There are places on this magical, mysterious earth, that cause a reaction of utter disbelief when walking in. Despite all the places you've seen, the temples, churches, ruins, movies, restaurants, bowling alleys, car parks, some places just stun you with disbelief at their perfection. The Atlanta is such a place.
Walking into the lobby, something i've been lucky to do yearly since 2008 or so, just forces you to be silent and take stock of your surroundings. Whether its the first time you push those doors open from the sweltering Soi outside, or your fiftieth time, you stop for a split second and take it all in. The air wafts heavily by, the smells from the restaurant filter into the foyer, the lobby stands so glittering and understated in its grandeur, the doors leading to the pool inviting someone to push them open, and the decadent staircase sweeping you up to the higher levels for a nights sleep on Thailands best pillows.
Sitting in the lobby waiting on a friend you'd be forgiven for thinking Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung would come sauntering down after an midday tryst. The walls hold secrets of another time, writers furiously poring over manuscripts in the antechambers, staff running up and down the stairs with crisp white sheets, the pool lilting slowly under the oppressive heat, promising cooling powers beneath its shimmering sapphire skin.
One of the greatest ironies is in fact the location of the hotel. A staunch "No-Sex Tourists" sign welcoming everyone in, and leaving no room for misunderstanding, the hotel itself is on a parallel soi to one of Bangkoks most "liberal" areas. Spilling out of countless bars are throngs of ladyboy's vying for your tourist dollar, grabbing people on the street and hurrying them into strip clubs or girlie bars along the entire Soi Nana. Funnily enough, one block away is this haven of peace and purity. A hotel that frowns on trouble-makers, discourages children unless they are "well behaved", has a deep affection for pets of all kinds and houses turtles, dogs, cats and who knows what else in it's acre of heaven.
The staff are not overly friendly, not dour, not cloying, they just let you be. The waitresses in the restaurant are the same, except for Anong who has been there since 1973 and has the cheekiest sense of humour. It's not unusual for her to come and start joking with you when you're having dinner. One of the funniest things she said to us was a couple of years back when myself and 2 friends (all in our early 40s, she is over 70) were sitting eating and she said "Why don't you all love me? Ah! You are all too old anyway". She is also known for helping you season your food to the right "Thai taste" with the plethora of condiments on the table. The food at the restaurant is top notch, and very reasonable for the portions you get. The ambience is perfect and I love heading down in the morning to drink a cup of tea and read the newspaper before the days plan unfolds.
Days here can be spent writing, laying by the pool with the book you still haven't read, ordering a cold beer when the midday sun becomes overbearing, or heading down the soi to catch the skytrain off to a million different sights and sounds. It's a short walk down to Soi 11-13 where there are still some bars and restaurants that haven't been turned into condo's, but otherwise the skytrain will take you anywhere you need go in air conditioned bliss.
This hotel truly is a testament to holding values and not compromising. I doubt there are many like it in the world, hanging on to that regal charm and saudade that fills your being when entering. A sadness that comforts instead of upsets, a deep longing for a time gone by when things were different.
If the world is moving too fast, book yourself a few nights here and allow the sensual atmosphere to quell the restlessness completely.
For reservations: https://www.theatlantahotelbangkok.com/
"Sadness is tempered by umami, grief by the motion of slurping, hope restored in the ladling of glistening, fatty broth"
CITIES / Places