It might seem improbable that for the past 14 years or so, a small 39-room boutique hotel has been lording it over Bangkok’s list of the best hotels. The Thai capital is not like other cities – competition in its hospitality industry is terribly cutthroat with presence from virtually all the luxury hotel chains. Yet, the respected The Siam Hotel in Bangkok’s quieter and older Dusit district seems to have captured the imagination of travelers in a way that none of the chain hotels could.
Stepping into the entrance of The Siam, it becomes apparent immediately that one is in for a treat. A soothing shade of white dominates the main building while public spaces are adorned with a treasure trove of antiques from the owner’s personal collection. The Siam is owned by the Sukosol family, one of Thailand’s most prominent. The owner’s love for antiques also extends out to the facilities such as in the unique music room as well as the individual guestrooms, each having a theme of its own.
Checking-in to The Siam is akin to checking-in to a resort. The lobby is an open and airy affair. I was greeted with a bottle of fresh passionfruit juice and some towels for my welcome drink. Having arrived from a late night flight, the lobby was lightly staffed when I arrived but the receptionist still made the effort to escort me to my room.
Even though the hotel is located in a relatively small plot of land in the middle of the city, The Siam feels very much like a lush retreat. The main building where all the suites are housed has this beautiful atrium filled with banana palm trees while ferns permeate the courtyards. Again, the soothing white shade of the corridors leading to my suite add to a calming feel.
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Room – Mae Nam Suite
As we were walking down the hallway, the receptionist told me that I was upgraded to the Mae Nam Suite. The Siam is an all suite/villa hotel and I had originally booked The Siam Suite which is the entry-level room in the property. The Mae Nam Suite is one level above and is about 10 square meters larger than the base-level suite.
The suites at The Siam marry the long and rich culture of Thailand with striking art deco elements that the hotel designer, Bill Bensley is known for. I am personally a fan of his work, previously having stayed in Shinta Mani Angkor. The layout here reminded me of that experience with the bed as the room’s centerpiece and a workdesk just behind the headboard spanning its whole length. The suite can be thought of generally as having three sections – the living area at the far end of the room, the resting quarters at the center and the bathroom at the other side. There are no doors in the strict sense of the word. Each of these sections have curtains as dividers.
With the Mae Nam Suite, natural light pierces in through widows across both sides of the room, one side beside the bed and the other by the living area. The color scheme inside the suite is not too dissimilar from the rest of the hotel – it is dominated in shades of black and white with parts in gray and dark brown coming from the woodwork.
I was greeted by an extravagant fruit basket consisting of an array of tropical delights – longan, dragonfruit and even my favorite fruit, mangosteen, which I devoured right away. I also received a bottle of the hotel’s own banana chips.
The minibar here is somewhat excessive, given that I am in Bangkok and it’s so easy to buy groceries around town. Nevertheless, my minibar carried a relatively good assortment of alcohol as well as beverages inside the fridge. There was also a coffee machine, with the coffee coming from Vittoria of Australia.
By the working desk, there was an open “suitcase” that creatively serves as the hotel’s compendium. I found the hotel’s own guide, which is published as a booklet and updated frequently, invaluable in terms of recommendations on things to see, eat and do around the area.
The bathroom is a mix of colonial styles with Bill Bensley’s unmistakable black and white tiles. As with any self-respecting luxury hotel, there are three sections to the bathroom. First is the main open area with the bathtub in the middle, second is a small enclosure for the toilet and the third is the shower. The vanity space, on the other hand, is actually located outside what would be regarded as the bathroom, and is parallel to the work desk. There’s a his and hers sink and a stool. Notably, toiletries here are from the hotel’s own brand and are encased in the property’s own containers (not the type guests can take home). I suppose it is more practical and more environmentally-friendly that way.
The following morning, I met my personal butler, Gub. He showed me around the property and we visited some of the nice facilities in the hotel, including the music room just a few steps from my suite. Despite the butler designation, I found Gub really effective as a concierge. He was so proactive in providing me information. For instance, I mentioned in passing that I wanted to go to Chatuchak Market and he thoughtfully printed out a map of the place for me just as I was about to leave.
Although The Siam is a boutique hotel by virtue of its room count, its facilities suggest otherwise. There were a number of places here that I enjoyed spending my time in and on top of that list was the music room. One of the Sukosols’ family friends donated his massive collection of vinyl and these are now stored in this snazzy looking room with a glasshouse ceiling. I appreciated the acoustics while digging through tons of old records – some particularly rare – and testing them out.
Those on a longer stay would also appreciate the library filled with old books. It’s a nice place to get some work done with its natural light. Beyond it is the screening room where guests get to watch selected films on a bigger screen.
At the other side of the building is the hotel gym, which is definitely out of proportion to what is required for a 39-room hotel. Other than having the complete set of exercise equipment, the gym here also has a boxing ring. Even far larger luxury hotels in Bangkok don’t have this!
A well-manicured garden filled with hanging plants and water lilies line the walkway leading to the river. As with many riverfront properties, The Siam has its own ferry pier as well as its own boat to transport guests to any point along the Chao Phraya river – so long as these points are within the city limits of Bangkok. These ferry transfers follow a schedule.
Tip: When roaming around the outdoor areas of The Siam, especially during the rainy season, it would be wise to use insect repellant. This is mainly due to the hotel’s location just by the river. I would imagine the other luxury hotels lining the Chao Phraya to have a similar problem. Thankfully, the hotel provides sprays for guests to use.
I used it to get myself to Icon Siam which is at the other side of the river. If I go by taxi, I imagine the trip might take nearly an hour due to Bangkok’s notorious traffic jams. By boat, it only took me 25 minutes. Other points of interest such as the Grand Palace and Wat Arun are just 15 minutes by boat from The Siam.
There is also one lap pool here with direct views of the river. Its flooring comes in Bill Bensley’s trademark stripes!
I imagine it would not be very practical to set up a humongous buffet for a boutique hotel and in The Siam, breakfast is instead a mix of made-to-order plus a spread consisting of fruits and pastries. While usual suspects such as eggs benedict, waffles and French toast are available, I would recommend opting for the local dishes as well. Guests are free to order as much as they want and each dish is in relatively small portions anyway so this is definitely encouraged.
During my stay, I tried the likes of the turmeric chicken with rice, satay as well as rice noodles. These were all well executed, and along with drinks such as Thai milk tea and fresh juices, prepared me for the day ahead. You can also check out The Siam’s Breakfast Menu.
I’ve visited Bangkok countless times and have stayed in a different hotel each time. Of all hotels I’ve tried in Bangkok, I would have to say that my experience at The Siam was the most distinctive. For folks who appreciate design, the playful interiors of The Siam interspersed with its well integrated antique pieces make it unique. The hotel has lined up plenty of ways for guests to explore Bangkok, from its handy guide to the availability of an exclusive boat to zip through the river. It is also conveniently located if you are interested to explore Bangkok and its historical monuments which are mostly in the area. Ironically however, The Siam’s resort-like ambiance and personalized service may convince most to do just the opposite and stay in the whole time.
The Siam Hotel
3 2 Khao Rd
Khwaeng Wachira Phayaban
Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10300
Booking: Compare best prices HERE