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Author: A Potato in a Rice Field
Wanderlust Travel Blog of the Year ’13
The rooftop dining experience in Bangkok is a must-do for any visitor to the city, topping the list alongside the much cliched floating markets or old city temple tours. Even if it’s only a quick drink at the rooftop bar, it is still an experience not to be missed. However, choosing where to do this can be a little bit daunting as, with almost every rooftop restaurant in Bangkok, the cocktails will start at around 500 Baht. Hence the resulting bill for a night out can be potentially damaging. We have shopped around over the years, hoping to find a bargain, but all the better have been similar in pricing. Therefore we have looked for the best overall experience using three clinching factors; value for money, the backdrop views, and the mingling clientele. Each can make or break the experience. For Fanfan’s birthday we go with the Vertigo Rooftop Restaurant on the top tiers of the Banyan Tree Hotel, and are both sincerely impressed.
For those antsy on the prices I suggest the set menus where you know the final bill before stepping from the elevator. Lately we’ve had too many unexpected bills crop in at the end of the night and to rewind one year prior on Fanfan’s last birthday (not at Vertigo) we found an additional 500 Baht for Evian water, which we didn’t even know we were quaffing. Anyway, there’s no chance of this here, unless you want it of course, and this makes the night more relaxed. So the set menus start at 2,700 Baht pp for the 3 course menu and paired with complimenting wines it goes to 3,800 Baht pp. For our visit we go with the 4 course set menu (3,600 Baht) paired with the wines at 4,900 Baht pp. The four courses include appetizer, soup, main and dessert, and each course comes perfectly matched with individual wines, and a sweet port wine with dessert. Highlights include the marble 5 Wagyu steak, the lobster bisque, and, all of it really. In all it was great value for money as far as rooftop restaurants go in Bangkok.
For views the layout is smart sharing panoramic vistas of the surrounding skyline using tiered levels which maximize views to all the diners. While we weren’t actually the closest table to the building edge, it felt as if we were, as the table next to us was also below us. This not only allows for fantastic views, but it makes the restaurant feel less squashed and claustrophobic, and ultimately the dining experience feels more intimate. Of course this is important for rooftop restaurants as the sole reason for many being there is for the views. To ensure the better tables I do suggest booking in advance, and asking for them. On our visit we also book for early in the evening (18:15) to catch the sunset over the city and to beat the crowds. It worked well.
Rooftop restaurants do come with a pretentious stigma attached, but here I find the opposite. The service and ambiance is comfortable, relaxed and enjoyable which honestly surprised me. I am often anxious that we may be under dressed, or possibly feel out of place with these stereotyped ‘Hi-So’ dining experiences but, in the end, we couldn’t have felt more comfortable. Being part of the Banyan Tree Hotel there will also be tourists so there are some nice touristy touches, such as the free photo book to takeaway, which is great for any diner on a special occasion. In all the clientele was mixed with young couples, families, discerning expats, people from all over of the globe. It will also likely be busy on most nights so be sure to make advanced reservation, and if you fail to find a table the attached Moon Bar does some top notch cocktails with similar views, and no reservations necessary.