Bangkok Hotel

A space worthy of the Thai ruling class

Nestled in the sleek steel-and-glass tower of the new Bangkok Plaza Athénée Hôtel, the Ruern Suite exudes old-fashioned Thai tradition at its most magnificent. Use the key card to open the door, then close it to the whirl of modern Bangkok 27 stories below. Despite the in-room technological accoutrements requisite to a luxury business hotel, the Ruern Suite transports you back a hundred years in a space worthy of the Thai ruling class.

Each of the four large rooms (a total of 2,000 square feet) is paneled in teak, which provides a rich backdrop for the suite's collection of art and artifacts: gilded elephant sculptures and carved stone Buddhas painted with lotus flowers. Shimmering handwoven silks in shades of brown, gold, and crimson cover the pillows and adorn tables and beds, while a living room, dining room, and kitchen encourage dreamers to stay a while. The best place for play-acting days of old, however, is the bathrooms (that's two full and one half). In one, a pond-sized tub set with an aquamarine mosaic invites you to soak amid fragrant orchids (happily provided when you ask the floor butler to draw your bath). In the other, a teak-and-slate stall is outfitted with a copper-lined ceramic urn and dipper, should the traditional Thai drench shower be more fitting to the fantasy than the alternative standard brass fixture.

Of course, for the tourist or business traveler, the Plaza Athénée offers more conventional junior suites and deluxe chambers too. Not to mention a magnificent landscaped rooftop infinity pool lined with blue tiles, along with a full-service spa. But even in one of the "regular" rooms, a floor butler will fill your tub—and orchids will almost magically appear. Ruern Suite, $1,100; other rooms, $200-$1,800. Wireless Road, Bangkok 10330, Thailand; 662-650-8800;