When you step into the Siam you are immediately transported from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok into a one-of-a-kind urban oasis. Occupying three acres of land right on the banks of the Chao Phraya River in the historic district of Dusit, it’s only a stone’s throw away from some of the city’s most-visited attractions, but just far enough to be isolated from the cacophony of the humming metropolis. Upon entering you’re welcomed by a sun-drenched courtyard encircled with leafy ferns and a lotus-shaped fountain in the centre, followed by an atrium outfitted with a reflection pool where towering vegetation shoots up to the glass-and-steel roof. Designed by Bill Bensley with Art Deco flair, it also a touch of old-world charm and quirkiness to the hotel thanks to owner Krissada Sukosol Clapp—who first gained recognition in Thailand as a singer and actor—and his private collection of art and antiques sprinkled throughout the entire property.
The 28 suites in the main building are spectacular in their own right, but head out back towards the river and you’ll find 11 private pool villas hidden behind wooden doors, with one in particular that’s known as the property’s most special. On the hotel grounds there is a quartet of traditional Thai teak homes that are more than a century old, previously owned by Connie Mangskau, a prominent Thai socialite who held many parties in their original Bangkok location. In order to transport the villas to the Siam, the hotel dismantled them and sailed them down the Chao Phraya River before reassembling them. Three have been used for restaurants at the hotel; the fourth is Connie’s Cottage, a bi-level villa that today features a private pool and spacious living room on the first floor while the master bedroom, outfitted with a four-poster bed and balcony, is found on the second story. Steeped in history and furnished accordingly, it’s the kind of space that’s difficult to leave—something Jacqueline Kennedy and actor William Holden probably felt as well, when they visited Mangskau for one of her legendary parties back in the day. Thanks to the Siam’s meticulous work, the party continues. Here, a tour of the historic space reborn: