It’s not often that a small neighborhood hotel can become a trending tourist destination. Safari-themed Mustang Nero is the boutique hotel in Phra Khanong, Bangkok, that has transformed into a place that travelers want to visit, even just for a photograph.
Located just steps from the Phra Khanong BTS station, The Mustang Nero hotel is a buried treasure in the Phra Khanong soi or precinct. It’s not hard to spot this boutique hotel, with its three-floor building painted in black.
Even so, the simplistic exterior does not match up with the interior, which charms its guest upon the entrance. Vintage appliances, large tropical plants, and odd choices of decorations add a peculiar, yet mystic atmosphere to the cozy lobby space. The shaded lobby is a literal jungle, enveloped with giant plants and animal taxidermy.
The hotel consists of ten rooms, each overflowing with native plants along the building’s original scored wood paneling. The doors of each room are marked by a sign that indicates the animal spirit inside including, the Dragon, the Zebra, the Flamingo, and the Wolf.
The décor is kept minimal, blending the design with vintage furniture to create a raw and industrial aesthetic. Plants and chairs are used to fill the bedrooms, which keep the overall hotel design coherent. Other bedrooms donned pink and navy walls besides green velvet chairs. The hotel is like a museum, meticulously designed and staged with an intermix of colors and vintage ornaments.
Breakfasts feature homemade jams, organic vegetables, and artisan ingredients, prepared by Khun Joy, former set designer turned owner and chef at Mustang Nero.
Although nestled quite far from the Bangkok city center at Pathum Wan, there is plenty to see and do in the neighborhood, including the ‘Soho’ of Bangkok, Hof Art Space, the Naiipa Art Complex and the EM shopping malls.
Mustang Nero is Bangkok’s version of a mystic artist loft, tailored for creative professionals and those who have the urge to live among unique things.
Beyond the large condo development projects cropping up in Bangkok’s Phra Khanong soi (district) where Rama IV and Sukhumvit intersect, you will find a diverse community that’s helping this enclave thrive. Still true to its quaint and informal roots, Phra Khanong has slowly transformed into a blend of local finds and cool imports. From the W district – the ‘SOHO’ of Bangkok to Bangkok’s tallest 360-degree sky bar, the soi has become one of the most unique neighborhoods in town. Phra Khanong is the new urban playground for both locals and visitors.
W District – Bangkok’s SOHO
Occupied by countless food trucks and statement bars, W District is Phra Khanong’s most snazzy night-to-go. It has become quite the communal hub for the young and the trendy, boasting an à la mode night-market soaked in a relaxed atmosphere. Expect BBQ skewers, Thai street dishes, pizzas, and beers scarred around the edge of its easy-going ‘Beer Garden’ that reflects Bangkok’s upbeat, yet mellow culture.
Cielo Sky Bar
The Cielo Sky Bar may be one of the best-kept secrets in Bangkok. Perched on the 46th floor of a private project at Phra Khanong, Cielo offers an unimpeded view of Bangkok at 360 degrees. Visitors are whisked to the 46th floor on a private elevator to the doorsteps of this art-deco sky bar. With a curated selection of international dishes and cocktails, Cielo is a breathtaking place to sit and watch the Bangkok skyline.
Naiipa Art Complex
The Naiipa Art Complex created a stir when it was awarded Wallpaper’s design award in 2015. Translated as ‘Deep into the Forest’, Naiipa is one of Phra Khanong’s trendiest landmarks. It’s a mix-used project concealed within an old forest and uses reflective glass to integrate office space, art galleries, art studios, restaurants, and coffee shops to co-exist with the natural environment. It has quickly emerged as an art community for Bangkok’s award-winning designers, architects, and creatives.
Hof Art Space
In between the food and the drinks at W District, Phra Khanong’s Hof Art Space is a premier contemporary gallery that showcases the works of established and emerging Thai artists and aims to support the new generation of international creatives. Hof Art Space is one of the many places symbolic of Bangkok’s burgeoning ground for the artistic community of contemporary art and popular culture.
Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura occupies the rooftop of the brand’s store on Rodeo Drive, a two-mile-long street in Beverly Hills that is host to a parade of luxury fashion boutiques.
The restaurant takes part of its name from head chef Massimo Bottura, who has created a “deeply Italian” menu for the venue.
This marks the second time that Bottura has partnered with Gucci. Back in 2018, the three-Michelin-star chef worked with the brand on its eatery in Florence, Italy. This sits inside the store-cum-museum Gucci Garden that both sells and exhibits unique Gucci pieces.
The 50-cover LA location is designed to be an “intimate and cosy” space that nods to the opulent aesthetic of the existing Florence venue.
It has a private entrance at street level, where the restaurant’s name is written across an illuminated slab of pale marble. Guests are greeted in a lobby upstairs, which is covered in tree-printed wallpaper from Gucci’s homeware range.
Star-shaped spotlights punctuate the black ceiling, while an ornately patterned red rug overlays the parquet wooden floor.
Star forms appear again on the mosaic floors of the restaurant’s outdoor terrace, which looks out over Beverly Hills’ bustling, palm tree-lined streets.
A series of jade-green steel beams run overhead, supporting a sheet of awning that can be pulled across to shield diners from the sun.
Dining tables with red-marble countertops are dotted throughout, along with wicker, bistro-style chairs.
An antique wooden pulpit has also been repurposed as an outdoor bar counter.
Concertina glazed doors close off the indoor eating area, which is anchored by a huge, curved seating banquette upholstered in merlot-red velvet.
Gucci is part of a growing wave of high-end fashion houses that have their own restaurants – Louis Vuitton recently threw open the doors to Sugalabo V, an eatery set within its store in Osaka, Tokyo.
Tucked behind a speakeasy-style door, the intimate dining space features chocolate-brown surfaces and jewel-tone furnishings.
If the mission of a spa is to create a memorable and rejuvenating experience, Shanghai’s Jiyu Spa brings exceptional beauty, peace and an immersive experience into a broader perspective.
Shanghai-based Hip-pop design team, has visually transformed Freud’s idea into a design inspiration. The Jiyu Spa targets the hidden unconscious mind to feel and enjoy the current moment, not over-analyzing what the mind sees.
The experience is an instant fantasy. Visitors are immersed in peaceful projections of the natural world, where a blurred LED screen plays the cascading movement of a waterfall and slow blooming motions of a young flower. Bonsai trees and waterfalls create a dreamy effect contrasted by futuristic LED-lit glass panels.
To add, this dreamy space is a transformation of a four-dimensional direction of time and space. Creative visuals and a harmonic background music are components to a poetic device to slow the restless. Reflective glass boxes and transparent panels extending outwards from the space, blur the line between reality and the imagined. A play on light and dark is the second poetic device. Shadows appearing over the light reflected off the glossy floors create a visual space capable to capture the unconscious mind. Rooms switching from light to dark and vice versa is a proposition of means to rejuvenate and pays tribute to the fore-coming designs of future wellness spaces.
The euphoric experience brought on by Hip-pop is an escape from the city upbringings of Shanghai. The team places visitors away from the routine life. Jiyu sets an unconventional example using principles of time and space. The design brings a new perspective that a spa is not solely an immersive experience for the physical body, but for the emotional mind.
In the sleepy mountains of Sapa, Vietnam, stands a whimsical creation by Bill Kingsley. Kingsley is the mastermind behind some of Asia’s most stunning hotels, all of which resemble 19th -century European palaces. His latest Hotel de la Coupole on the hills of Sapa, is no exception.
In the 1880s, the French marched into Sapa. Colonial administrators began to frequent the hills as a retreat to hide from the heat of the Mekong Delta. The region became a French envision, with colonial buildings one against another that overtook the tribal villages. As the wars raged on in the 40s, both the French and locals fled the area. It was not until the 1960s when the locals returned and transformed this sleepy town into today’s mystical destination.
The mustard walls and framed windows of Hotel de la Coupole collectively capture the essence of European palaces. Domed entrances and turrets, associated with the heavens, refine the location of the hotel perched atop of Sapa, once called the ‘Roof of Indochina.’ Stripped rooftops in black and white and the mix of orange shades add mid-century modern. The top floor with a double height ceiling is lined with giant windows across a continuous balcony. Iron finishing and columns that stretch over several floors resemble intricate Parisian architecture from the industrial age.
Travelers are greeted by a colorful assemblage at the lobby. The large shelve and mannequins dressed in half finished tuxedos atop is a classic visual. The lobby, with a white ceiling and moldings, is decked with tiered red lamps, velvet green chairs, and classic French tiling. Giant tassels dangle from the wall lamps lighting the lobby. And a spiral iron staircase twists its way to the second floor at the Café. The lobby is already a whimsical play on colors, shapes and textiles.
Hotel de la Coupole’s pool is a remake of an 18th-century bathhouse. Under a double height ceiling, travelers can gently glide through the pool under its red chandeliers. A handful of reclining chairs behind leafy patterned curtains can allow plenty of time to relax after exploring the hills and valleys of Sapa. The town’s timeless charm is reflected in every corner of the hotel. The Absinthe Bar hosts a spectacular view above the clouds. An open fireplace and a rotunda seating establish an intimate evening for guests to watch the clouds of Sapa move by, while we can confirm that it is not a hallucinogenic effect.
Surrounded by misty mountains and rice terraces, half of the rooms at Hotel de la Coupole open to this spectacular view through their balconies. The rooms are painted in different shades: standard rooms in mustard, deluxe rooms in dark green while suites in red. The bold colors and the intoxicating use of velvet furniture and flamboyant lamps speak French style design. To add, traditional folklore fabrics and textiles dominate the bed linens and cushions. All rooms come with a free-standing bathtub cemented on some intricate tiling work.
As the new icon of Vietnam’s mountainous north, Hotel de la Coupole is there to tell the forgotten story of Sapa.
Penang’s Macalister Mansion is conceptualized as a quirky and sophisticated lifestyle destination where guests are treated to a series of experiences not unlike those found in the hospitality of an actual home.
Grand and imposing, Macalister Mansion on Macalister Road in George Town, is a paean to what sensitive and innovative restoration and re-purposing can achieve. From the modern fibreglass bust of Colonel Norman Macalister at the entrance to this century-old mansion, to the Cellar bar which showcases original architectural details of this heritage hotel, Macalister Mansion is the poster child for restoration, with a nod to heritage yet flirts with modernism.
Built in 1880, the mansion was originally owned by an Indian moneylender or chettiar. A China-born property tycoon Choong Lye Hock bought No.228 Macalister Road in the late 1800s and lived there with his family and his mother together with an entire retinue of staff including gardeners, cooks and 20 servants. The boutique hotel however, now pays tribute to Sir Norman Maclister, one of the first British Governors of Penang from 1808 to 1910.
European in design but Asian in decoration, it was the office of the Consumer Association of Penang for a decade before it was acquired by the present owners. Present owner Datuk Sean H’ng worked closely with architect Colin Seah from the Ministry of Design, an architectural firm based in Singapore. They worked to rehabilitate this outstanding building to its former glory, paying minute attention to conserving significant architectural details whilst infusing the property with contemporary design elements.
The original columns were reinforced, staircases and archways repaired, plaster was removed to reveal original brick walls and cornices, and the windows soundproofed. With specially commissioned artworks from Malaysia and Southeast Asia, this is a quirky yet sophisticated eight room hotel. The two restaurants and two bars at Penang’s Macalister Mansion are decorated with whimsy and imagination, a well-balanced juxtaposition of the old and new living harmoniously together.
It comes as no surprise that luxury restaurants in Kuala Lumpur are concentrated in KL City where all the bustle and hustle occur. While many are no stranger to KLCC for its famous Petrona Twin Towers, the city boasts some famous eateries serving dishes from fresh sashimi flown from Japan to eloquently-plated French lobster bisque.
Located at Intercontinental Hotel KL, Tatsu makes a first impression with a mysterious facade. Muted interiors create a romantic dining ambiance while ample of natural light pours in through the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling glass panels, highlighting the contemporary Japanese aesthetics of the eatery.
Whet your appetite with the crispy duck confit on Japanese spinach with the perfect proportion of crunchy textures. The Ku platter, an assortment of sashimi air-flown from Japan, bursts with fresh flavors. The restaurant’s signature Australian Wagyu beef on a Himalayan rock salt hot plate comes perfectly cooked to a medium rare juiciness and tenderness.
Aesthetically pleasing with elaborate and decorative arts, Manja exudes comfort and a sense of extravagance. Located in the Old Malaya colonial heritage building in Kuala Lumpur, it is a two-storey glass-ceiling lounge with magnificent views. Time seems to stand still within its walls, with a sense of respite from the hustle of the city.
The starter, a blue claw lobster slider sees a luscious local river lobster sautéed and braised with lobster oil and served on a brioche bun with lobster butter and chimichurri béarnaise dressing. The Wagyu gula Melaka is 200 grams of smooth prime beef coated in a popular local palm sugar and ginger glaze.
Maison Francaise is located in a bungalow which has been restored and converted into a restaurant. As one of the most luxury restaurants in Kuala Lumpur, the eatery is decorated in classic black and white. The main dining area is elegant, with French windows that open to an outdoor balcony. Diners can choose from the gourmand menus or the a la cart.
Divided into cold and warm starters, fish and meat courses, caviar, cheese and desserts, tastes and flavors make up for the lack of variety. The chef’s barley risotto with artichoke on gratis and the frothy lobster bisque makes the perfect appetizers. The grilled octopus leg, spongy to the bite and paired with seared scallops will satisfy your taste buds as the first main course.
Petronas Tower 3 isn’t the easiest place to find. However, once found, you are greeted by a zen, minimalist setting, with nothing to focus on except for an amazing panoramic view of the KL skyline. Sound damping is excellent, allowing for an intimate conversation even on the busiest of nights.
First timers shall go with Nobu’s signature omakase course, starring the chef’s personal selection of signature dishes. A starter of toro tartar gets the appetite going, while the tuna sashimi salad with perfectly seared tuna, further whets the appetite. The black cod with miso is deliciously umami with its thick miso coating on an almost too tenderly cooked piece of cod.
You can smell the aroma long before you spot the restaurant. The restaurant is a grandeur of majestic yet tasteful design with chandeliers, cushy seats and flowing curtains. Traditional Indian music plays in the background, adding character to the restaurant.
An addictive starter without being overwhelming would be the palace platter, a non-vegetarian selection of juicy chicken lollipops, crisp murgh samosas, plump Shami kebabs and tangy murgh chat. The mergh makhanwala is one of the chicken specialties here, an Indian version of butter chicken with the charbroiled boneless chicken tikka cooked in a rich creamy sauce of butter and mild spices.
Excerpted from Malaysia Tater
Thailand’s Sansiri has proved itself to be more than just a developer with its newest project – The CLOUD.
Thailand’s reputation as a food haven comes as no coincidence. From Pad Thai to barbecued skewers, the exotic flavors result from a colorful mixture of local herbs, sauces and locally-harvested oils. As tasty as the food is, you might be overwhelmed by a sense of guilt. How much exercise do you need to compensate for those scrumptious meals?
THE CLOUD, a cross-over lifestyle project by Sansiri and The Coffee Club, adds to Thailand’s list of hip eateries. It’s a lifestyle and wellness hub for visitors to recharge, relax and explore.
The Coffee Club has been a beloved coffee chain in Australia, now extending their presence to The CLOUD, where the menu comes with a crazy Australian standard. Low calories, low sugar and low fat are just a few descriptions of the menu, a collaboration with Samitivej Hospital, of healthy burgers, grilled Japanese salmon, chicken and avocado salad, and caffeine-free drinks. Their new and famous latte, nicknamed the Mermaid Latte, pays homage to the vibrant and playful colors found on this mythical sea creature.
There’s also a cheat menu, where customers can opt for cream, butter, milk and cheese, on their cheat days.
The CLOUD is an new epicenter of Sansiri’s approach to lifestyle living. Beside a restaurant and a wellness eatery, it exemplars the design values that break the traditional molds of homes in Thailand.
Projects designed by Sansiri are no longer traditional. Condo projects like Khun by Yoo and Monument Thong Lo are reflection of Sansiri’s foward-thinking design. You will find communal spaces, like co-kitchens, studios and club houses throughout the residences: places to relax, chill and socialize outside the four walls at home.
Sansiri has stepped foot in recent years to build its lifestyle brand to bring together people, art, design, food and retail. The recently launched Siri House in Bangkok is a pool-side retreat in Pathum Wan, and its counterpart in Singapore, is a luxury hideout on Dempsey Hill. Now, The CLOUD is Bangkok’s cloud 9 hidden inside the busy Siam Paragon. You won’t miss those fluffy white clouds dangling from the ceiling at the entrance.
Malaysia’s upcoming luxury, Langkawi.
Off the coast of northern Malaysia lies the archipelago of Langkawi of 99 islands. The largest, Pulau Langkawi (Langkawi Island) is the most inhabited, and is a tropical escape from Malaysia‘s cosmopolitan living. Locals and travelers frequent this ancient island each year, visiting this quiet hideout, now home to a number of luxury accommodations.
St. Regis is an all-suites beach hotel on Malaysia’s holiday island with panoramic views of the Andaman ocean and exceptional service, including butlers who help unpack and pack bags. Dining options are diverse and creative, whether taken barefoot on the beach or inside architect Bill Bensley’s art-filled, over-the-water beach house.
This gorgeous resort that was seven years in the making resets the bar for indulgent escapes to Langkawi – a tropical island that is becoming Malaysia’s leading luxury destination. Expect stylish guestrooms, Andaman Sea views and a rain forest setting shared with monkeys and horn bills.
This luxury hotel on the west coast of the island of Langkawi blends colonial styling with contemporary chic. A kids’ club and a spa make relaxing easy, but the Langkawi Cable Car up to the famous SkyBridge is just a 25-minute walk away for those who want to explore.
The Datai Langkawi redefined luxury hospitality in Malaysia when it opened in 1993. After a £46m renovation, the revitalized resort enveloped by virgin rain forest has returned with a fresh focus on the remarkable wonders that surround the premise and an ambition to be one of the very best luxury retreats in Asia.
The Andaman is an upscale beach resort set on an island bay off Peninsular Malaysia’s northwest coast. The hotelier has some strong selling points, not least its wildlife, its food offering and the rain-forest amphitheater of its setting.
Thinking of pampering yourself at the world’s most expensive spa?
While most of us work a 9 to 5 schedule, time to decompress, detox or escape the routine living is essential for a 20th-century lifestyle. Leading luxury or exclusive hoteliers around the world offer a range of spa treatments for their visitors. From detox facials to water treatments, there is a treatment for everyone. Some leading spa brands even offer treatments that are out of the imagined. We have handpicked for you, the five most expensive spas in the world.
We have all heard of hot stone massages, but Trump Hotel is known for the luxury counterpart of this classic. Diamonds replaces the hot stones, which are first warmed then gently applied to chakra points, circular vortexes of energy in the body, by a personal therapist to absorb negative energy from the body. The 300 USD treatment is said to leave visitors feeling peaceful, calm and soothed.
At four: Waldorf Chicago Elysian Cleanse
The Elysian Cleanse at the Waldorf Chicago is a water-therapy-inspired treatment priced at 400 USD. The full-body treatment consists of a marine mineral rejuvenation and a seaweed wrap followed by a deep tissue massage. The treatment is described as a ‘calming cocoon’ that exfoliates and renews the skin, leaving a healthy glow from top to toe.
At three: Caviar & Gold Facial
This LA-based clinic will have its visitors covered in some of the most expensive things in the world. At 1,200 USD per treatment, chilled caviar is mixed with nutrient-rich plant extracts, platinum and 24 karat gold. The mixture is applied to the skin like a mask to help reduce the appearance of facial lines, age spots and help improve skin complexions.
Grand Wailea Hotel’s signature treatment may be one of the most opulent treatments yet found. Visitors will be paired with 10 therapists for two and a half hours with each therapist assigned to a specific part of the body. The treatment costs 2,000 USD which will focus on a number of pressure points while 100 fingers dancing around your body, leaving the visitors feeling rejuvenated.
The Evian Bath is the most expensive spa in the world at Miami’s Hotel Viktor, which has attracted spa enthusiasts and celebrities to the hotel for a full day of pamper. At 5,000 USD, guests are plunged into an infinity-edge bathtub filled with 1,000 liters of Evian water and floral blooms after a 2-hour long spa service. The package also includes a range of gourmet delicacies prepared by the head chef, to enhance the relaxing experience. The served items include lollipops made of smoked salmon and the hotel’s famous Seven Sins of Chocolate medley.