If Noël Coward was holidaying in Thailand, he'd book into The Siam hotel in Bangkok, a swelligant, dandy affair inspired by the jazzy art deco era. Vintage posters, gramophones and travel trunks pepper this poised pad, which boasts an unbeatable location right on the Chao Phraya River. Wow-worthy extras include the city's only pool villas, a spa, screening room, cooking school and muay Thai boxing ring.
Unbeatable location, right on the Chao Phraya River
Seductive trad-modern Thai styling, with elegant art and antiques
Spacious, river-view rooms and Bangkok's first pool villas
Screening room, spa and the only muay Thai boxing ring in a hotel
$100 spa credit
In the know
Also need to know:
Smoking is allowed in outdoor public areas only. A three-night minimum stay applies between 21 December 2014 and 3 January 2015.Get active with a bout of muay Thai boxing, then chill out in the Opium Spa by Sodashi, which combines soothing treatments with a serene relaxation space. Come evening, the screening room beckons with its retro cinema seats.
Binoculars for scoping river boats; yoga gear for sun salutations on the terrace; a camera for snapping the exquisite antiques and art (we love the rare travel books and prints).
Panama hats, silk suits and Twenties-inspired dresses in keeping with the Great Gatsby vibe.
Mr and Mrs Smith reviews
One of the most essential aspects of design is its ability to transport you, to alter perception and to help give context to human experiences. At last the urban retreat – once considered an oxymoron – has been transformed into a delightful reality. Mr Smith and I are devout fans of mini spa breaks and we appreciate every aspect of design that transitions you from hectic city life into a respite from the modern world. The Siam takes this to an entirely new level – and how.
Bangkok hotels tend to be sombre skyscrapers, so imagine our excitement when we discover this boutique beauty. From the instant you arrive, and you’re greeted by your private butler, the extraordinary happens. As you climb the stairs and enter the foyer, there’s a hint of the magic to come. Normally after a long flight Mr Smith and I are beating hotel staff away from our luggage and wishing that the registration process and swiping of credit cards could be more streamlined so that we can just get our belongings and ourselves to our room to unpack and decompress. This time we’re begging the butler to slow down as he whisks us past reception directly to our suite to pop the first bottle of chilled bubbly – it’s a lesson in Thai grace, charm and ease. Exploring the public areas to have piqued our curiosity will have to wait…
We’re in a light-filled Riverview Suite – what an off-the-charts pleasure. Next time we’ll try one of the separate pool villas – a first for Bangkok. Set right on the Chao Phraya River in the exclusive royal Dusit district, this intimate 39-room retreat blends a coolly contemporary low-rise building with heritage Jim Thompson teak houses. We spend our working week in hotels that are beautifully designed and well appointed, but the Siam is unexpected for its individual style. From the generous layout to the subtle detailing and meticulously curated artwork you sense that this room is unlike any other and the owners – Thai pop star Krissada Clapp and his family of ‘musical hoteliers’–have laboured with architect Bill Bensley to create a truly personalised experience for every guest. We don’t want to spoil too much of the surprise.
After a bottle of champagne and a lost hour mesmerised by the river view and the artwork/photography, we venture out. Another hour evaporates before we reach the pool – about 400 metres from the room. By now you’re starting to understand that our 48-hour Bangkok adventure is transitioning into a cultural odyssey. The reason? The Sukosol Clapp family avidly collects artifacts and antiques. The main atrium of the building is surrounded by an exquisitely housed collection of Han dynasty pottery, regional Thai artifacts and 18th- and 19th-century curios. This may sound a little random but the fascinating collection is elegantly edited and the hotel feels more like a private gallery or museum.
Eventually we reach the Hollywood Hills-esque swimming pool feeling culturally elevated and inspired. Nestled on the riverbank and surrounded by perfect gardens, the immaculately maintained leisure area continues a monochromatic theme. I suggest a swim before breakfast and that you try kickboxing in one of the best-equipped hotel gyms I’ve seen – how many places offer a proper Muay Thai boxing ring? Late afternoon and we head to the Opium Spa to find ourselves in a different tranquility. The signature Thai massage soothes away jetlag and muscle aches – I recommend stocking up on the Australian Sodashi products too.
As the sun goes down we find ourselves on the Siam’s own wharf floating over the river, a perfect gin and tonic in hand; this vibrant city is starting to take on its buzzing nighttime persona. We’re about to have a quiet dinner at Chon Thai Restaurant when the manager suggests we take the hotel’s Cipriani-style private launch, crack open a bottle of something moreish and enjoy a cruise along the bustling river. Best suggestion from a GM ever. If, like us, you’re lucky enough to be the only guests in the boat too, this is a seriously stunning way to see the city. Few rivers are as animated and dynamic as Bangkok’s. The option to hop off along the riverbank is a bonus – but we decide to stay on board – it’s been a long week and we feel no guilt relaxing. Historical palaces, temples, contemporary monoliths create a contrasting architectural landscape – what a backdrop. Mr Smith and I fall asleep to the gentle rock of the boat. Was it the tranquil evening on the waterway, getting our Zen on at the Opium Spa or the wine? You’ll have to test it yourself to find out.
After our enchanting river nap we plump for in-room dining – this can be a way to ruin a good hotel evening, but not at the Siam… delicious and romantic. Skip now to day two. Next up: the impressive breakfast at Chon Thai, the restaurant we’d missed out on the night before. Don’t you dare think it’ll be a buffet – here there’s a menu of healthy and decadent dishes. Then another lazy day ensues. Mr Smith spends the morning discovering art collections located in other parts of the hotel while I peruse design and history books in the library and screening room. Slight guilt from our lethargy sets in – so after a languid lunch poolside we leave the property for a stroll around the historic Dusit neighbourhood.
Café Cha lures us back to indulge in cakes and pastries and the famous in-house Elephant Dung coffee. (Note to all: the complimentary kickboxing class in the morning means you don’t need to count calories later.) Adjacent to the café and lobby is Curio, which sells everything from antique tribal jewellery to fashion – and the proceeds from some of the gift-shop goods support the indigenous Thai elephants. The hotel has its own elephant polo team and the general manager is an avid player.
Hats off to the Sukosol Clapp family, Mr Bill Bensley and the Siam team for so, so much – but in particular we commend their respect and understanding of Thai culture, excellent design and slick service. Such admirable vision ensures truly unique experiences await you.
3/2 Thanon Khao, Vachirapayabal, Dusit, Bangkok, Thailand, Thailand 10300
3.6 mi / 5.8 km from city centre
- Aerobics instruction
- Exercise gym
- Internet services
- On-Site parking
- Complimentary in-room coffee or tea
- Room service
- Onsite laundry
Occupying an old Jim Thompson teak building, Deco Bar & Bistro is the Siam's main all-day diner, serving delicious breakfasts downstairs and tasty international dishes upstairs, such as lobster salad and goats' cheese souffle (alongside a well-stocked wine cellar). Decor evokes the jazz age, with vintage French cocktail posters, radios and gramophones. For local delicacies, head to riverfront Chon Thai Restaurant; if you like the authentic flavours, learn to recreate them yourself in the cooking school below.
Book a spot by the window at intimate Chon Thai for sunset river views or bag a private dining room if you're travelling with a troupe. Foodies will love the chef's table for two at the cooking school or opt for private dining in-room or on the pier.
Dinner is served until 11pm, when the bar also calls it a night.
Sandwiches, pasta, burgers and Thai cuisine are just some of the hunger-ousting options on the room service menu, available from 6am to 11pm.
Jazz tunes set the mood at Deco Bar, an art deco-influenced watering-hole that whips up a mean Siam Mojito. Musical mementos abound, a reminder of celebrity owners the Sukisols, Thailand's 'musical hoteliers'. For freshly brewed coffee, tea, cakes and snacks, kick back in soon-to-open Café Cha, deckside by the main entrance courtyard.