Being billed as Bangkok's first boutique hotel is no easy reputation to live up to. For starters, The Davis Hotel Bangkok is much bigger in terms of the number of rooms one would expect from a typical boutique hotel (237 guestrooms and ten Thai villas). When it opened in July 2003, it set new style parameters, and it wasn't long before others followed suit. Yet, four years on, and with new boutique contenders emerging fast and furious on the Bangkok hotel scene, The Davis still exemplifies the very essence of what a boutique hotel is all about - a unique hospitality experience that has, well, that little something extra which only the French have a word for: "panache".
Down Sukhumvit Road Soi 24, the imposing European-style curved Corner Wing is the first sign that you've arrived somewhere that's decidedly different. Two mythical Asian lions cast in concrete silently hold guard on either side of the entrance, while an antique Victorian street clock on a decorative cast-iron pole is juxtaposed to one side on the neatly brick-paved surface.
Tucked in next to the Corner Wing is Camp Davis, a two-storey retail complex, and passing that brings you to the Main Wing with its chic, clinical-looking contemporary lobby. You've arrived at a 'different experience'. So different, in fact, that you can change rooms for 60 consecutive nights without encountering the same interior twice.
A gripe some people would have with its location is that it's a good 15-minute hike to Sukhumvit Road where the popular Emporium mall and Phrom Phong Skytrain (BTS) station can be found. The hotel does offer a complimentary tuk-tuk shuttle service, but with only six seats and a limiting schedule on the half-hour, it's best to book your seat(s) with the concierge desk in advance.
On the upside, taxis are plentiful and cheap, and this 'soi' (street) off Sukhumvit has a life all of its own - far removed from the traffic-clogged main road with its pavement vendors, tourist touts and customary tailor shops. Besides, this is the type of hotel selected for its very special flair.
Inside Camp Davis are several restaurants (Thai and international), a Starbucks, a dental clinic, nail spa and beauty salon, ice cream shop and a few gift shops. The immediate vicinity has even more offerings: a number of authentic local eating experiences, a few massage shops (not of the happy-ending genre), a spa, a modern Tops supermarket, more coffee shops, a DVD hire outlet, pet shop, some boutique shops, an Internet shop, laundry and even a chocolatier - all adding to a charming neighbourhood feel.
Back at the hotel, there's even more to explore beyond Camp Davis, and the adjoining Corner and Main Wings, which are seven and nine storeys, respectively. At the back of the hotel lies the 'pi-ce de r-sistance', ten exquisite two- and three-bedroom Thai villas set in an idyllic garden, and ranging in size from 164 to 250 square metres.
With meticulous attention to comfort and design detail to keep the style authentic, the villas present an unprecedented level of luxury. Textured wooden walls, sumptuous silk touches and elegant furniture are off-set against the graceful arc of the ceiling, creating a wonderfully soothing space to sleep, eat, dream, relax and live.
Perfectly complementing the exquisite interiors are hi-tech trimmings like a data port for broadband Internet connectivity, a fax line, satellite (flat screen) TV, DVD/CD player, a fully-equipped kitchenette, and a bathroom with separate shower and tub where you'd want to spend much more time in than usual.
The same design and comfort philosophy is extended through all rooms and suits of the Corner and Luxury Wings, with a style and configuration that suits every taste. In the Main Wing, choices include Superior, Design and Deluxe Rooms (all 42 square metres, the 'differentiator' being the interior style), as well as one-bedroom Junior, Davis and Deluxe Suites (80 square metres and, again, decked out in different interiors) with separate lounge area and fully-equipped kitchenettes.
Executive Suites have two bedrooms in a spacious 130-square metre space. The Davis Suite here comes highly recommended with its four-poster bed, lots of dark woodwork in the lounge area, and beautifully decorated with ornamental Thai arts and crafts - yet oozing a contemporary mood. The A-shape ceiling creates a particularly unusual but pleasant feeling of added space.
The Studio Room in the Corner Wing (33 square metres) has what would be for some a very 'sexy' feature. A large window provides a full-on view either into the bathroom or from, but a curtain can be drawn for those who prefer bathroom privacy. The Premier Room offers a roomier option at 55 square metres, and weighing in even bigger are The Diplomat and Emperor Suites (both 100 square metres), and the Ambassador Suite (110 square metres). All the suites have Jacuzzis.
In-room features throughout are the same as that found in the villas (except the additional add-ons mentioned previously), but the varying interior styles of the different accommodations defy clear definition. It's distinctly Thai, but also modern. It's warm and cosy, yet also positively 'cool'.
The outdoor rooftop pool on the ninth floor of the Main Wing is not particularly big, with only a limiting number of deck chairs around. Claim yours early enough if lounging around the pool is on the agenda. The rooftop is a wonderfully relaxing area though, with lots of greenery, good views, a Pool Bar, and also where you'll find the well-equipped Spa & Fitness Centre.
There's a separate outdoor pool for use of guests staying at the villas, but note that guests staying in the Corner Wing have to walk the few minutes or so between that and the Main Wing, passing Camp Davis.
The Davis Hotel Bangkok is, understandably, very popular with business travellers. Rooms and suites are perfectly equipped for their needs, and the second floor Business Centre has all the facilities conducive to clinching that important business deal: impressive meeting rooms, wireless Internet, secretarial support, fax, photocopy and courier services. There's also wireless Internet in all lobby areas (not free though).
Guests should never have to leave the hotel to eat or be amused, and Gallery Cafe and Club 88 make sure of that. A delectable (and very affordable) continental and Asian buffet spread is a tempting option at Gallery Caf- for lunch or dinner, while an equally impressive breakfast buffet is laid on. Club 88 is a lively nighttime bar venue with Filipino entertainers crooning, shaking and tapping to the tunes of hits from the 80's and 90's - and the odd guest joining in the fun at times.