March 2, 2016 / 1 Comment
Nestled on the Chao Praya riverside away from the hustle and bustle of the Bangkok central shopping and business district, The Siam is the perfect way to enjoy Bangkok in five star style. Actually, it’s more like six.
The Siam is a property that gently unfolds as you discover it’s beauty – it’s nooks and crannies, stunning garden spaces and amazing artifacts. It’s as serene as it’s riverside setting and a world away from the drab concrete and jumbles of power lines outside it’s walls. It’s not brash, gaudy, or ostentatious, and in many ways doesn’t feel like a hotel at all. Perhaps that’s one of it’s best features. It feels like you are the only guest in a sprawling luxurious mansion – one owned by someone with fine taste in interiors and antiquities that is.
Space is something that is abundant at The Siam (amazing that I can say that in crowded Bangkok), and the use of large features really gives a feeling of opulence and wonder. Huge (really, huge – I’m talking three stories high) banana palm plants fill the centre atrium of the main building, so large and wonderous it feels like a mad botanist’s experiment. Never in my life have I seen leaves this enormous, and you find yourself staring in wonder every time you stroll past. These are not the only plants at The Siam – the entire complex is filled with greenery in such a way you feel you are exploring an unearthed temple, yet one that has a team of expert gardners manicuring it daily. A sophisticated black and white palette compliments the beautiful natural surfaces – stone, marble and wood are key materials here.
The calming palette and airy design brings a wonderful serenity to the property, with only the sound of running water and bird song to break the silence as you explore. And explore you should. The Siam boasts a ridiculously huge collection of antiques curios, displayed everywhere you look. I hate to think how long it took to acquire this impressive collection and at what cost! Luckily I suppose the calibre of guest here can be trusted not to damage the beautiful objects, so many are out in the open for you to peruse. There’s also a snooker table and screening room to pass the time, and cooking classes can be arranged with or without a market visit.
We stayed in a Siam suite, and from the moment you open the door this is a room that truly captivates. Beautiful french tunes float through the room as you enter, even broadcast into the bathroom, adding to the elegant and relaxing atmosphere. Again, size and scale come into play here, and this room is truly huge. It’s divided into three areas – upon entry you have a sitting room with television, mini bar and lounge, then into the main bedroom area boasting a huge king size bed, another sitting area and a large desk backing on the the bed. This main room features a dramatic vaulted ceiling with fan, again reinforcing the sense of abundant space this hotel offers. The television in the bedroom is also grandiose, with a great selection of channels and free on demand movies if you want to spend some time just chilling. Wander behind the desk and you step down into a palatial bathroom with two separate sinks and benches, one at each far end of the room. In centre stage is a large white bathtub if the regular and rain shower options are not your thing. Everything you need is provided – robes, self branded amenities, hair dryer – and easy to find.
The room is fitted out in a classic yet modern style – the aforementioned black and white takes centre stage, with accents of grey, dark wood and mirrored feature walls. It feels like no expense has been spared fitting these rooms out to a high level.
Rooms at The Siam come with many extras – breakfast of course, the hotel’s private boat for river transfers, and your own personal butler. I’ll start with the breakfast. Served until 11am daily by the riverside, the setting itself is as beautiful as the food. There is a small buffet featuring pastries, fruit, the freshest juices and porridge but the bulk of the breakfast menu is provided a la carte. A huge range of delicious choices is on offer – you’ll find it hard to choose trust me! Eggs any which way, waffles, french toast, the list goes on and on. We chose to stick mainly to the Thai menu however (when in Rome!) and feasted on stunning pad thai style noodles and succulent pork dishes. These were absolutely amazing, I definitely recommend you venture to this side of the menu, but all dishes were top notch. Special requests are not a problem either.
Most mornings we like to do the gym and swim holiday routine pre-breakfast, and The Siam’s facilities for doing so are first class. Enter the gym reception and you’ll see wall to wall vintage fitness art and paraphenalia, in keeping with the hotel’s museum feel. The gym boasts extensive cardio and weights equipment including a power rack, swiss balls and even it’s own Muay Thai ring. Personal training is available too, and you can even get classes in that here if that’s your thing. If you need a reference, they train royalty here – we often saw the royal puppy waiting for it’s master to finish her session.
The Siam’s laidback-chic pool area is the perfect post gym pit stop where you can gaze out to the boats cruising the river as you cool down. If you’re there in the morning, the staff even pop out to ask if you’d like coffee and juice brought to you before you head to breakfast just across the lawn. Post breakfast, enjoy some of their delicious cocktails – my pick was the Beyond. Featuring modern loungers facing the river just below pool level, it’s a great spot to enjoy some relaxation. Watch out for the potent sun however!
If you’re feeling more adventurous, they have a tattoo parlour in the spa (more on the wonderful spa in another post) that offers traditional hand tapped tattoos – apparently NBA player Derek Rose is one of the past recipients of one of their Thai inspired designs. Had I known in advance I might have gone under the hammer myself – maybe next time! You might want to leave it to the last day of your trip so you can still enjoy the pool before you need to heal your new piece of art.
The Siam’s location is admittedly a little out of the way, and probably the only drawback to this property. But it shouldn’t be enough of a reason to deter you from staying here, especially when the hotel has it’s own pier and private boat. The boat will take you from The Siam to the pier of your choice at 1.5 hour intervals, including the Sathorn Central Pier (near Saphan Taksin BTS station) that provides easy and quick transport to other Bangkok hotspots (Skybar is only two stops from this station, Siam Paragon is five). The 20-30 minute river journey is rather lovely, much better than a taxi, and often it we were the only guests travelling on it – not bad to have your own private river charter and arrive to your destination in style! Beside the pier is a lovely spot for sundowners also. Speaking of taxis, be prepared for headaches when trying to get one back to The Siam – many will flat out refuse to drive that far or try to charge an exorbitant fee. Insist on a metered fare only – this should cost around 100 baht instead of the 4-600 baht they will try to charge you. Enlist the help of the hotel or restaurant security to try and convince a driver to take the fare or you’ll probably get swindled.
And last but not least, probably the feature of The Siam that left the biggest impression on us – the personal butlers. We hadn’t given this aspect too much thought and were amazed as our butler, Jill, just quietly took care of reservations, creating maps for us, translating addresses and allergies, and generally being an amazing holiday personal assistant. Somehow he always knew where to find us and what we would need that day. His local knowledge was unmatched and I think we’ll miss his friendly face when we depart! He’d ensure we made it to the boat transfers we had booked on time, and wave us off from the pier. He tracked down a pharmacy to replace my missing asthma inhaler. He juggled dinner and lunch bookings at multiple restaurants and ensured we always had our usual requests at breakfast. Jill was a superstar, and I’m sure the same can be said of the other butlers at The Siam.
At breakfast on our last day having our last serve of delicious Thai noodles, we were reflecting on what a great trip we have had and how sad we were to leave – not to mention how much The Siam (and Jill) were instrumental in making it so special. I think I might even return one day.