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My Bangkok: Socialite Pau Bhanubandh
Bangkok’s former ‘City Lady’ offers inside tips on how to hang with the ‘it’ crowd, and smoke too
You’re not going to find newsreader, business tycoon, model and socialite Sikanya Bhanubandh sitting on the side of the road eating street food and drinking Thai whiskey.
Sikanya -- Pau to her friends -- used to present the Channel 5 show “City Lady," in which she would scour Bangkok for exclusive bars and restaurants.
Between that, and a contact list as long as a Soviet-era queue for furry hats, she is well placed to recommend Bangkok’s best drinking and dining venues to those who want to hang with high society.
Not a ‘somebody’? Pau can help
“Aqua at the Four Seasons is always the ‘it’ place with the right crowd of young professionals," says Pau. "Anyone who’s a somebody in Thailand goes there and it’s very relaxing. One of the best things is, you can smoke. It’s outside but it’s not hot because it’s undercover and has air-conditioning."
“What I really like is you can order food from every restaurant in the Four Seasons,” she says, moving on to her secondary priority. “If you’re not dressed right to go to Madison or if I want Shintaro, the Japanese, I can order that too.”
Pau’s family will open the Marriott Renaissance on Ratchadamri Road between the Four Seasons and the Grand Hyatt later this year, which has sharpened her assessment of the city’s high-end options.
“My dad took me to hotels all the time and that’s how I came to really like to stay in them and go to their bars. It means I know more about the hotels in Bangkok than other places.”
Smoking is bad, but…
Zuk Bar at the Sukhothai on South Sathorn Road also meets with the Syracuse graduate’s approval.
“It’s just been renovated, and there’s a smoking section now. ... I know smoking is bad but for a bar, if you don’t have that and people have to walk out onto the street, then it’s not as appealing as having a nice section where people can sit and smoke.”
Park your Bentley and come out and play
In addition to Distil -- a lounge/bar at Lebua Hotel serving Iranian caviar and Atlantic lobsters -- Pau enjoys kicking back with a drink at The Eugenia on Sukhumvit Soi 31, which she discovered while filming her "City Lady" show.
“Not many people know about it,” the one-time Chanel model explains. “It’s a boutique hotel with only a few rooms. It has an English feel, packed with antiques … it’s very cozy and private.”
Fashion editors and the Thai elite often visit and a Bentley or Rolls Royce is usually parked out the front, she adds.
Somewhere else that “everyone" (in the narrowest sense of the word) heads is a lounge attached to the Italian restaurant Falabella, within the Royal Bangkok Sports Club, called Monkey Bar.
Pau, who clearly has more social opportunities than most of us, adds that the bands are mainly Thai, which is reflected in the clientele. And unlike the ridiculously exclusive sports club, the huddled masses are allowed to book tables at Falabella and Pau says members can invite friends to Monkey Bar.
Not just a party girl
Rather than give the impression Pau is a rampant socialite who is only happy if the champagne is flowing and Prince Harry is passed out in the corner wearing an inappropriate fancy dress costume, it is worth noting her charitable work.
She volunteers with the Emergency Home and Relief Fund for Women and Children in Distress, a shelter near the old Don Muang airport that helps rape victims and women with HIV or unwanted pregnancies. Pau has boosted awareness for the busy home by organizing campaigns through the chain of Kipling stores she manages.
So if you happen to see Pau relaxing in one of her ‘in’ venues, at least you’ll have more to chat about than just where in town does the finest linguine.
The answer -- and perhaps not surprisingly -- would be her Italian restaurant, Boqueria, in All Seasons Place on Wireless Road.
Four Seasons Hotel, 155 Rajadamri Road, BTS: Chidlom or Rajdamri, tel +66 (0)2 126-8866
Sukhothai Hotel,13/3 South Sathorn Road, tel +66 (0)2 344 8888
1055 Silom Road, BTS: Saphan Taksin, tel: +66 (0)2 624 9999
67 Soi Sukhumvit 31, BTS: Phrom Phong, tel +66 (0)2 259 9011
Royal Bangkok Sports Club, 100 Rajdamri Road, tel +66 (0)2 252 5131
Ground Floor, All Seasons Place, Wireless Road, BTS: Ploenchit, tel +66 (0)2 685 3930
Emergency Home and Relief Fund
501/1 Dechatungka Road, Don Muang, tel +66 (0)2 929 2301