55/555 Lang Suan Roadwww.hotelmusebangkok.com
Yes, we also deplore the overuse and underqualification of the term “boutique hotel,” but this decadent darling on Luang Suan Road is the real deal. All mirrors and metallic, Hotel Muse is dedicated to the artistic sensibilities of fin de siècle Europe and the Kingdom of Siam’s concurrent globally focused golden age, Occidental and Oriental, silver and gild. While we’re talking about spoils, Muse is smack in the middle of the city, with easy access to the ever-expanding Sukhumvit corridor, perennial Silom and the hotel strips of Ratchadamri and Sathorn. Best of all, the two-story roofdeck of The Speakeasy boasts a lawn, a cigar den and all kinds of amazing views.
Sofitel So, 2 North Sathorn Roadwww.sofitel-so-bangkok.com
Okay, okay. For legit pretty-people-watching, with a ridiculous view to boot, head to the glass-encased two-tiered porch of the new Sofitel So. Hotel roof bars don’t get much better than this, overhanging the city’s leafy green gem, Lumphini Park, and with a skyline that goes on and on. This is the it-set spot for sundowners, so we suggest ordering an extra dirty martini, reclining on a daybed, admiring the Christain Lacroix-bedecked staff, and taking in the bright young things chatting it up around you while you take in the bright lights of the big city as they twinkle on in the sunset.
394 Soi Thonglor, Sukhumvit 55 Roadwww.theironfairies.com
If your version of Neverland includes wrought-iron, moody jazz, delicious cheeseburgers, absinthe cocktails and tons of glitter spread over a dark and brooding three-and-three-quarters floors – yes, there’s a random balcony with a not-so-obvious access point hovering in the middle of everything – then flit to Iron Fairies as fast as your wings can fly you. Perth-born creator Ashley Sutton, who also built the kewpie-creepy Mr. Jones’ Orphanage dessert shops, says his mom never told him fairy tales as a kid and he dislikes drunk people. Well, the shockingly potent elixirs here might not improve his mood, but they’ll definitely help you deep-dive into his eccentric imagination.
33/28 Sukhumvit Soi 11www.apotekabkk.com
Here’s a terrific 2-for-1 deal: a pair of apothecary-themed bars specializing in everybody-knows-your-name service and music you can hear down the block. Apoteka Soi 11 does live jazz and/or blues every night, and you can listen to it from the long, couch-filled front porch or in one of the secret back nooks. The jam session’s not complete without a platter of nachos and one (or three) Vedett white beers. Some 22 blocks down Sukhumvit, Apoteka Thonglor alternates between request-taking DJs and live performances by local indie bands. Here, we suggest – nay, require – you to order the Gingnam Style ginger libation.
46/12-13 Sukhumvit Soi 49www.greasebangkok.com
There’s a floor for every mood at this multi-themed club that really shouldn’t work but somehow does, and, in fact, passes with flying colors. Quiet drinks and evening scheming take place on the ground level. The electric-tree- and pillow-filled roof is the breezy spot for smokers and recliners alike. See, be seen, and flirt the night away in the all-white, banquette filled room below. Or: take a breath (or something stronger) to prepare for an assault on your senses in the low-ceilinged dance floor filled with flashing lights and mirrored walls. For the visitor, Grease, tucked down several back sois, can be tough to find. But your effort shall be handsomely rewarded.
viva & aviv
Si Phraya Pier, River City Unit 118www.vivaaviv.com
The Chao Praya River is in many ways the heart of Bangkok, but for nightlife—not so much. And don’t get us started on why so many bar owners could possibly think we’d want to go drink in a mall. Viva&Aviv, however, is that rare find: a well-appointed, mixologist-mastered, actually cool bar with good tunes that opens out graciously from the back of a mall to a promenade on the river. Go at dusk and get the Kaffir & Co. rum brimming with, among other things, “young coconut and its cream.” And if you enjoy feeling superior (come on, admit it) to fashion-victim tourists parading to the embarkation points for their over-priced buffet dinner cruises, the people watching here is second-to-none.
Novotel Bangkok, 320 Silom Roadwww.novotelbangkoksilom.com
The claret-colored cabaret that is this hottest of spots in Bangkok right now is pan-generational Oriental opulence spanning the beginning of Pax Britannica through the Victorian era and right on up to James Bond’s forays into the Far East. This underground bar starts with a noodle shop and ends with two-way mirrors and steel-doored vaults – with Chinese paper umbrellas and cheongsam-sporting, seriously unperturbed ladies on swings in between. Sidle up to the casino bar for an on-theme cocktail. Or, better yet, grab a seat on a plush couch and watch all the drama unfold.
34 Sukhumvit Soi 11, behind Q Barwww.qbarbangkok.com
Absinthe is enjoying a moment in the City of Angels, and Le Derriere takes it full-on retro. Knock on the unmarked black door round the backside of Bangkok institution Q Bar and step into 1920’s gay Paree, complete with red-upholstered Baroque furniture, crumbly brick walls imported from France, and – the pièce de résistance – an antique four-spouted absinthe fountain that’s ready to spew forth sugarcube-and-fire glory. Chase the green fairy skyward, and she’ll lead your gaze to the gloriously open star-filled ceiling. This is one spot on Soi 11 where you’re sure to find the nattily-attired, the world-weary and the actually French. And we mean that in a good way.
37 Sukhumvit Soi 11www.bashbangkok.com
We admit to being mildly, er, bashful about this entry, but that’s because we’re writing this sober. In a city that officially closes a 2 a.m., we all too often find ourselves thanking our lucky stars for Bash, what with its late-night license and prime location in the middle of hopping Soi 11. When you’re not ready to head home, you’ll be perfectly happy to pay the cover or buy a bottle and keep your dancing shoes on for another few hours. This purple-hazed, multi-bar club is mercifully unpretentious, the DJs play everything from tribal house to trippy hip-hop. Oh, and did we mention the red-uniformed midget manning the old-school elevator?