Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, is a city favourite of mine and many for long weekend escapes. Food is the main draw, as are the massages — thanks to parlours at almost every street corner — and endless mazes of alleys, markets, and malls to cater to every shopping need, want or fancy. Welcoming more visitors than any other city in the world, most tourists often congregate at Siam Square, the main shopping and entertainment area; myself included. So much so that I’d never ventured west towards the Chao Phraya river. Until now.
On a recent trip, I had the pleasure of staying at The Siam, a black and white beauty of a hotel that sits along the city side of the waterway in the Dusit district. Before my arrival, I Google-mapped the property, seeing as I was unfamiliar with the area. Noting that it was a long way from downtown, I wondered if its location would pose an inconvenience for my wanting to be near the city centre. I learnt that my apprehension was for naught. But more on that later.
Eagerly anticipating our arrival at the hotel, the first sight of this urban sanctuary swiftly, and subtlely, surpassed my expectations. Greeted with a lotus-like fountain set in a small courtyard, the picturesque scene was framed with green leafy ferns swaying serenely in the gentle breeze. Just like that, the chaos and cacophony of the city faded away.
Designed with classic Oriental influences and Art Deco aesthetics in mind, I noted that the colonial architecture further lent to the colour scheme of black, white, cream, grey and neutrals; as well as natural textures like wood, weave, leather and stone throughout the property as we made my way along marble corridors to our Mae Nam Suite.
One of 39 rooms over six categories, the suite is the second biggest of all the suites, the smallest being the Siam Suite at 860 square feet. The Mae Nam boasted 970 square feet across four enclosures, with a living area overlooking the verdant gardens and a double vanity area and bathtub sitting adjacent to individual shower and toilet facilities, both of which bookended the sleeping area that featured a super-sized king bed.
“Greeted with a lotus-like fountain set in a small courtyard, the picturesque scene was framed with green leafy ferns swaying serenely in the gentle breeze. Just like that, the chaos and cacophony of the city faded away.”
All high wooden ceilings and an aesthetic inspired by amusing wall frames of Thai beauty queens, Oriental antiquities and original 19th and early 20th-century artwork, the décor was impressive and borderline excessive. I later learnt that the property was home to owner, creative director and celebrity, Krissada Sukosol Clapp’s collection of antiques.
As if time stood still in our black and white nest, we ended up being slightly late for an evening boat cruise ride that our personal butler, Tong had booked for me upon check-in. As one of the ‘experiences’ that the hotel offers — muay thai classes and the inking of traditional Thai tattoos among others — it was refreshing and a relief to get off the busy roads and discover Bangkok in a way I’d never experienced before. Our tardiness also meant that we were the last guests to board the boat, which afforded me the opportunity to note a staff-guest ratio that rivalled other luxury hotel groups like the Aman. As eight staff standing some 15 steps apart from one another lined our path all the way to the hotel’s private pier, it was just the first of many instances over the course of our stay that made me realise that the hotel went out of its way to deliver impeccable service. Tong, our 24-year old butler who had only been working at The Siam for eight months, was a star — gracious, patient and cheerful, his smile never left his face.
“All high wooden ceilings and an aesthetic inspired by amusing wall frames of Thai beauty queens, Oriental antiquities and original 19th and early 20th-century artwork, the décor was impressive and borderline excessive.”
After a pleasant dinner just minutes walk from our drop-off point at the pier at Pak Khlong Talat, Bangkok’s 24-hour flower market, we couldn’t wait to return to the hotel for what I knew would be the highlight of our evening: a movie screening in the hotel’s private theatre. Surrounded by Hollywood memorabilia, including an E.T. model that was used as a promotion tool in a Thai theatre in the 1980s, we switched off the vintage klieg lights, found our sweet spots in our two-seater couch, and tuned out everything beyond the room as if we were right at home.
Regrettably, we only had one night in the hotel, so we didn’t get the opportunity to make use of the intoxicatingly-scented spa (we got a whiff while walking past), gym or hotel restaurants (there are three); except for breakfast the next morning at the sumptuously decorated Deco Bar and Bistro. Instead, we spent most of the time enjoying our ridiculously comfortable room and chalking up as many hours as possible at the Instagram-worthy riverside infinity pool. Even after check-out.
As we whiled away on daybeds overlooking the river, I forgot about the activities I’d ambitiously planned to pack in that weekend. I was far away from the city and it didn’t matter. I was experiencing the best of historic and present-day Bangkok.
Where: The Siam Hotel (A Member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts)
Khao Rd, Khwaeng Wachira Phayaban,
Khet Dusit, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10300, Thailand
Phone: +66 2 206 6999
Note– The critic was invited by The Siam Hotel, Bangkok . But all the opinions expressed herewith are her own.