I’m not usually one to work out much more than my tastebuds when I’m travelling, but as I walk through original, Art Deco gymnasium doors, past vintage sports posters and leather punching bags to the full-sized Muay Thai Boxing ring, I realise we have a serious contender. For my new favourite hotel, that is. The Siam Hotel Bangkok is a thing of black and white boutique beauty that is punching so far above its weight, even the gymnasium has my jaw hitting the floor (for all the right reasons).
Now I’ll be honest and admit that my date with The Siam’s extraordinary gym was brief, and nothing even remotely resembling exercise was undertaken by me as I was just passing through on the way to the Spa (more on that later), but its impact is testament to just how perfectly conceived The Siam Hotel Bangkok is.
Set on the banks of the banks of the Chao Phraya River, away from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, in the cultural heart of the Palace district, this stylish urban sanctuary is all jazz age ambiance topped with a big old sprinkle of rock and roll swagger. No surprise, given the family owned hotel’s owner is Thai rock star and award-winning actor Kriss Sukusol Clapp, whose personally curated collection of antiques and vintage Thai curios not only inspired the hotel, but star in it.
Built around a soaring glass and steel atrium, complete with reflection pool and towering vegetation that provide an instant sanctuary from Bangkok’s hustle, every inch of the hotel is inspired perfection.
And while its styling certainly has a foot on the past, it is resolutely modern. A long, gleaming white marble hallway delivers me to my Mae Nam Suite. At first, I think there must be some kind of mistake, as the be-mirrored hallway alone makes my own apartment back home look like a cat box.
My breathing almost stops when I see the rest of the extraordinary suite, in all its airy, lofty-ceilinged glory. While no two rooms are exactly alike, the aesthetic of my suite is so perfectly, painstakingly me, it’s like someone picked the plans from my head and recreated it just to impress me.
It worked! Because everything from the calming monochromatic colour scheme (highlighted with the occasional tinge of aubergine) and temple-like bathroom with its stand-alone tub to the fringed lamps dangling as decorously as an earring at the Oscars from the soaring-ceiling, is pitch perfect.
But it is the addition of perfectly curated antiques, curios and vintage music memorabilia that is scattered throughout that elevates it to another level.
This is my actual dream home, a sanctuary that whispers restraint and shouts extravagance all at once, and I am so in love with every incredible millimetre of it that I am going to have to be forcibly removed when it comes time to check out. The butler? Well, I’ll keep him too, thanks.
But there’s more to The Siam Hotel Bangkok than just its very plush suites.
The wonderful Chef Damri Muksombat, who has helmed some of Thailand’s top restaurants, along with his team, produce cuisine that is nothing short of sublime. There are several venues, including the Deco bar & Bistro, Café Cha and divine Chon Thai Restaurant, which focuses on exceptional Thai cuisine with a modern twist (You can read more about the sumptuous Chef’s Degustation Experience here).
The degustation is served in an antique Thai teak wood house, or on the pier, weather permitting, which is also the best location for a pre-dinner cocktail.
Every corner of The Siam hides a story, its jaw dropping public areas packed with artefacts from millenia-old Thai pottery and wooden Buddha statues dating back to the 16th century to quirkier relics like old movie ticket stubs and vintage cameras.
There’s a startlingly beautiful library with a very hip movie room that can be reserved for private use, complete with vintage Kleig lights. You can choose movies that range from kids flicks and classics to blockbusters, and order in a bowl of popcorn via the butler.
You can pot a few balls on the planet-sized antique billiards table, if that’s your thing. Though given that last time I attempted that particular sport I tore the felt, the only shots I took on this occasion were with a camera.
There’s also the wonderfully whimsical vinyl room where you can tinkle the ivories, check out the collection of musical memorabilia or play one of the many original vinyl records.
And at the hotel’s boutique, instead of souvenir tea towels, stunning handcrafted curio and antiques are up for grabs.
I feel like I could trip over Alice and the mad hatter in the quirkily cultivated, lotus pond filled gardens that lead to a gorgeous Art Deco swimming pool, which has been voted one of the world’s most beautiful, for obvious reasons.
The pool sits right alongside the river, offering guests the perfect place to cool off while they soak up the water views and the G&Ts on offer at the Bathers Bar. Or is that just me?
Then there’s the sigh-inducingOpium Spa. The mere thought of which has me melting in to a happy puddle.
The tranquil spa is both opulent and intimate and therapists use ethically-sourced products for their traditional Thai, Ayurvedic and bespoke therapies. I am unable to resist its lure. When I leave and hour later I’m so blissfully relaxed I’m quite certain my bones have melted.
Then there are the signature experiences. A biff-packed Muay Thai boxing lesson under the tutelage of world-champion trainers? Thai cooking lessons at The Siam Cooking school? Wellness training with the resident Ayurvedic doctor? A Reiki Class? Yoga? Mediation? Sign me up for them all.
The most extraordinary experience, though, is one that you won’t find in another hotel. Sak Yant, the tattooing of sacred designs, is respectfully and reverentially offered at The Siam’s in-house Yak Sant Tattoo Studio.
Ajarn Boo, a former monk and master of Sak Yant, inks authentic yants – believed to impart mystical powers, protection and luck – by hand using a traditional khem sak (a tattoo stylus resembling an arrow) in a deeply spiritual ceremony.
And yes, you can sign me up for that too.
And as for the kids, they’re most welcome. Well not to get tattoos but, given the hotel is run by a family, pretty much everywhere else. Indeed, they can expect the VIP treatment as they enjoy days spent in the children’s pool, watching movies in the theatre, indulging in treatments from a special kids’ and teens spa menu, or undertaking private Muay Thai kickboxing lessons and cooking classes.
Should one actually want to leave, there’s a luxury cruise boat to shuttle guests up and down the river in air-conditioned style that looks like the love child of an early era James Bond speedboat and a traditional Thai river boat.
While my sonnet to this extraordinary hotel should be enough to sell even the most hardened and jaded hotel visitor, there’s more.
The thing that elevates The Siam Hotel Bangkok to another level is the passion of the incredible staff who run it, and the people behind it. The love that has gone into the hotel is tangible and I dare anyone not to fall just as hard for it as I have.
Now, if you’ll pardon me, my stay is up and I’m off to chain myself to the furniture before they come to evict me.
The Siam is a member of the Legend Collection from Preferred Hotels & Resorts and travellers can access exclusive member rates and earn reward points at the hotel (and others in the group) through membership of their free I Prefer Hotel Rewards programme.
The Siam Hotel Bangkok
3/2 Thanon Khao,
Vachirapayabal, Dusit, Bangkok
Tel: +66 2 206 6999
Disclosure: While I was privileged to stay as a guest of The Siam, all antique coveting, gym avoiding, gin drinking and opinions are my own.