An understated entry. A few steps lead up to the first courtyard—it could be the entrance to a patrician’s home in ancient Rome moved to Asia
Dusit is the wealthiest of Bangkok’s 50 districts. There is a stately feel to its buildings, museums and parks. In 1903 and 1904, during the reign of King Chulalongkorn, Dusit Palace was built in a neoclassic style and it is famous for the Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall, at the time a throne room and banquet hall and today a venue for art and local craft exhibitions. On display in the nearby National Library is the ancient art of star charts and maps and the surrounding streets are filled with markets, including Thewet Market with plants and farm produce and street food kiosks. The fortuitous location of the Dusit district close to the port makes it the country’s commercial hub. It is on the Chao Phraya River, which for centuries has been a thoroughfare for trade and vital to the inhabitants’ lives.
The Siam and its grounds stretch for three hectares along the riverbank. Private villas, suites and cottages. Designed by the architect Bill Bensley, the project was commissioned by the Thai actor and artist Krissada Sukosol Clapp, owner, founder and art director of The Siam. The Sukosol family has been in the hotellerie world for more than thirty years thanks to Mrs. Kamala Sukosol’s efforts and project. Together with her son she helped to create an environment suitable for displaying and enhancing their collections of ancient articles in this resort in Bangkok. This lady favors Chinese antiques and the sculptures displayed are nearly all privately owned, while her son Krissada cultivates an interest in any antique object from the history of southeast Asia: period photos, ancient guides to Thailand, books and maps.
The inspirational model chosen for this project shines through in its layout, copying the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and influenced by its colors and materials. A fusion of soft shades like black, white, cream and grey team with the texture of the materials like wood, fabric, leather and stone that fill the rooms with craftsmanship furnishings. The gardens reach out like tentacles beyond their boundaries to accompany guests throughout hotel—a building inserted into the city that feels like a resort—especially when they cross the patios along the corridor that leads to the quayside on the river.
An understated, almost neglected entry: a few steps lead up to the first courtyard—it could be the entrance to a patrician’s home in ancient Rome moved to Asia. A fountain in the center, white walls and a shop selling artisan articles that might even be relics, the same style as the art collection. A doorway on a hanging bridge takes guests into the main part of the building: in the center a vast lamp, at least two hundred meters square, hangs from an iron support. Colonial balconies lead to the rooms, all overlooking the center where an enormous pool is surrounded by tropical plants that reach skywards. Beyond this is the sitting-room for the spa, on a lower level, another pool for goldfish and a lounge that could be below decks on a wooden boat or in a Moroccan riad, again in black and white. The music room opens onto a terrace, with its piano, LP records, and ancient instruments for an English cigar.
Water features are everywhere, continuing to the river, and alternating with geometrics in white stone and grass, a chessboard that stretches down the corridor of frangipani trees and their resident squirrels. Breakfast is served in the garden, under a wooden veranda overlooking the river. The final open-air living-room is on the quayside and it continues with a pool designed to look like a modern fountain, in mosaics and black stripes. The rooms are in the main part of the hotel, on the third floor, the river far away due to the sheer size of the building. Theatrical curtains separate the seating in the bow window from the bed and from the bathroom, which itself is divided into three rooms. Mirrors and wood paneling lend everything an authentic feel, without any contemporary skewing. The decor preserves the originality of Southeast Asian architecture and the aim of The Siam’s founder.
Text Ornella Fusco
Khet Dusit, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon