Transporting guests to another time and place
The term “destination hotel” is used most often to describe an accommodation that is as alluring as the area that surrounds it. The Siam, a luxurious city resort located on the banks of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River (just north of the Krung Thon Bridge), is, without doubt, just such a place. Guests here—whether they be newcomers to Thailand, or city residents splurging on a stay-cation—are transported to another time and place as soon as they enter this opulent but welcoming hotel. The “time” is the Art Deco jazz age of the 1920s, and the “place” is a sepia-toned, old-fashioned Bangkok—snazzier but simpler.
The design architect responsible for the overall look of The Siam’s interior and exterior is none other than Bill Bensley, a veritable superstar in the world of tropical hotels. The properties that bear his touch are absolute masterpieces of elegance, taste, and attention to detail. His handiwork here is first evident in the simple black, white, and silvery grey colour scheme that dictates the look of almost all the floors, walls, and bedroom and hallway furniture, most notably in the 16 lavish 80 sq.m Siam Suites (astoundingly they are the smallest of all the hotel’s mere 39 units, which also include pool villas, larger suites, and a deluxe private cottage).
Within my second floor Siam Suite the clever use of interspersed floor-to-ceiling wall mirrors makes the room seem even more spacious than it already is. Meanwhile the geometric designs in the beautiful black and white tiling, the deep slingback freestanding white bathtub, as well as the sleek black furniture and grey-toned armchairs and sofa, all combine to make you feel like you’re Noël Coward (or, if you prefer, Great Garbo) on a tropical getaway. In addition, the abundance of antiques, curios, and artifacts in the room’s polished glassed cupboards adds both a homey touch and a historical feel. For my own brief visit I am even assigned a personal butler, who first gives me an informative tour of the grounds, and later assures me that he is available at all times to take care of any trifling needs I may have.
The facilities at The Siam include fitness gym, boxing ring, outdoor infinity pool, riverfront bar, indoor and outdoor restaurant, billiard table, and meeting rooms, but more interestingly there is a stately library full of museum-worthy antiques, a private screening room decorated with vintage cinema projection gear, and—my favourite—a sun-filled solarium with a working record player and a selection of playable vinyl LPs. The décor here evokes a sort of big game hunters club circa 1910, complete with oversize leather chairs, taxidermized birds in domed glass cases, a stuffed crocodile, a leopard pelt, retro jazz posters, and yet more eclectic antiques and curios.
Another highlight facility is the Opium Spa by Sodashi, which offers solo or couple’s suites with steam rooms, saunas and Jacuzzis. Visitors can choose from facial, body, and massage therapies—I opt for the recommended, and intriguingly titled, one-hour Muay Thai Massage—or create their own tailored multi-day spa package. But even if you choose not to indulge in a treatment, don’t miss viewing the spa’s extravagant 3-storey, open entry area (the Opium Den as it’s called), complete with indoor koi pond and wraparound couches. It’s breathtaking!
Truth be told, it’s all quite breathtaking, and even just walking to Chon Thai, the hotel’s riverside Thai restaurant, is made more special by a trellised shaded passageway overgrowing with beautiful foliage. Meanwhile the restaurant itself is made up of a collection of old teak buildings once owned by the legendary Jim Thompson—yet another link with historic Siam. The homes were dismantled, taken from their original location in Ayutthaya, and reassembled here, and the upper floors of these perfectly restored dwellings serve as beautiful private dining rooms—but having a meal at ground level, overlooking the river, is just as pleasant.
And as the restaurant’s background music plays—a very cool mix of old Thai jazz-era tunes—I sit back with a refreshing gin cocktail (the Kafir Lime Fizz) and wait for my Jungle curry with sea bass, and Wok-fried chayote with garlic, chili and oyster sauce. However, I’m just a tiny bit jealous of the couple I see enjoy their 10-course Chef’s Table privately prepared dinner, just one of the special promotions the restaurant offers.
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3/2 Thanon Khao
Tel: 02 206 6999
Know Before You Go
The Siam has its own dedicated river pier, offering a private, 25-minute speedboat shuttle to and from the Sathorn Central Pier (at Saphan Taksin BTS station), but it’s not a regularly scheduled service so reservations must be made in advance.