The National - Asian elegance delivered on a silver platter
October 1, 2011

The welcome
Guests sweep up the driveway into a grand ground-level hall before taking the lift up to the 12th-floor lobby; the transition might dilute some urban buzz but it does build on the sense of exclusivity. Upstairs it is all about the outstanding views with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the 110-year-old Royal Bangkok Sports Club and classical Thai architecture of Chulalongkorn University. On arrival seriously attentive butlers escort guests directly to their room offering to unpack bags, run a bath and make a pot of tea.

The neighbourhood
Prime real estate on Ratchadamri Road within walking distance of some serious shopping options at the Paragon Mall and Siam Square. Plus, the hotel sits immediately next to a mass transit Skytrain station - with a bridge directly from the lobby to ticket counters - making it easy to move around town elevated above the congested streets. The central location means it is a quick hop to the Grand Palace, Buddhist temple Wat Arun and Chao Phraya River. Don't miss JJ weekend market, the best place in Asia to find trinkets and treasures.

The service
So polished it gleams. The signature St Regis butler service means nothing is left undone, with round-the-clock personal attention for every guest. I even came across my butler - who was aware of the time of my spa appointment - waiting by the elevators on my floor in order to accompany me downstairs to the 15th floor "in case you were not sure of your way after your long flight", he discreetly added.

The room
Spanning floors 12 through 24 of a 47-storey building, there are 227 rooms and suites. The higher, the better. Like in the hotel's public areas, the USP is the views and abundance of natural light. But I also adored the St Regis king beds and luxurious downy comforters.

The scene
The hotel is already popular with a business clientele, but that may broaden when word gets around of the property's unbeatable location, the phenomenal views from the bar, and the expansive Elemis spa with its 15 treatment suites and luminous skin treatments. Bangkok's immaculate "HiSo" (high society) will come soon, too; they're always seeking a new place to lunch.

The food
Downstairs, Jojo serves up rich traditional Italian: order the Cipriani-style carpaccio for THB470 (Dh55) followed by fettuccine alfredo served tableside in a wheel of Castelmagno cheese for THB450 (Dh53), and finally the tiramisu for THB350 (Dh41). That is, if you can walk past Zuma, sister of the London original, and which may turn out to be this city's most desirable Japanese restaurant, too. During the daytime, Viu is the place to settle for a long Sunday lunch - don't miss the pomelo shrimp salad for THB260 (Dh31) - with panoramic views of the horse races at the Royal Bangkok Sports Club. By night the St Regis Bar boasts astonishing views from its outdoor terrace, as well as live jazz.

The views - possibly the best of any hotel in Bangkok; the Elemis spa - the first in South East Asia; the highly professional team of butlers anticipating guests' every need.

The split lobby effect kills the buzz, and like many five-star international hotel brands, it does seem to lack a sense of place; we could equally be in Beijing or Singapore.

The verdict
The St Regis has joined the club as one of the finest places to stay in Bangkok. It might take time to be the top choice for first-time visitors to the city, who might still prefer to be riverside at the Mandarin Oriental or at the gold-standard Peninsula, but it is an elegant choice for anyone looking to be in the very heart of the city.