SWINGIN’ AT THE SIAM

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Published on November 07, 2016 with No Comments

Where to go for a vacation, staycation and more in Bangkok.

Words ANIS RAMLI
Images THE SIAM

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In Dusit, the area known as old Bangkok, there are no skyscrapers or stylish malls. Tourists come here to experience the Bangkok that once was and admire the beautiful Sino-Portuguese architecture that defines the area. Locals are perfectly fine with the lack of development. The neighbourhood remains close-knit, and everyone’s linked through food. Because ask any Bangkokian, and they’ll say Dusit is where dishes made from decades-old family recipes still thrive and street food remains for a song.

So how then, can a rock star hotelier – in this case, Krissada Sukosol Clapp – reconcile the Old Bangkok while bringing his vision of luxury to the area? That is where The Siam triumphs.

The hotel is a play of sublime spaces with Art Deco-inspired accents and a nod throughout to nostalgic Siam, using Clapp’s love for antiques as the narrative glue. Each individual ethos is then synthesised under the brilliant designer eye of Bill Bensley.

It starts with an intimate cobbled courtyard with free-falling ferns that leads to the main residence with 28 bespoke suites. Along the way, there is the greenhouse-styled atrium filled with tall palm trees that lends the area a fresh tropical feel. Everywhere you look, nooks and corners are filled with wanton displays of curios – all personal effects from Clapp’s own private collection.

The rooms are large by Bangkok standards, and are the capital’s most spacious. The everyday suite has been reimagined to indulge the tastes of owner and designer. There are variations of themes on the local and social landscape; more antiques, throw cushions, oversized armchairs – all with the unmistakable old-school swagger and glitz that define the Art Deco genre. What makes the suites work is that while the outside may feel (to some) like a cavernous antique showroom, the suites offer a safe haven to unwind and are restful cocoons.

For a more intimate stay, The Siam also has 11 villas with its own dedicated plunge pool, one of which is a repurposed, century-old Thai teak wooden house, boat-transferred from the ancient capital of Ayutthata, that once belonged to the late silk tycoon, Jim Thompson. With a private entrance, these villas – some with rooftop terraces, private gardens and outdoor balconies – are the ultimate retreat away from the city and are favoured by the locals for a staycation. Lofty ceilings, luxuriously deep bath tubs and super-sized king beds make a stay here beyond indulgent.

The Siam is also not short on resort-style amenities. At the aptly-named Opium Spa, guests are drawn into the dark and seductive interiors of the spa, where candles and perfumed diffusers are in profusion. Treatments celebrate the naturally-sourced Sodashi products that are used extensively throughout the intoxicating body massages and refreshing facials.

Heightening The Siam experience further is the menu at Chon, the hotel’s restaurant housed in yet another repurposed Thompson teak building. Authentic local flavours get snazzy when paired with Thailand’s finest produce, such as the pomelo salad with Maine lobster, seared Hokkaido scallops done Thai style and a traditional fish green curry. If you wish to recreate the flavours back home, sign up for a private cooking class that has its open kitchen adjacent to the restaurant.

The active holidaymaker will find many things to do elsewhere on the grounds. Pack your stylish cotton gear for Tai Chi on the terrace or go for a bout of Muay Thai with a trained trainer in the first professionally equipped, state-of-the-art Muay Thai gym in Bangkok.

Royal Brunei Airlines flies Bangkok 8x weekly.

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