Amari Watergate marks 28 years with a major transformation

More refurbishments are in pipeline

Pratunam may not be your first idea for a getaway in the city but Amari Watergate Bangkok proves to be a respite from the hustle and bustle, and a convenient base for city exploration, thanks to its prime location in Bangkok's shopping district.

First Impressions

Watergate delivers a sense of arrival through its four-storey lobby hall, which makes the round entryway table with minimal white phan phum look puny (note the bilingual alliteration). My eyes are automatically drawn to a ceiling installation titled "Water Of Life", which, in layman's terms, is a huge chandelier containing 847 crystal drops, a nod to the nearby Khlong Saen Saeb and the hotel’s address. They are beautifully hung from the high ceiling, coming down like glittering rain. The lobby hall is abuzz with liveliness with incoming and outgoing international guests along with a cacophony of sounds from restaurants, tailor shops and events being held.

The check-in experience can be even more special if your room comes with access to the Executive Lounge on the 32nd floor where you can reap many perks while enjoying the city's skyline in style. More on that later.

Watergate does away with the old normal of riding a lift. You know, pressing a button, getting in, swiping your card, finding your floor from rows of buttons and pressing it. Here you can simply use your card on a panel and choose which floor you want to go to from a selection of floors relevant to your stay. It will then show you which elevator will pick you up and once inside you just wait to be sent to your floor. 

The streamlined elevator experience isn't the only new thing. Their 202 Premium Rooms, mid-tier type, out of a total of 564 have been refreshed in contemporary Thai flair, as well as nine units of top-tier two-bedroom Corner Suites. The new interiors are inspired by life and culture along Khlong Saen Saeb, the city’s central and historic canal. 

The Premium Room I stayed in comes in at a respectable 40m² with a great view of the city through its large window, looking relaxed and inviting with several Thai touches. Thai flower motifs can be spotted on the rug, headboard and wall panels. The open clothes rail is said to be a nod to similar ones you find at countless cloth shops in Pratunam while the shape of the custom-made pouffe is inspired by a sticky rice basket. The sleek bathroom comes with double vanities, a large walk-in rain shower and a big backlit mirror. Cosy yet stylish. 

The renovation covers more than 20 meeting/event spaces across four floors, as well as the pool and terrace on the eighth floor. You can arrange for a gathering of as small as 12 people in the Executive Boardroom or 1,200 people in the Watergate Ballroom, which is just shy of 1,000m². 

Joining the sustainability trend that many hotels have embraced, Watergate offers a B100 hotel credit to guests who opt out of housekeeping. It is also developing its own garden and working with the Scholars Of Sustenance Foundation to combat food waste.    

Staying In

I snuck into the Executive Lounge, which gives you a sense of escape despite being smack in the busy shopping district. This is where you can indulge in the downtown views from the 32nd floor. The double-volume lounge feels very spacious and, if you want an unfiltered city view as a backdrop for your IG shots (and aren't acrophobic), brave the balcony/smokers' area. The cityscape from high above is simply breathtaking. 

You can reap many perks so long as you stay in Executive Club rooms and suites. These include exclusive check-in and check-out at the lounge, breakfast service with less crowd, free afternoon tea, free evening cocktail and canapés and free soft beverages throughout the day.

If you're eligible, I suggest foregoing breakfast at the lounge for breakfast at Amaya Food Gallery as the selections are much more at the latter. You definitely should make use of the lounge's cocktail-and-canapé session, which lasts two hours, 6-8pm. With the likes of Mussel gratin, Chicken samosa and Steamed shrimp wanton as savoury choices on top of salads in shot glasses, fruits, cold cuts, desserts and free-flow cocktails, whiskey and wine, the session is practically dinner with a great view. 

If you enjoy eating (guilty!), Watergate has several outlets to try. The breakfast service at Amaya Food Gallery is abundant with choices of international cuisines to help you kick start the day. If you have a really big appetite, return for seafood night (B1,999 per person but 20% off with participating credit cards), which takes place every Saturday from 6-10pm. It's four hours of seafood on ice, soft-shell crab with curry, black pepper or chilli sauce, Thai favourites, grilled meat or seafood, pizza, pasta and more. Each diner will get half a lobster and you should save some room for an array of desserts, which include several Thai sweets. 

Enthusiasts of Italian cuisine should drop by Prego whose original branch opened in Koh Samui in 2003. Chef Marco offers authentic Italian dishes, including his famous recipe Risotto alla montanara, one of the "100 Best Risottos", according to the Gallo Guide. It's a bible for best risottos compiled by Riso Gallo, one of Italy's oldest rice companies. You'll have to ask for it in advance though. 

     Burn off calories in the free-form pool on the landscaped terrace, which has been completely renovated. You can also find a fully-equipped fitness centre, pool bar and Breeze Spa on the eighth floor. Early birds can catch complimentary poolside yoga classes from 8-9am.

Going Out 

Given its very central location, your shopping choices are aplenty, ranging from wholesale-price high-street clothes in Pratunam to high-end fashion pieces at flagship stores at nearby glossy malls (and more along the BTS line). The same goes for dining choices.

For alternative explorations, I suggest a very affordable DIY boat tour of Khlong Saen Saeb using the Pratunam pier, a six-minute walk from the hotel. The piers along the khlong connect you to many more attractions, meriting an article of its own. 

At the risk of sounding mooteloo, you can go on a pilgrimage, too, as there are nine shrines dedicated to Hindu deities around the Ratchaprasong area, in case you want to end 2022 on an auspicious note.

Final Verdict

Amari Watergate Bangkok's complete transformation is an ongoing process as the remaining rooms are being done up. If you've stayed at Watergate before, you will be experiencing something new. Watergate offers several reasonably priced packages such as “Prepaid Saver”, which starts from B3,600 per night with a 14-day advance booking or “Create Your Own Holiday”, which allows guests to choose three benefits during their stay for B6,000 per night. Go to amari.com. 

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