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Carlton Hotel Bangkok Sukhumvit: A review

The Carlton Hotel Singapore has become a bit of an institution in Singapore since it opened in 1988, partly because of its quality, and partly because it is home to the venerable Wah Lok Cantonese Restaurant. A sister hotel, the Carlton City Hotel Singapore, opened in 2013. Their first and only foray out of the country, so far, is the Carlton Hotel Bangkok Sukhumvit, opened just four years ago.

My husband and I were fortunate enough to stay at the Bangkok hotel recently, and it’s probably not much of a spoiler to say that we loved it.

Text: Carlton Hotel Sukhumvit: 5-star luxury in Bangkok, Thailand: A review. Image: the hotel building in daylight.

I mean, what’s not to love about a luxury hotel with fabulous views of the city in a shopping district of Bangkok, but with sound-proofed windows that allow you to escape the noise and busy traffic?

 Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. The Carlton provided our three-night stay as well as a meal at each of its restaurants. Nevertheless, they have no influence over what I write, and I have tried to be as unbiased as possible.

Another disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. This will not affect your price.

The Carlton Hotel Bangkok Sukhumvit is a 34-story property, with the upper stories shaped like a waterfall, outlined at night in lights. It has 338 rooms and suites, an outdoor swimming pool and several excellent restaurants – but more on them later. 

(I should also mention that this hotel is not part of either the Ritz-Carlton brand nor the Carlton Hotels in Dubai. It’s just these three hotels so far: two in Singapore and this one in Bangkok.)

The lobby makes an elegant first impression, with its marble floors and walls and white and grey upholstered clusters of comfortable couches and chairs covering practically the entire ground floor. Floor to ceiling rounded windows look out on the busy commercial street outside. At one end is the Tuxedo Espresso Bar. It’s more than just a coffee shop – they serve light meals and both hot and cold drinks as well. Take a look at their marble cake that looks exactly like the marble bricks used in the building itself. 

Night view looking up at the Carlton Hotel Bangkok Sukhumvit: vertical lines of white lights down the curves of its front like a waterfall.

At the other end of the lobby level, a pretty multi-floor sculpture of large glass balls and other shapes hangs in the foyer. The glass elevator next to it takes visitors to two of the restaurants and the grand ballroom. The front desk is rather small and unassuming, and the helpful staff will whisk your luggage to your room and very efficiently field any questions you have. There is a concierge desk off to the side.

The rooms at Carlton Hotel Bangkok

Each room has a private bathroom, of course, and all of the bathrooms have separate bathtubs. The hotel has six different room categories, though all are decorated similarly:

  • The Deluxe Room (which really means their most basic room) is 37 square meters (about 400 square feet). It includes pretty much everything you’d expect from a quality 5-star hotel. 
  • The Executive Room is the same as the Deluxe Room but is on an upper floor, so the views are better.
  • The Family Room is twice the size, divided into two rooms sharing one bathroom, with a king-size bed and two singles.
  • The Carlton Club Room is the same as the Deluxe and Executive Rooms, but it’s on a high floor. It includes access to the Carlton Club Lounge and free breakfast, plus other perks like some free laundry and late check-out time.

The hotel has some fancier suites as well: large rooms and suites with living rooms and/or more bedrooms and/or dining rooms and/or kitchenettes. These all include Carlton Club Lounge access.

We were upgraded to a Carlton Club Room on the 31st floor. It came with extras, most importantly that these rooms are on the higher floors, so the views are amazing. 

A bed, a lounge chair and behind the chair a large window showing lots of skyscrapers.
Our room on the 31st floor.

The room, decorated in a similar palette to the lobby, with marble flooring and light earth colors, felt roomy and was very well thought out. It had those basic things I always look for: good reading lights by the bed on both sides and plugs within reach (without having to move any furniture) on both sides. The bed was very comfortable with high-quality linens and non-lumpy pillows. And, of course, extremely quiet air conditioning.

A sizeable desk also has good lighting and outlets within easy reach, and there’s fast and free wifi. A flat-screen tv mounted on the wall has cable channels. Below the tv, a cupboard holds glass bottles of water, a tea kettle and a coffee maker with all the makings, as well as a mini-fridge stocked with snacks and drinks (for a high additional charge).  A comfortable lounge chair sits next to the picture window.

Another amenity I noticed and liked was the fact that the luggage rack is long enough for two suitcases. There were slippers underneath it and bathrobes, a hair dryer, and a safe in the closet. 

Book a room in the Carlton Hotel Bangkok Sukhumvit.

It is also quiet. I don’t think that during our three-nights’ stay we ever heard anything from the neighboring rooms. As for the sounds of the city, the windows cut the noise very well. We could still hear a general distant roar, but not more than that – it felt like gentle white noise. What with the comfortable bed and pillows, the quiet air conditioner, the good soundproofing, and the blackout curtains, we slept very well.

There are two reasons the room feels so roomy. One I’ve already mentioned is the amazing view over downtown Bangkok through the floor-to-ceiling windows. And, by the way, the two layers of curtains – one thin and translucent and the other heavy black-out curtains – open and close electronically, using a button by the bed. 

The bathroom

The other reason for the roomy feel is the fact that there’s a large glass window between the bathroom and the room, with the bathtub right under it. This, as I’ve stated in both my other recent reviews of 5-star hotels (Bayphere Hotel Pattaya and Sea Sand Sun Resort and Villas), is something I don’t like. I don’t need anyone, including my husband, to see me washing, showering or peeing! I appreciated that I could look through the room out to the city view from the bathroom, and if I’d been traveling alone I might have taken a bath just for that self-indulgent experience. But I closed the shade over the window and it stayed closed for the rest of our visit.

View from the bathroom, over the bath, through a large window, to the bedroom beyond and the window to the skyscraper view.
View from the bathroom before I closed the shade on the window.

Besides the big window in the bathroom, both the toilet stall and the shower stall have glass doors. I don’t understand why this is so popular in hotels. Fortunately, the door to the bathroom as a whole is a proper door with no glass, thank goodness, so I didn’t mind so much. 

And speaking of the toilet, it had something I wish more hotels offered: a Japanese-style bidet toilet. It’s the kind that sprays your nether regions with water, and you can adjust the power and temperature of the spray. Then afterwards, you can blow dry! The seat even has heating. I loved these in Japan, and I wish more hotels had them.

The shower has both a regular and a rain showerhead, as well as a place to sit if needed. The toiletries all seemed high quality, though I wish they’d stop using the little disposable sample-size bottles and instead use the more sustainable dispenser systems that attach to the wall. (According to their website’s sustainability statement, that is in the planning.)

Reserve your room in the Carlton Hotel Bangkok Sukhumvit.

The Carlton Club Lounge

We also had access to the Carlton Club Lounge on the 33rd floor. The lounge is a large room with floor-to-ceiling windows and a balcony. The room is dotted with small tables and chairs, and along one side is a long counter where various nibbles are available. The lounge offers non-alcoholic beverages all day for free, and every evening for a couple of hours it holds a happy hour with free drinks. My husband enjoyed going up there and having a quiet glass of wine or a beer in the evening, while I liked it because of the lounge’s balcony. I enjoyed being that high up and outside, especially as it cooled down in the evening.

City buildings - lots of skyscrapers - with the sun setting in the background.

Facilities at Carlton Hotel Sukhumvit

The outdoor pool is on the 10th floor. It’s 30 meters long, lined with marble tiling and edged with wood walkways. A simple waterfall trickles at one end. I have to admit I wasn’t too impressed with the pool area. For one thing, the pool isn’t very deep at all. It worked fine for my husband to swim the crawl or breast stroke, but for me it wasn’t deep enough to do the side stroke I enjoy.

The edge of the pool deck is heavily planted, which creates a green environment despite the street noise. I would have liked, though, if there was a place somewhere along the edge where I could look down at the street and BTS line below.

A large blue pool edged with wood and marble.
The pool. At the end small rivulets of water drop from the projecting structure under the clock.

Plunge Juice Bar, next to the pool, offers, besides juice, simple food and drink. There are tables and chairs at the end of the pool where people can eat. Also next to the pool is a playroom for children, set up for pretend play mostly, and a small wading pool with fountains. 

Inside on the same floor is a fitness studio, which looks very new and complete, and a spa. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see the spa or try any of its treatments. There’s also a steam room and sauna somewhere, but I didn’t spot them.

If you’re going to be in Bangkok, make sure to read these other articles before you travel:

Dining at Carlton Hotel Sukhumvit

​Plate Restaurant

The hotel serves its buffet breakfast in this restaurant in the basement. The decor is simple, with both booths and tables. It doesn’t feel like a basement because of the large glass well above part of it. It reaches through to the first floor, allowing lots of light in from the street.

The buffet at Plate Restaurant offers a very wide selection of both Asian and Western breakfast items. There are all the usual Western items like breads and all sorts of things to put on them, pastries, yogurts, fruit, cereals, juices, and hot foods like sausages, bacon, potatoes and such. There was even frozen yogurt that looked homemade. For those who prefer them, they also offer rice dishes of various sorts and a few dim sum items.

A cook was busy preparing eggs to order as well as some other dishes. Again, as at every hotel we stayed in on this trip, the orange juice did not taste fresh – I guess that’s just not a thing in Thailand? – but everything else did, and we particularly liked the high-quality whole-grain breads. 

Plate Restaurant offers a varied menu all day for casual dining, both Western and Thai, from light bites to extensive meals. We had the Thai set dinner one evening. It costs the equivalent of US$30 for two people (plus tax and tip). Essentially a taster menu, it starts with crackers and dip, followed by spring rolls, coconut soup and four different dishes to share. Every single item was delicious, except perhaps the desserts. That’s a matter of personal preference, though: I’m not a big fan of Thai sweets in general. I most enjoyed the coconut soup and the deep-fried prawns.

A bowl of coconut soup with chicken.
Coconut soup with chicken.

What surprised me about Plate Restaurant was how few people were there. I guess they don’t have much visibility from the street, so most of their guests are people staying in the hotel. I asked our waiter about this and he said they do get people coming for business lunches as well.

You might also like to read about these 5-star luxury beach hotels in Pattaya, just two hours away from Bangkok: Bayphere Hotel and Sea Sand Sun Resort and Villas.

Wah Lok Restaurant

As I mentioned above, Wah Lok is a well-loved restaurant in Singapore serving authentic Cantonese cuisine. After many years of success there, it has now opened this branch in Bangkok. Set in a high-ceilinged, almost ballroom-like space, it reminded me of a classic dim sum place I enjoyed in Hong Kong once. And that resemblance turned out to make sense. Wah Lok’s specialty is indeed dim sum, though the dim sum is ordered from a menu, not from carts wheeled between the tables.

A large room with a high ceiling with recessed lights, floor dotted with tables and chairs.
Wah Lok Restaurant.

The servers treated us like royalty, leading us to a separate room with a large round table off the main restaurant. It was a bit strange to sit with just the two of us at such a big table, with a server just for us hovering nearby. At the same time, it was fun getting this special treatment. The room was only a floor or two up from the ground floor and had enormous floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a trafficky intersection, making for entertaining people-watching and vehicle-watching.

In any case, the food is simply stellar. It was clear why this is a Michelin-listed restaurant, as is Wah Lok Singapore. We had a special set menu the restaurant chose for us, but I checked and everything we ate is available from their menu. We started with several dim sum dishes, each of which was just that little bit different from standard dim sum items. For example, rather than your standard steamed barbecued pork bun, theirs is baked, with a wonderful, slightly crumbly crust.

BBQ pork bun
Wah Lok’s barbeque pork bun.

From their a la carte menu, we especially liked their Peking Duck. It first involved a lesson in how to assemble it: put a very thin pancake down first. Add a large, crispy piece of duck skin in its center, then a stick of celery and one of scallion, a dose of sauce on top, then roll. Simple and delicious. The “Sauteed Diced Australian Beef Tenderloin with Garlic and Black Pepper Sauce” was unbelievably tender and flavorful. 

Wah Lok's beef dish.
The sauteed beef tenderloin (after I’d already started eating it!).

The dessert menu is similarly unusual, with choices ranging from “Double-Boiled Bird’s Nest with Crystal Sugar” (extremely expensive) to “Crispy King of Durian Ice Cream” (quite reasonable). My husband had the ice cream, which, if you ask me, is disgusting because it’s durian, but he found it at least edible. I didn’t. I enjoyed the “Chilled Cream of Mango with Sago and Pomelo,” which is essentially a tasty cold mango soup.

In short, this restaurant is excellent and well worth a splurge when you’re in Bangkok, even if you don’t stay at the Carlton.

Cooling Tower Restaurant

While I’d say that Wah Lok wins the prize for the food, the Cooling Tower Restaurant wins the prize for atmosphere.

On the 34th floor of the hotel – the top floor – Cooling Tower is essentially an open-air space with a roof. The sides have railings, of course, but they’re glass-sided. You can easily enjoy the stunning view of the Bangkok skyline from your seat. The rooftop bar extends almost the whole width of the room, and they’re clearly particularly proud of their extensive selection of very creative cocktails. I had something called a Day to Day, which is Phraya Gold Thai Rum, passionfruit puree, watermelon, lime juice and brown sugar. They have a long list of beers, wines and spirits too, of course.

A long narrow room, light coming from the left, a long bar along the right, and tables and chairs down its length.
Cooling Tower Restaurant. Between the pillars on the left are the glass railings and the space above them is open to the air.

As for food, their menu has some excellent-sounding bar bites and starters, mostly Western dishes like nachos and a prosciutto burrata salad. The same goes for their main courses, which are mostly Western: things like steaks, fish, burgers, pizza and pasta. I enjoyed the BBQ pork spare ribs after two months of pretty much only eating Thai food. They weren’t extraordinary, but they were as good as any you’d get at an upscale restaurant in the US or here in the Netherlands.

This place isn’t cheap, but like any rooftop restaurant I’ve ever been to, you’re paying for the view as much as for the food and drink. I’d suggest getting here before sunset – they open at 5pm – and at least ordering a signature cocktail and perhaps some bar bites. Share them while you enjoy the sight of the sun slipping down behind the buildings and the city lighting up as darkness falls. 

A view after sunset of the city and its lights.
The view after sunset.

Tuxedo Espresso Bar

On our last day, we enjoyed an afternoon tea at the Tuxedo Espresso Bar on the ground floor. The teas they offer are themed, and the themes change every three months. It was the middle of March when we visited, so the theme was still about Valentine’s Day. The delicacies included in the tea were all about love, with lots of pink and red and heart shapes. We chose our pots of tea from an extensive menu and started on the various treats set before us. 

Two long trays with an array of small items at afternoon tea at Carlton Hotel Bangkok Sukhumvit.
Our afternoon tea.

At first glance, I thought it would all be rather sickeningly sweet, just based on the appearance of these ornate creations. I thought they must be mostly marzipan and fondant, more intended to look good at the expense of taste.

I was wrong. These were not overly sweet, and they were varied and fresh and delicious – no marzipan in sight. The sheer amount of detail put into them was impressive as well. It was clear that each one included several different preparations: see the example in the photo below. It was definitely not very balanced in terms of sweet and savory – the majority of the items were sweet. But I didn’t mind!

A pretty sweet with purple, yellow and dark red, and a bit of gold on top.
As an example, this pastry involved a tart at the bottom with a filling. That is topped with a white fondant, a purple cake of some sort (also with a filling), and a different sort of filled cake on top with a candy coating. For decoration, there’s a handmade yellow butterfly candy on the side, and a small meringue beside it. It’s an enormous amount of detail work for a single confection! On top is a piece of gold leaf.

The afternoon tea is something that would be fun if you’re out shopping with friends or family and want a treat. Make sure to reserve ahead, and I’d suggest skipping breakfast and definitely don’t expect to eat any lunch – we still felt pretty full by the time dinnertime came around!

Where is Carlton Hotel Bangkok?

The hotel is in the bustling Sukhumvit district of Bangkok, right on Sukhumvit Road. It is just a few minutes’ walk, just a few blocks, to two Skytrain stations: the Phrom Phong BTS Skytrain station in one direction and the Asok BTS station in the other. The nearest metro station is Sukhumvit Station, near Asok BTS station.

It’s not a pretty area, and the Skytrain tracks run straight down the middle of the road, up high on concrete pylons. It’s very much a mix of modern buildings like the Carlton, many of which are architecturally quite interesting, and smaller-scale, local businesses. There’s more than one shopping mall within walking distance: all very upscale and shiny with all the international chains. None of the historical sights are near here, but they’re easy to reach via BTS or metro. I’d suggest not taking a taxi or tuktuk because the traffic seems to be heavy pretty much all day. The BTS and metro are clean, efficient, frequent and cheap, so they’re your best bet.

From Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), it should take about 35 minutes to get to the Carlton Hotel by taxi or rental car. However, you should count on it taking longer because of traffic unless it’s the middle of the night. The same goes if you’re traveling from Don Mueang Airport (DMK). It’s actually a bit closer, about 30 minutes in theory, but more like an hour in practice. There is parking on site.

Would I recommend this hotel?

If it’s in your price range, I would absolutely recommend this hotel. It’s elegant and well-appointed and well-run. It’s a convenient location for shopping and for the BTS. And the view is stunning. I would certainly recommend at least a drink at the Cooling Tower at sunset, even if you’re not staying here. And a splurge at the excellent Wah Lok Restaurant as well. Both are worth a special trip.

Reserve your room in the Carlton Hotel Bangkok Sukhumvit or look at other 5-star hotels in Bangkok.

Let me know if you end up staying here and what you thought of it!

My travel recommendations

Planning travel

  • Skyscanner is where I always start my flight searches.
  • Booking.com is the company I use most for finding accommodations. If you prefer, Expedia offers more or less the same.
  • Discover Cars offers an easy way to compare prices from all of the major car-rental companies in one place.
  • Use Viator or GetYourGuide to find walking tours, day tours, airport pickups, city cards, tickets and whatever else you need at your destination.
  • Bookmundi is great when you’re looking for a longer tour of a few days to a few weeks, private or with a group, pretty much anywhere in the world. Lots of different tour companies list their tours here, so you can comparison shop.
  • GetTransfer is the place to book your airport-to-hotel transfers (and vice-versa). It’s so reassuring to have this all set up and paid for ahead of time, rather than having to make decisions after a long, tiring flight!
  • Buy a GoCity Pass when you’re planning to do a lot of sightseeing on a city trip. It can save you a lot on admissions to museums and other attractions in big cities like New York and Amsterdam.
  • I’m a fan of SCOTTeVEST’s jackets and vests because when I wear one, I don’t have to carry a handbag. I feel like all my stuff is safer when I travel because it’s in inside pockets close to my body.
  • Airalo is an e-sim card. You buy it through an app and activate it when you need it. I tried it on my trip to Thailand and it worked just like any other sim card, but without my having to fuss with physical cards.
  • I use ExpressVPN on my phone and laptop when I travel. It keeps me safe from hackers when I use public or hotel wifi.

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about Rachel

Hi, I’m Rachel!

Rachel’s Ruminations is a travel blog focused on independent travel with an emphasis on cultural and historical sites/sights. I also occasionally write about life as an expatriate. I hope you enjoy what I post here; feel free to leave comments!  Read more…
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