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The Metropolitan Bangkok

Tucked away down a lane off harried Sathorn Road, The Metropolitan is a haven of upscale tranquility amidst the buzz of Bangkok. The sister to London's coolest city hotel, it's also a place where the cliched East-meets-West approach to hotel design is executed to sublime effect.

Everything from the crisply dressed staff (uniforms by Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto) and the Orient-tinged interiors to the COMO Shambhala toiletries that grace every bathroom is achingly hip. But beyond the boundless style, The Metropolitan has the substance to match: staff radiate energetic enthusiasm, spaces ooze less-is-more sophistication, and the scent of the fragrant toiletries will linger long in the memory.

With interiors by Singaporean designer Kathryn Kng, each of the 171 rooms is bright and modern, drawing in a fresh, seductive mix of East, West and natural touches. The four penthouse suites and 240 square metre Presidential Suite (Mariah Carey counts among famous guests who have stayed here) are cavernous, but what really impresses is the size of the 122 Metropolitan rooms.

Each is between 51 and 54 square metres - the largest standard room size of any Bangkok hotel. The mosaic and limestone bathroom with sunken tub is big enough to swing a few Siamese cats in. Views are pleasingly potent; Sathorn's towering buildings and the green fringes of Lumpini Park remind you that the city, and its unbridled delights, is never far away.

More dazzling than the vistas, are the simple but sophisticated interiors. The plush, traditional opulence often found in luxury hotels make way for stripped down spaces infused with a cool, Zen-like calm.

Dark teak-wood floors and fittings, Oriental furnishings and crisp, contemporary lines define the hotel's signature 'pared down' look, while touches like the earth-toned fabrics of the Egyptian bed linen and overstuffed rectangular pillows warm things up. Perhaps the most eye-catching feature of each room, the king-size bed has a built-to-last quality about it. Hanging above it, original water-lily paintings by Thai artist Natee Utarit gives depth to the room's strikingly-lit interiors.

Whether you're in the powerfully open space of the lobby or the spacious rooms, light is also a feature; by day pouring through windows and into clean-lined spaces to give rooms a satisfying richness and depth, while at night ambient lighting by London-based Isometrix builds in layers to complement the task at hand.

While this deft use of space and light throughout exudes simplicity, in-room facilities are unerringly sophisticated, not to mention functional. Technophiles will marvel at the wireless internet, cordless phone, electronic safe, Bosch radio/CD player, DVD player and interactive TV menu offering on-demand movies and message retrieval. And if the cutting-edge gadgetry and Zen-like calm of the place doesn't relax you, the Yoga mat in the cupboard (or free daily Yoga lesson in the studio downstairs) should help you achieve inner peace.

Fancy meeting facilities on the third floor include three fully-equipped meeting rooms, ideal for any high-flying business presentation or swanky media shindig. A personal meeting butler ensures proceedings go off without fuss.

More delights & charms

Like its sister hotel on London's trendy Park Lane, The Metropolitan's charms stretch far beyond the delights to be had while wallowing in fashionable privacy in your room. Take Cyan, the hotel's 110-seat restaurant.

With its Moorish, seafood-inspired menus by renowned Australian chef Amanda Gale, it's won accolades galore - including Thailand Tatler's Best Restaurant Award 2004 - and become a city destination in its own right. Tuck into toasted coconut waffles with mango, passion fruit and palm syrup for the included buffet breakfast, or indulge in a lingering fish supper by the palm fringed 20-metre pool that flanks it, and you'll discover why.

Follow that with a night-time cocktail at the famous Met Bar, one of the trendiest spots in the world come night. And then there's the 48-seat Glow restaurant serving fresh organic snacks, light meals and juices with a health-giving slant that dovetails perfectly with the holistic COMO Shambhala Spa next to it. With a state-of-the-art gymnasium, yoga studio, 20-metre lap pool, steam rooms and jacuzzi this fragrant retreat provides all the pampering potential you'd expect from a hotel of this caliber.

Whether you are in the tastefully furnished lobby, lying face-down on a treatment table in the spa or with your feet up in your own private space, the same calming, youthful air persists. Sleek serenity would be one way to describe it. A surreal sensation of being in two places at once - the heart of Bangkok's bustling business district and yet in hip seventh heaven - would be another. Whatever that peculiar feeling is, and however it's achieved, a stay at The Metropolitan is something irresistible.

Location: South Sathorn Road, an approximate 10 - 15 minute walk to MRT (underground) station Lumpini.

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