With gentrification sweeping through Bangkok’s Chinatown and Instagram-appropriate cocktail bars popping up like mushrooms, the opening of Ba Hao could’ve easily been dismissed as yet another one. However, there is something about this transformed shophouse on Soi Nana (the other Soi Nana, that is), that makes me believe it’s worth the hype.
Founded by a group of Thai friends with backgrounds in hospitality, design, and architecture, Ba Hao is a “co-living space” featuring a cocktail bar, a living room, and two spacious bedrooms in a renovated 40-year old shophouse. Translated from Chinese, Ba Hao means ‘house number eight’, a nod to the building’s address and the Chinese heritage that this area is steeped in.
Best bedroom in town
I had the pleasure of spending a night in the Santhipap room on the top floor, which could quite easily be a contender for the title of ‘best bedroom in town’. With its big glass doors and perfectly placed window overlooking the golden Wat Traimit pagoda, it proves that you don’t need to be on the 37th floor for sweeping city views.
The interior design is dubbed ‘contemporary Thai’: a perfect mix of modern Thai statement pieces and mid-century furniture staged against an exposed-brick wall. The subtle shiny finish on the bricks and the warm wood ceiling give the whole space a glossy appeal, which is quite a feat if you imagine the state that this shophouse was in only months prior to Ba Hao’s opening. The big-leafed plants, huge mirror, and retro lampshades provide the finishing touch, making this by far the most stylish stay in Chinatown.
My favorite part, however, was the huge balcony that spans the entire length of the room. Despite the sweltering heat (mind you, I visited on one of Bangkok’s hottest days of 2017), this was a perfect spot for a sundowner and views over Bangkok’s old-town skyline.
Overnight guests also have access to the shared living room on the second floor. Here, you’ll find a wide selection of free-to-grab snacks and a well-stocked fridge providing non-alcoholic refreshments. During the daytime, this place is a perfect hangout or spot to get some work done. Breakfast is also served here, for which you can take a pick from the menu in your room. Don’t expect any Western dishes, though – true to its theme, Ba Hao sources their breakfast options from various street vendors around the neighborhood.
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Cocktails and more
Being the boutique hotel aficionado that I am, it’s obvious that I’m excited about this stylish stay in Chinatown. But even if you’re not spending the night, you have plenty of reasons to drop by. The neon-lit bar on the ground floor is, even amongst the stiff competition down the street, one of the coolest kids on the block.
While most bars put a lot of thought on the drink list, it seems that Ba Hao has put the focus on the nibbles that go along with it. The Mandarin Oriental-trained co-owner curated an interesting menu of bar snacks and small dishes, taking cues from Chinese street food classics such as sesame dumplings and laobing (Chinese pancake). Options include spicy duck wontons, coriander ice cream and silky soy pudding.
The drink list isn’t too shabby, though. While the list features only 4 cocktails, each one of them is designed by some of Bangkok’s best mixologists. Staying true to the theme, all of the cocktails have an old-school Chinese twist. I loved the Five Rivers 五條河流, a rum-based cocktail with hints of cinnamon and anise (and a very clever use of ice cubes, which you should see for yourself) and the Forbidden Gold 禁金, made with peach liquor and Tsingtao beer. Negroni lovers will probably appreciate the Opium 鴉片, but the taste of the Chinese medicinal liquor might be an acquired one. Apart from cocktails, you can choose from a small range of craft beers and ciders, too.
What I loved most about the Ba Hao is that it clearly shows how much care and attention has been put into even the littlest of details. From the carefully curated selection of vintage Oriental nick-nacks scattered around the building to the well-designed menu of breakfast options in the guest room, everything is completely on brand and no shortcuts have been taken.
- You wouldn’t be the first one to confuse Chinatown’s ‘Soi Nana’ with its seedier namesake on Sukhumvit. When taking a taxi, make sure you direct the driver to the right one!
- The neon light attracts hipsters like a fly trap, so if you’re visiting on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night, make sure you call ahead to reserve a table.
- You’re in the middle of Bangkok’s bustling trading district, and tuk-tuks start racing through the street from very early in the morning. If you’re a light sleeper, bring earplugs.
8 Soi Nana Mitrichit Road,
Pomprap Sattruphai, Bangkok
+081 454 4959
Rates start at US$ 85/night – Check availability on Airbnb