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Our Other Life in Rural Thailand
After ten days of trying to avoid the wrath of spiders and other insects in rural Isaan, I find myself thrown back into Bangkok – a city unashamedly made up of international brands and in-your-face consumerism. My chosen stay is at the boutique Maduzi Hotel, yet despite its central location in the heart of the busy Sukhumvit area, it seemingly goes out of its way to avoid being noticed. Pass by its white-washed walls and green hedges, and you may not realise the hotel is even there at all. Walk-ins are forbidden, the hotel adopting a strict reservations-only policy. A lone guard sits by the gate. “Check in?” he asks me. “Yes,” I reply. He takes my bag, slides open the gate and leads me through to the hotel entrance. It all feels very secretive – and therein lies the hotel’s appeal. This is ’boutique’ in the truest sense of the word: secluded, quiet, escapism.
Despite being 39 degrees and glaringly bright outside, the corridors of the Maduzi are cool, dark and tastefully decorated. Family run, the design is unmistakeably Asian, influenced by owner heritage and their own travel experiences. My ‘classic’ room – the smallest in the hotel yet still a whopping 49m2 – is an escape from the heat, the crowds, the city. You can’t hear the outside world. The décor is inviting, clean, elegant. Most of all, it’s been thought about. Soft lighting throughout the room, no garish main overhead light. (I counted 11 small spotlights in the main bedroom alone but stopped counting when I realised I was being weird.) Motion sensitive lights fade on and off as you enter one area and leave another. Clean-cut lines divide the space, with smooth wood panelling guiding you towards the bathroom area with its huge jacuzzi tub. I turn on the taps and get a surprise when the water flows down from a discreet hole in the ceiling. I’m aware I’m talking a lot about design here, but it really is very clever.
Having lived in Japan for three years, bacon became somewhat of a novelty – with me virtually emptying the shelves of the stuff upon my last visit home to Northern Ireland at Christmas. On my first morning then, the American ‘power’ breakfast with its promise of crispy bacon is a no-brainer, washed down with excellent coffee. On the second morning, I give in and opt for the Maduzi’s Japanese breakfast: steamed chicken in a white sesame sauce complete with seasonal sides. As it tuns out, the head chef, Yuya Okuda, is Japanese, and it is clearly evident. The food is very, very good, my only regret is not being able to check out the restaurant – but if some of the room service dishes are anything to go by, I’m sure it’s something quite special. (Grilled Australian beef rib-eye with black truffle sauce grabbed my attention).
Logistically, The Maduzi Hotel has everything you could wish for: flexible check-in and check out (as early as 6am and as late as 8pm), with amenities that include a 42” TV with Bose surround-sound that enabled me to watch Bruce Willis throwing Hans Gruber off the top of Nakatomi Tower in Die Hard. This, with the included free minibar, is my idea of a good night. Location wise, it really couldn’t be better – a mere five-minute walk from Asok BTS, and the Sukhumvit MRT stations and directly across the road from Benjakiti park, the second largest park in Bangkok. For shopping, the enormous Terminal 21 shopping mall is a lot of fun, and if you’re that way inclined, Soi Cowboy is also just 7-10mins walk from the hotel. Maduzi literally translates as “Please come and see.” I’m certainly glad I did.