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A Historic Bar Gets A 21st Century Facelift

Set in Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, The Bamboo Bar has been sensitively redesigned in homage to its rich history.

A Historic Bar Gets A 21st Century Facelift

The Bamboo Bar dates back to 1953 when it opened its doors in a tiny room within Oriental Hotel Bangkok’s renowned Authors Wing.

In 1972, it moved to its current location in the hotel’s River Wing where it has since been frequented by the world’s rich and famous and Thailand’s high society. Patrons include Ray Charles, Sean Connery, Louis Armstrong, Audrey Hepburn and Mick Jagger, to name just a few.

The original Bamboo Bar (archival photo)

Recently, the bar has undergone yet another major refurbishment inspired by its rich past. Thai studio P49 DEESIGN have paid homage to the establishment’s namesake with their extensive use of bamboo; the material has been used on the bar, chairs, and as finishes on the wall. Thai silk cushions with bamboo prints also grace the sofas. Above, the ceiling is a contemporary design featuring vintage mirrors framed in black bamboo, and stands in contrast to the colonial-style, rattan ceiling fans.

“Our objective was to weave the past and the future,” says the hotel’s General Manager, Amanda Hyndman. “Old friends will recognise pieces throughout the space that create a real sense of place.”


Some of the bar’s original black rattan armchairs have been restored, while replicas of rattan seating shown in early 20th century photos have been recreated, and stand alongside an aged leather Chesterfield-style banquette and colonial-style wingback chairs. Additionally, the designers have managed to retain some of the original tiger skin prints on the bar stools and chairs.

The walls serve as yet another visual tribute to The Bamboo Bar’s legacy: it’s lined with historical images of the hotel and bar, and photos of many of the establishment’s former patrons. Other artefacts include jazz instruments and explorer memorabilia.


“The overall mood is one of a nostalgic explorer’s den, like before. It is a marriage between the colonial era and contemporary design,” says Hyndman.

While paying homage to the establishment’s past, the newly refurbished interior also meets the changing needs and preferences of the bar’s current clientele with more intimate seating areas that flow seamlessly into an alfresco area and the adjacent Cigar Divan.


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