Bangkok, Thailand; the city of lights, bustling streets, ornate temples and impressive malls — a wonderful mixture of the ancient and modern. This vibrant metropolis is truly a city like no other; and I had a crazy, yet wonderful few days experiencing Bangkok.
During my visit, I spent a few nights at the Shanghai Mansion Hotel, located in the heart of Bangkok’s Chinatown. I chanced upon the hotel while searching for unique boutique hotels in the city– and I have to say, the Shanghai-inspired theme of the hotel had me sold. Plus, I had a lovely stay at its sister hotel, the Burasari Phuket (You can read about it here) during my visit to Phuket; so I was expecting an equally luxurious stay here.
The Shanghai Mansion Hotel Bangkok provides a small sanctuary away from the chaos of Chinatown. With its sleek architecture, opulent furnishings and oriental decorations, stepping into the hotel is like being transported back in time to old world Shanghai.
The boutique hotel has 76 rooms in 4 categories: the Mei Hua Superior Rooms, the Ying Hua Deluxe Rooms, the Mu Dan Suites and the Family Room. Each room is decorated in antique furnishings with rich colors and fabrics, exuding the aura of the Chinese bygone era. My Ying Hua (Cherry Blossoms) room set me back about ฿3,000 (US$85) a night.
Bangkok’s Chinatown has got to be one of the city’s most intriguing neighborhoods– there’s always something interesting to be found at every corner. In the day, visit the many temples, markets and specialty shops; and admire its vast collection of historical buildings. Come night, the main strip bustles with visitors and lights–and it’s time to dine on seafood, Thai and Chinese fares, and delicious bird’s nest!
Shanghai Mansion is nestled amongst the many shophouses along Chinatown’s busy Yaowarat Road; so the neon lights, the restaurants, the roadside stalls, the throngs of people, and the never-ending flow of traffic is just a step outside the hotel.
Arriving at the Hotel
A little red bridge at the entrance of the hotel leads into the hotel lobby of the Shanghai Mansion Hotel. The lobby is modern and luscious, with only a little hint of its oriental theme from the touches of maroon and a painting of a Chinese woman in red.
Upon entering, I was greeted with warm Thai hospitality and offered a welcome drink. Despite a little trouble with my booking (the fault was on my side)– the staff were very understanding and accommodating, and quickly helped settle the problem. I was then guided to my room by my butler.
The Shanghai Mansion Experience
The first floor of Shanghai Mansion has a whole different atmosphere– this is where the charm of romantic Shanghai comes into play. There is a small fish pond in the center court, with 2 floors of rooms overlooking it. The walls are painted a vibrant yellow and red, and the high ceiling is adorned with colorful bamboo lanterns hanging above the water.
The walkways to the rooms are dimly lit, yet they radiate with grandeur with wooden and rattan furniture, and plush fiery-colored cushions. It is also decorated with small trinkets and antiques like old pictures, pots, and porcelain sets– I found an abacus on the table, and a guzheng (a Chinese string musical instrument). I loved these little attention to details.
Just like the olden Chinese houses, there is a huge signboard (with Chinese characters) above the Chinese vintage wooden doors of the rooms. The sign on my room read “fanrong”, which means prosperity. Other rooms have signs like happiness, longevity, nobility or wealth.
Inside my room, I was pampered with lush tapestry and silk, Chinese antiquities, red chandeliers and oriental beams. My bed was large and comfortable, and I especially enjoyed the huge bathtub in the middle of the room where I got to soak my tired feet in bubbles. The room also comes with complimentary wifi (it’s decent) and a free minibar. My only gripe– the absence of a window made it a little stuffy.
Things to Do
I didn’t spend much time in the hotel, as there are just too many things to do and see around Chinatown, and Bangkok. There are no trains running to this part of the city, so the hotel offers a scheduled tuk-tuk transfer to several attractions (only one way). But if you prefer to chill instead, Shanghai Mansion has an in-house spa and a library for you to while your day away.
Morning breakfasts are served at the Cotton Bar and Restaurant, which also offers food and drinks in the evenings, accompanied by live Jazz music. I opted not to have breakfast at the hotel, so I can’t comment on the food. I did however, spend an evening at the outdoor Terrace Bar for some soothing songs from the live band. It was a great way to kickback after a whole day of exploring Bangkok, and to step away from the hubbub of Chinatown.
At the End of the Day
I had a lovely time at the Shanghai Mansion Hotel. It is a unique hotel that brings you back to the glitz and glamour of old world Shanghai, but with a contemporary and personal touch. Walking through the hotel and staying in its oriental room made me feel like a noble from that 1930’s era– a gorgeous qipao (Chinese dress), a hand fan, a vogue hairstyle and red lipstick would have completed the look and feel!
The hotel may be a little off the normal tourist path and popular attractions in Bangkok– but if it’s Chinatown you want to experience, this is a great place to stay. You can sample a little of the Chinese culture in Shanghai Mansion, while immersing yourself in the buzz and excitement of Chinatown; and of course, its variety of delicious food.