Shop till you surrender to the Christmas spirit at 'Strasbourg Christmas market'
A great European festive tradition touches down at sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit
Even if Santa stalls in ASQ and international flights are grounded, certain classic Christmas celebrations will proceed nonetheless! A case in point is Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit’s initiative to recreate arguably the most celebrated of all European Christmas markets – the one that habitually pops up beneath the grand facade of Strasbourg Cathedral – smack in the middle of its erstwhile achingly chic lobby.
Christkindelsmärik (Alsatian dialect meaning “Market of the Christ Child”) is a Christmas market held annually in Strasbourg on the northern France, Rhine River-demarcated border with Germany. Pandemics permitting, it draws around 2 million visitors and hotels are booked out a year in advance. Strasbourg has been holding Christkindelsmärik since 1570, making it one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe.
The Christkindelsmärik’s Christmas tree is traditionally of imposing height, some 32.5 metres. Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit can’t quite top that but its frosty blue confection soars as high as is possible given the dimensions of the lobby, which are not inconsiderable. Of course, another thing Strasbourg is quite famous for is being the official seat of the European Parliament. But who cares about politics when there’s peace on earth and goodwill to all to spread?
“Christmas and the festive season is obviously very different this year,” reports the hotel’s GM since 2017, Oliver Schnatz.
He explains that the Christmas market culture extends through mainly France, Belgium, Luxemburg, Holland, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. “Normally a lot of Thais and expats would travel and it would also be the height of the tourist season here. But that’s not possible this year, so we thought it would be nice to recreate a little bit of European Christmas culture for everyone to experience here in the heart of Bangkok.”
Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit’s festive season decorations are customarily at the creative end of the spectrum. Last year, for instance, it took an haute couture theme.
“Every year, Sofitel hotels reimagine their Christmas décor and festivities with a unique theme that is chic, design-forward and relevant under the general umbrella of ‘Art de Noel’ – the art of Christmas,” explains Oliver. “Our theme for this year is ‘Christmas Joy’, so our idea of a Christmas market complements it perfectly.”
The appropriateness of narrowing the field down to Strasbourg is thrown into sharper relief by the fact that the first ever Sofitel was opened there back in the 1970s. Either way, Oliver is delighted how it has all come together.
“We simply showed our engineering department a few photos of Strasbourg Christmas market and they reproduced the stalls and atmosphere with remarkable accuracy.”
As for the season-centric sentiment behind the market, that’s spot on, too. “It’s been a tough time for everyone on both sides of the counter,” explains Oliver.
“Our suppliers are no exceptions and so we wanted to give them an opportunity to interact with the end-consumer directly by showing and selling their wares from our market stalls.
“We have suppliers we have been working with for years who because of the special circumstances have been suffering setbacks. So we said that if we do something, it should be together with them.”
A handful of wine suppliers will set up stalls at different times during the market season (weekends of 12-13 and 19-20 December, then Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, 24, 25, 26 December).
They will, of course, be joined by a stall ladling out mulled wine, or Glühwein, a warmed concoction of red wine, spices and fruit traditionally served at Christmas market stalls to keep people warm. The signature scent of the markets it creates will be joined by lashings of eggnog, a rich, chilled, sweetened, dairy-based beverage, traditionally made with milk, cream, sugar, whipped egg whites, and egg yolks and, for the grown-ups, some liquor, also traditionally consumed over the Christmas season.
Plus various food suppliers purveying fine cheeses, cold cuts and other imported European foods which you would normally find on a Christmas market. Not to mention delicious freshly baked sausage rolls!
Moreover, the hotel’s hot Belga Rooftop Restaurant will set up a stall to whip up genuine Belgian waffles topped with the likes of chocolate sauce, whipped cream and cherries – also very typical of European Christmas markets. Plus homemade chocolates and a special appearance by Kad Kakao (19th & 20th), the company that makes chocolate completely sourced locally, right from the cacao beans.
Naturally Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit’s full range of Christmas goodies and New Year’s hampers will be available also, from stollen and panetone to fruit cake and cookies.
Browsers are welcome to eat in and/or take away, with plenty of seating pro-vided in and around the market, also as per Christmas market culture.
Other partners being showcased include Thai silk and leather products, chiefly bags by Angela Lou, a long-time German lady Thailand fan and resident who makes her designs up among Thai crafts folk. Another partnership with Melody from Paris places fabric crib mobiles, children’s toys and teepees amid the festive bustle.
The hotel’s spa, Le Spa with L’occitane will have a stall purveying its take-away ranges of lotion balms and unguents for skin, hair and olfactory nerve endings.
“The point is that you can actually do your Christmas shopping for gifts and treats at home here,” says Oliver. “There’s something to give everyone that special Christmassy feeling.” And what of the actual Strasbourg Christmas Market in France? Cancelled.
But thankfully Strasbourg Christmas Market at Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit keeps the tradition alive, right on our doorstep.
Strasbourg Christmas Market dates: Saturday, Sunday 12-13 December Saturday, Sunday 19-20 December Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, 24, 25, 26 December 11:00 a.m. till 8:00 p.m.
MORE SOFITEL BANGKOK SUKHUMVIT CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS
@ WINE BOUTIQUE
Gather the children around to listen to a retelling of Christmas classics by Santa Claus himself. Plus magic show, gingerbread cookie decoration, face painting, balloon art, and delectable festive treats!
- Sundays 13 & 20 December
2:00 p.m. till 5:00 p.m.
THB 1,090++ per child (includes access for 1 adult)
- Family Package: THB 1,999++ (includes access for 2 adults and up to 2 children)
FESTIVE WINE & CHEESE
Relish premium artisanal cheese platters, creamy risotto, and sommelier-selected wines at this 2-hour free flow wine & cheese evening.
- Friday 18 December
7:00 p.m. till 9:00 p.m.
THB 1,390++ per person
CHRISTMAS EVE DINNER
Buffet dinner featuring roasted turkey, seafood specials, tempting desserts and Christmas carols.
- Thursday 24 December
6:00 p.m. till 10:30 p.m.
THB 2,190++ per adult
Book by 15 December for 15% discount
CHRISTMAS EVE DINNER
Belgian festive a la carte menu, including
Salmon Gravlax, Seared Scallops,
White Halibut, Moules Frites
and more. Sing along to carols and
groove with DJ Nana.
- Thursday 24 December
5:00 p.m. till 11:00 p.m. (kitchen); 5:00 p.m. till 1:00 a.m. (bar)
CHRISTMAS BRUNCH @VOILA!
Celebrate Christmas Day with your loved ones at Voila! as you indulge in roast turkey, ham, fresh seafood, and more. Delight in Christmas carols sung by our talented choir from Wannawit School.
Friday 25 December
12:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Price THB 2,190++
Book by 15th December to avail
our early bird discount of 15%
CHRISTMAS DINNER @BELGA
Experience a jolly Belgian Christmas right here in Bangkok at Belga. Chef Nico and his talented team have curated a festive menu that pairs perfectly with our signature Christmas ales from Belgium handpicked by our Master of Beer & Ceremony.
- Festive a la carte menu Friday 25 December 5:00 p.m. - 1:00 a.m. Entertainment: DJ NANA
For reservations contact tel. 0 2126 9999 ext 5034 or visit the festive desk at the lobby. Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit, 189 Sukhumvit Road Soi 13-15