthday girl and I enjoyed breakfast in the exclusive Executive Lounge and laughed over our misadventures from the night before. The city views were almost as delicious as the crazy breakfast spread before us. We also discussed our plans for the day, since we’d learned a little too late that our big dreams for the day were definitely not going to happen.
You see, the Buddhist calendar in Thailand is chock full of days when alcohol sales are somewhat restricted, and they are tough to keep track of since the dates are based on the lunar calendar and thus change every year. With most of them, however, you can find a drink if you’re desperate at hotel bars and fine restaurants and certain above-the-law establishments. There are one or two however, that are so important that not a single bar dares keep its doors open. And as we’d discovered with just two days warning, Janine’s birthday was one of them this year. Whoops.
So that day, with our dreams of mimosas at a favorite brunch café crushed, we decided to head to the mall and to the movies. After some shopping and food court hopping, Ian and I were quick to recommend our new obsession the Blue Ribbon Theater. For many of our friends it was their first time at the best screen scene in Bangkok, and we loved showing them the ropes! While I wasn’t a fan of the movie the group decided on — Deadpool, ugh — I still had a blast. Once you go Blue, you never go back.
Back at the suite, we toasted to our good fortune. Sure, it wasn’t the birthday we’d planned (which had involved a river-side beer garden and a ride around the ferris wheel at Asiatique!) but we couldn’t have been luckier with our Plan B. We were in beautiful suite surrounded by good friends, cake, a gorgeous city skyline and the cases of wine and champagne we’d stocked up on the night before. In retrospect, we couldn’t have asked for a better night.
The next morning, Janine and I were up early to hit the gym and relax at the spa… basically, to start her next spin around the sun in style.
Now, I’m not being hyperbolic when I saw that the Amari Watergate has perhaps the most extensive gym at any hotel I’ve ever stayed at… possibly anywhere. An enormous weights room, a bocce ball court, and ten classes per week were all on the menu, though sadly the class we rose for happened to be cancelled that morning. But as a group exercise addict I was serially impressed to see a schedule with classes in step, aero boxing, yoga, aerobics, and more.
After our workout, we made our way to the Breeze Spa. Janine and I have a regular weekly spa date, and so it was only fitting that for her birthday trip we took our usual routine and cranked it up a notch.
After much deliberation we chose the Lift Off Package, which included an hour long massage, a fifteen minute foot ritual, and a forty-five minute wrap or scrub. The treatments started with an energizing juice shot and a cool towel as we tested various massage oils and scrubs — I went with the mango sticky rice scrub and I was so infatuated with it I bought not one but two bottles of the stuff on the way out. As much as I love spa outing I literally never buy the products, so this was a huge deal.
Our treatments were fantastic! And on the way out, we had more treats waiting for us — hot teas and green tea macarons. Yum! Hands down, I think this was my highlight of the weekend. I loved having some solo girl time in a busy few days full of friends and frenzy, and I absolutely adored the entire Breeze experience, from the chic branding to the good-enough-to-eat products to the quality of the treatments.
Even if I was staying elsewhere, I’d come back to the Amari just for treatments at Breeze. It’s my new go-to in Bangkok when I’m looking for something a little more special that a cheap streetside foot rub.
That night, we caught back up with the full crew again for dinner at a restaurant I’d long awaited a visit to — Peppina. There are a couple outposts of the chic eatery now, but we headed to the flagship location on Sukhumvit Soi 33. The speciality of the house is Neapolitan pizza, though salads and other Italian treats round out the menu.
While I can’t say the service was all that stellar, in their defense we were a huge group and we didn’t give them tons of notice we were coming. Still, the food was fantastic, we had a blast, and I can’t wait to check out their new pop-up location — in The Commons in Thonglor, for all my fellow Bangkok addicts out there.
the whole crew… almost!
After dinner, it was one final night out in the big city! Ian and I led a bar crawl along our favorite Thonglor bars, starting at the steampunk Iron Fairies before winding our way to Thai hipster favorite Bad Motel, and eventually capping off the night at one of my favorite rooftops in Bangkok, the vertigo-inspiring Octave (if you have a sweet tooth like me, don’t miss the mango sticky rice martini — you’ll thank me later!)
Janine sampling “The Barf Bag,” Bad Motel’s version of a Long Island Iced Tea
The next day I’d have a full schedule of errands to run, including procuring my Brazilian visa, getting my quarterly fix of Coldstone Creamery, and doing some festival shopping in anticipation of Tomorrowland Brasil. But on this night, I said a wistful goodbye to Bangkok. It would be my last time in the city for a long while, and it’s not an easy one to leave in the rearview. But it couldn’t have been a better sign off.
Next stop, Hua Hin!
Many thanks to Amari Watergate for their hospitality. As always, you receive my honest opinion regardless of who is footing the bill.
This hotel looks like a dream! I’ve been a long time reader of yours and thanks to your blog, in two short weeks I’ll be jet setting to Thailand! After a short few days in Bangkok, I’ll be heading straight to Roctopus to get PADI certified! Excited is an understatement. Can’t wait to try out some of these bars and see the places I’ve been reading about here!
That is so exciting Tori! Hope you are loving it. Very happy the sun is shining for you!
Your blog makes me want to go to Bankok more and more! Looks like an amazing weekend, with great company. I especially love the spa you went to, so cool.
That was my highlight 🙂 Or was it Peppina, or Octave, or… okay, there were a lot of highlights. A great weekend all around!
Everything I read your articles about Bangkok I realise how little I’ve seen and how much of a pity that is! Im seriously considering to go back soon just to get to know the city a bit better. I’m not liking the way we left things off!
I’m Bangkok’s number one fan so you’ll only hear encouragement from me 🙂 I really need to get around to writing a full guide one of these days!
As I read and saw the photos all I could think was nice, very nice in fact
That pretty much sums it up 🙂 Thanks Jo-Anne!
Ahaha, Alex you really tickled me with your crocs comment. SO MUCH MORE OFFENSIVE than flip flops, never mind metallic havainas! Also, Janine’s choice of drink at the Bad Motel was umm…brave? Personally I would not want to tempt fate!
What can I say, she’s a real go getter! 😉 We were just so intrigued by the presentation, we had to check it out. Big belly laughs all around when it arrived!
Crocs…ha! I’ll be sure to pack mine next time I want to go clubbing 🙂
I mean to be fair they’d probably be a lot more comfortable than some of the heels I’ve shoved myself into over the years!
I loved the Amari Watergate! Especially that happy hour and the breakfast buffet, the views from that top floor lounge were spectacular! Looks like a fun birthday in spite of the holiday 🙂
Thanks for sharing your photos 🙂 Yes in the end I think it was a blessing in disguise… less hassle of being out and about and more time to enjoy our suite and each other. What more could a birthday girl ask for!
Ah, this could not be more perfect timing! I’m currently relaxing in Thai island paradise, but my family and I are heading back to Bangkok for NYE! This Spa looks exactly like something my mom and I would die over 😀 And definitely bookmarking the movie theater too! Looks like I have a lot of exploring to do in Bangkok 🙂
That’s awesome Eva! Let me know if you and your mom head to Breeze… I have a feeling you will absolutely love it. Sounds like the perfect New Year’s day treat!
Have you been to Bagan, Myanmar yet? I was just back from there last week and write something like you. That great! Have fun!
I have not… not yet! One of these days, I will! 🙂
The hotel looks elegant. Love the ambiance too. I was in Bangkok last year for Songkran Festival. Awesome celebration.
I’d love to celebrate Songkran in Bangkok someday. Hard to pull myself away from Koh Tao, though 🙂
You should. It was absolutely fun. Playing water gun in Chitlom. Starts around 2pm. most will happen on second week of April. Beware when you walk under the BTS sky train. They will just pour water at you. Or pick up truck, they will just wine down the window to just splash at you. 🙂 haha
Yup, Sonkgran is definitely a no-mercy holiday! I love it!
This looks fabulous! I’d have to check out the hotel when we visit Bangkok.
It was so much fun. Perfect hotel for a group!
Bangkok is my favourite city in the world – there is such a buzz about the place. I especially like it down by the river and the Amari Watergate looks beautiful. I shall look into staying here on my next visit to Bangkok. Great post!
If you like traveling via the canals, Amari Watergate is the perfect place to stay! Breeziest way to travel in Bangkok 🙂