The moment I stepped into the lobby of the hotel Indigo – the 5 star boutique brand of IHG hotels – I knew that this was going to be a special experience.
It’s not often that I come across a new Bangkok hotel that wows you from the first moment, but this is exactly what happened when I arrived. It’s a boutique hotel that features neighbourhood charm with 190 rooms in the centre of Bangkok on Wireless Road. I adore the youthful design ethic.
Bright and fun, full of local touches and designer collectables including brightly painted sam lor bicycles (literally three wheels) and the wall of antique radios and record players (celebrating Wireless Road, the location of Bangkok’s first ever radio station).
We were here for dinner at CHAR restaurant, billed as the newest hotspot in town. I added an overnight stay as a relaxing extra special treat. My first impressions were very favourable.
You quickly get a sense that design and location (in the way of a neighbourhood community) are key brand features and have been extremely well thought through, from the staff uniforms to the eclectic mix of collectables, radios and movie memorabilia, it provides a perfect homogenous mix that is absolutely pleasing to the eye. It meshes perfectly with the neighbourhood theme. It tells the story. At every guest touch-point I was impressed with the hotel team’s enthusiasm and smiles. They were obviously enjoying the experience too.
After checking in we relaxed and a little later headed to the restaurant located on the 25th floor below the rooftop bar. As you enter the restaurant you notice the subtle design changes. The mood is more club-like with its blue and grey tones and brass highlights, sophisticated and elegant, setting a serious mood for a serious dining experience.
A great venue here in the embassy quarter, amid the towering skyscrapers and stunning views of downtown Bangkok. Perfect to view dramatic sunsets and rooftop panoramas. (The view down into the US Ambassador’s Residence is mesmerising).
A mural depicting movie stars Petchara Chaowarat and Mitr Chaibancha – movie icons from the 60’s and 70’s, the golden age of Thai movies – dominates one wall and links the restaurant to its location, another brand anchor of IHG and Indigo.
It’s impressive. Floor-to-ceiling windows add height and grandeur. There are three dining experiences; CHAR Restaurant; CHAR Rooftop Bar and CHAR Private Dining.
All three are located on the top two stories of Indigo. With the rooftop bar on top of the stylish dining room, it takes the bar-and-grill concept from the original CHAR in Shanghai and incorporates its own neighbourhood dishes.
The kitchen, headed by French chef Lionel Vinatier (previously of Maxim) is no stranger to Bangkok and intertwines local ingredients into his menu. A menu that also features imported beef like Darling Downs Wagyu from Australia and Kobe Wagyu from Japan.
The menu is an old friend. Comforting with culinary classics. Under the careful guidance of Chef Lionel and Manager Lou Christiansen the menu is perfectly balanced. We chose Scallops and Foie Gras to start followed by Lobster Bisque.
The Chef’s foie gras ballotine (Bt 730) was pink and butter smooth served with green apple compote and warm brioche.
The lemongrass infused lobster bisque (Bt 350) was excellent; full of flavour and finished with lobster medallions and a swirl of lime cream. Perfect.
I love beef. So for mains I ordered the famous Darling Downs (DDR) Australian Wagyu Tenderloin (180gms Bt 1450). With a good marble score of 4/9. Cooked medium rare it was simply wonderful. The steak knife was a super sharp top-of-the-range piece of cutlery but it was hardly needed. The steak cuts like butter.
It’s one of Australia’s most prestigious beef brands, Darling Downs Wagyu contains the finely distributed and highly desirable levels of marbling which gourmands look for, the steak was perfect.
This being Thailand not everyone eats beef. Fear not as there are plenty of alternatives on the menu, from great seafood – Alaskan king crab Bt 2000 (half) Bt 3500 (whole) and freshly shucked oysters and king prawns – to Kurobuta Black Pork (250gms Bt 540) and Moules et Frites (Bt 790). My guest ordered North Pacific Black Cod Steak with lemon beurre blanc sauce (200gms Bt 680) which was as good as it looked. The flesh moist and the skin crisp. We ordered a selection of three side dishes to share. Creamy spinach, sautéed mushrooms and truffle mashed potatoes (Bt 100 each). All individually served, piping hot in little brass pots and bowls.
We asked about the signature dessert. A Banana Cheesecake with lime cream and berry compote. It’s for two and it was a perfect finale.
CHAR offers you a fine dining experience that matches the best the city can offer. It’s unique and jaw dropping views are certain to make the hotspot list. But above all a top notch restaurant that offers sophisticated dining with skilled service and bags of style. You won’t be disappointed.
Written by : Mr. Andrew J. Wood
A professional hotelier, Skalleague, travel writer and Director of one Thailand’s leading DMC/travel agents, Andrew has over 35 years of hospitality and travel experience. He is a graduate of Napier University, Edinburgh (Hospitality Studies.)
A UK national, Andrew was born in Yorkshire and prior to moving to Thailand Andrew gained valuable post graduate experience with Thistle Hotels (UK); Hilton Intl (Paris) and Sheraton Hotels & Resorts (London). He started his hotel career in Thailand with Shangri-La Hotels, Royal Garden Hotels and Resorts and the Landmark Group of Hotels (Thailand and UK) and later became General Manager of some of the country’s leading hotels including The Royal Cliff Beach Resort, Pattaya.
Andrew is a former Director of Skal International (SI) and a Past President of SI BANGKOK and former National President SI THAILAND. He is a regular guest lecturer at various Universities in Thailand including Assumption University’s Hospitality School.
Due to his extensive hospitality and travel experience, Andrew as a writer is widely followed and is a contributing editor for numerous publications.