The Hedonist: Bangkok

What to see and where to be seen

I'm in Bangkok atop the Lebua Hotel on the 63rd floor of the State Tower, where the appropriately named Sky Bar (00 66 2624 9999;
lebua.com) is proving to be the perfect launch-pad for an evening of Asian-style hedonism. The sprawling, traffic-choked city spreads out like a sleeping spider around us, the fading sunlight flickering behind the haze and smog as it sinks in the south. Then, all at once, as if by the power of some gigantic master switch, a million neon lights illuminate the city.

It's this electrifying 360-degree backdrop that pulls in the surprisingly mixed crowds here: Asian businessmen talking more to their BlackBerrys than to their Chanel-clad, pearl-loving wives; chino-wearing Euro families with big hair and even bigger bank accounts ordering thick slabs of Wagyu beef for children who've been eating sushi since birth; Brit couples smooching over cocktails, poring over torch-lit menus and pretending they eat like this all the time; lost travellers who look as surprised as everyone else that they've made it through the door with their backpacks and string beads... and us, of course.

We sink a couple of cocktails – the Eastern-influenced Sky Cosmo goes down particularly well – before sweeping up the staircase towards the dome that crowns the building and dining within the clean, contemporary confines of Mezzaluna restaurant instead of al fresco Sirocco. On such a balmy night, air-conditioned interiors are a welcome respite from the warm breeze outside.

It is here, amid floor-to-ceiling glass windows and against a backdrop of a classical quartet, that we are treated to a sumptuous six-course tasting menu designed to please the palette of even the most well-travelled tongue. And it does, with highlights that include a starter of osetra caviar with radish, watercress and robiola cheese paired with a 2009 Riesling; and a main of Wagyu beef tenderloin with beets, shallots, cherry, raddichio and ponzu matched with a 2005 Rioja Reserva. Berlin-born twin chefs Thomas and Mathias Suhring certainly know what they're doing, with enough Michelin-starred experience between them to deliver a thoughtfully choreographed culinary experience that has global gourmands talking.

We plummet down to ground level and grab a cab to the Banyan Tree, a razor-thin tower whose rooftop credentials are as famous as Lebua's. On the 61st floor is Vertigo (00 66 2679 1200; banyantree.com), another of Bangkok's panoramic princesses. The vibe here is just as sceney as Sky Bar, if not scenier, and is a no-brainer for those with baht to burn and alcohol units to exceed. We opt for mojitos and Long Island iced teas at the Moon Bar before once more zipping down in the lift and hailing a cab to catch the tail-end of the Thai boxing match we've got over-priced tickets for.

It turns out we've got ringside seats at Lumpini Boxing Stadium ( muaythailumpini.com) and we're ushered into a pseudo-underground space that's more industrial than industrial-chic: concrete floors underfoot, exposed metal rafters overhead, splintered plastic bench seating on all four sides and a central, blood- and sweat-stained ring dominating the whole thing.

The spectacle runs from 8-11pm, with seven matches in ascending body weight running every half-hour or so. We're here just in time for the final bout, and they've saved the best for last as two hulking, muscle-bound Thais in surprisingly flamboyant fluorescent hot pink and acid green shorts mount the ring, cruel scowls plastered across each of their faces.

The bell rings and they waste no time in slamming fists and feet into each other. It goes on for a gruelling 15 minutes before the larger of the two finally overwhelms the other and he collapses to the floor, the smell of defeat and Tiger Balm lingering in the air. We slink out to grab a tuk-tuk before the crowd fills the street outside.

We wind up at DJ Station (00 66 2266 4029; dj-station.com) at Silom Soy 2, where a disco ball dominates the dance floor and where Western boys come to meet Eastern lady boys. It's a sweaty, heaving affair, with vest-clad revellers pumping their fists in the air like they just don't care.

One round of cheap, badly made drinks turns into six, and before we know it the gloss and sheen of tonight's earlier scene is replaced with something altogether grungier. That is, until we return, stumbling and incoherent, to our ludicrously luxurious suite at the small, colonial-style hotel The Eugenia (00 66 2599 0117; theeugenia.com) and wake up the next morning between fine thread-count sheets. And, as is expected of this city of such exotic style, we're not alone.

Breakfast-in-bed for three, please.

A Hedonist’s Guide to... (Hg2) is a luxury city guide series for the more decadent traveller. For more information, see hg2.com

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Day In a Page

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links