Messing about on the river
The stylish Riva Surya Bangkok is an ideal alternative for the independent traveller
Sitting on the east bank of the Chao Phraya river, a short hop from the National Museum, the Grand Palace and the hip Phra Arthit area, the Riva Surya Bangkok is a stylish boutique hotel with 68 guestrooms.
Converted from a serviced apartment building and open since last year, Riva Surya is carving out its own niche among visitors looking for a place to stay that's small, charming, slightly off the beaten track and an alternative to international chain hotels. Independent travellers wanting to avoid coach-loads of tourists in the lobby will find a haven of peace at the Riva Surya.
Foot and boat are the best travel modes for Riva Surya guests. The hotel is a stone's throw away from Phra Arthit Pier (No 13), making it an easy boat side to the Grand Palace and Wat Arun. Travelling in the opposite direction, I jumped off the Chao Phraya Express Boat after a casual cruise from Saphan Taksin BTS station, and strolled along the river to the hotel.
While the exterior of Riva Surya is open to the hustle and bustle of Phra Arthit Road, the interior, with its open-air deck, living space and cosy sofas and swimming pool, is quiet and luxurious. The busy King Rama VIII bridge, glows in the night sky providing a dramatic backdrop for pre-dinner cocktails and late night drinks.
Riva Surya offers four room types - Urban Room, Riva Room, Deluxe Riva Room and Premium Riva Room. In term of interior design, the guestrooms are pretty much the same, the differences coming in space and views. The only drawback of the Urban Room is the view - pull back the curtains and you see the tree line and parked cars on the narrow strip of Phra Arthit Road.
I check into room 402. At 30sqm, this mid-level Riva Room is spacious for one and would have been very comfortable for two. I like the beautiful blend between Thai furnishings and cutting-edge technology. The gleaming white walls and light-brown floor were pleasing on the eyes and the room was well furnished with king-sized bed, armchair, flat-screen television and DVD player set, iPod docking station and working space. I looked out over the swimming pool and could see the Chao Phraya too.
The bathroom featured a glass-enclosed rain shower but allowed plenty of room to move around the large wash basin and toilet.
Wi-Fi Internet connectivity is free in the lobby area and in guestrooms. The hotel can arrange small meetings for 10 people. Dining is available at Babble & Rum, The Garden and The Cafe, all offering authentic cuisine and contemporary urban flavours.
Riva Surya wants to leave its mark as a space to enjoy urban beauty and cosy living along the Chao Phraya. It's a laid-back boutique hotel that offers a respite from the hubbub of Bangkok's modern life.
At a Glance
High Point: A stylish, urban hotel that's ideal for the independent traveller.
Low Point: It's a bit off-the-beaten-track for shoppers and businessmen. Siam Square is 40 minutes away by taxi.
Find it: 23 Phra Arthit Road, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok, Thailand
Pay for it: The Urban Room starts from Bt3,330 per night. Visit the hotel website for promotions and the best deals.
Phone it: (+66 2) 633 5000
Browse it: www.RivaSuryaBangkok.com.