Sunday, 20 November 2011

Inspirational Muse

Hotel Muse on Ploenchit Road, Lumpini

After an overnight flight in economy class, any old bed looks good to a weary traveller. But to fall into an oversized cloud with crisp white sheets and plump pillows is very sweet indeed, the perfect antidote to the drudgery of getting from A to B.

Seriously, I don’t want to leave this bed. Ever. Though that claw-footed bathtub in the black marble bathroom is also beckoning...

The bed!

The heaven I’ve ascended to is on the 11th floor of Muse Hotel in Bangkok, the latest offering on the city’s luxury 5-star scene. And what a scene-stealer it is. Opened in September during a less-than-auspicious moment in Bangkok’s history – on the eve of the worst flooding in 50 years, and at the cusp of a miserable economic time globally – Muse, on upmarket residential Lang Suan Road (a short walk from Chitlom BTS), has rapidly become the place to be seen, the hippest, most fashionable address in the city.

In terms of aesthetics, Muse makes quite the statement. A clean, Deco-inspired street frontage belies the lavishness of its lobby, an opulent fusion of Rama V Siam and fin de siecle Europe, with lashings of teak, black marble, flocked velvet and wrought iron tempered by mood lighting and a sombre colour palette. Chandeliers draped in gold silk net, oil paintings in heavy frames, cow-hide scatter rugs and oversized Chesterfields create a gothic ‘granny’s parlour’ ambience, kooky and over-the-top, but also warm and welcoming.

Muse lobby

Guest rooms are equally beguiling; a blend of high tech modern (41 inch flat screen TV, iPod docking station) and classic European (etched Venetian mirrors, hand-painted wash basins, roll-top claw-footed bath and a chest of draws resembling luggage from the golden age of travel). Then, of course, there’s that king-sized bed, voluminous and inviting with crisp embroidered linen and a mountain of pillows...

On the 19th floor, there’s a small infinity pool with fabulous skyline views, a fitness room and the hotel’s Thai restaurant Su Tha Ros (helmed by Bangkok’s only female executive chef, Purida Teerapong). There’s no spa – why bother in a city drowning in massage joints?; while the basement is occupied by Medici, the hotel’s signature Italian restaurant. Reasonably priced and with authentic, rustic Tuscan cuisine, this is currently Bangkok’s hottest night spot, totally booked out on any given night.

Outdoor pool in evening glow

According to GM Bodo Klingenberg, the hype surrounding Muse (and Medici) was a fortunate consequence of extreme adversity, with drastically reduced rates, special promotions and an aggressive advertising campaign during the flood crisis luring celebrities and style icons through its doors. This highly irregular approach – hitting the local market first, creating a buzz, then capitalising on its hipper-than-thou reputation – certainly seems to have worked; in an already overcrowded hotel market (and with 18,000 new beds slated for 2012), Muse is impossible to ignore.

And there’s more to come. Still to open is its rooftop venue, The Speakeasy, with intriguing nooks and crannies replicating a prohibition-era drinking hole. Designed over two levels, it will feature a cigar lounge, library, a terrace bar and a rooftop lawn with expansive views over Bangkok’s city skyline. Guaranteed, this will be the place for sunset cocktails and late night parties. Can’t wait for this piece of inspiration.

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