The Standard, Bangkok Mahanakhon opened with considerable fanfare on 29 July. The long-awaited hotel is situated in the striking Mahanakhon Tower that began construction in 2011.
It was briefly Bangkok’s tallest building when it celebrated its grand opening, albeit incomplete, in 2016.
The opening of the hotel that occupies the first 18 floors of the building (as well as spaces at the top of the skyscraper) is a soap opera that the hospitality industry has been watching closely for more than a decade.
The hotel is on its third global brand, after scuppered management deals with Marriott’s Edition and Accor’s Orient Express. (The Ritz-Carlton Residences in the same building are managed separately.)
The building itself is in the hands of its second owner, King Power, best known for its duty-free and other retail concessions at Thai airports.
Designed to Impress
The Standard Bangkok Balcony Suite
The choice of Bangkok wasn’t an innocent one. The Thai property developer Sansiri became the majority shareholder of the parent company of Standard International in 2019. The Bangkok property is designed to be the brand’s flagship in Sansiri’s hometown.
The muted and bold palette of Spanish interior designer Jaime Hayon defines every space of the hotel, from the infinitely reflective mirrored lifts to the 155 guest rooms that just avoid minimalism with splashes of retro colour that wouldn’t have been out of place in the 1960s or 70s.
“What I really like, the spaces are intimate. I love the proportions,” said Amar Lalvani, executive chairman of Standard International, in conversations with Travel Weekly Asia ahead of the opening.
Food. And yes, beverages.
The elements of design extend into every remarkable food and beverage outlet. A floor paved with American pennies in The Standard Grill, the black and white decor, and uniforms in the aptly named Teased tearoom, or the hand-painted murals in Mott 32, Hong Kong’s exquisite dim sum temple, are just some of the visual surprises that await guests.
“The Standard Grill reminds you of the Standard Grill in New York,” said Lalvani. “But it’s not a copy.”
The Ojo bar and Mexican restaurant on the Standard’s 76th floor.
On the 76th floor, Ojo (eye in Spanish) serves up Mexican food with a bit of fine dining polish, and killer views of the city.
Chef Francisco Ruano, better known as Paco, who has won international praise for restaurant Alcalde in Guadalajara, including spots on the 50 Best Restaurant lists, was a personal choice of Lalvani’s, and is already a hit with Bangkokians and visitors alike.
The restaurant, which opened almost two months before the hotel, is now one of Bangkok’s hardest tables to score.
Steeped in culture
The Parlor may look like a casual dining outlet with a bar but is first and foremost the social heart of the hotel. And like the other bars of the hotel The Parlor serves cocktails under the watchful eye of expert mixologist and beverage manager Khunn Milk Thanaworachayakit.
Live music, fashion shows, talks, and workshops are just some of the regular events planned for the space. A sound booth means that DJ sets and podcasts will also be featured.
Look for remarkable permanent and temporary art pieces throughout the hotel as well. A Joan Miró sculpture that anywhere else would be showcased front and centre is casually displayed in a niche between the lobby floor lifts.
Bringing the Brand to Asia and the World
Until recently, The Standard was quintessentially an American boutique hotel brand. As CEO, Lalvani ran Standard international for eight years before taking on his current role defining and implementing the brand’s philosophy in its properties around the world.
“We do talk about ‘anything but Standard’. We like to take risks,” he says.
The brand sees itself as an innovator, bringing the unexpected to unlikely places, as was the case with the brand’s iconic West Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles hotels in their day.
Those properties ceased operations during the height of the pandemic. “Scaling creativity is one the hardest things to do in business,” says Lalvani, which is exactly what his job description is today.
The company’s goal is to bring The Standard’s unique brand of quirkiness and quality to new markets around the world, with openings in Hua Hin at the end of 2021, Ibiza and Bangkok this year and Singapore and Melbourne on the books for 2023.