The Siam Hotel Bangkok, review: Buying time in Bangkok

Read our writer's views on this property below

A Thai hotel takes the humble gift shop to new heights, writes Julie Miller.

I often wonder about the viability of hotel gift shops. Who, after all, buys souvenirs from an over-priced, under-stocked store when the same thing is available for half the price at a shopping mall or market nearby? Convenience is one thing but I'd have to be pretty strapped for time to make it my one-stop shop.

I surprise myself, however, when I make several visits to the gift store at The Siam, one of Bangkok's newest and most opulent boutique hotels, just to gawk. Rather than selling standard silk scarves, jewellery and merchandising, Curio, as the lobby shop is appropriately called, is a treasure trove of antiques and rare South-East Asian handicrafts, sourced from the personal collection of hotel owner,

Thai rock star and actor Krissada Sukosol Clapp.

I gaze longingly at a 100-year-old wooden zodiac chain from Thailand's north and ponder over a collection of old matchbox cards featuring half-naked Thai beauties from the 1920s. Everything in Curio is exquisite, quirky, covetable and, considering the quality, not overly expensive.

Having the opportunity to buy a small token from Kriss's personal antique collection also serves a practical purpose – tempering my urge to pocket other treasures scattered throughout the hotel. The Siam has nurtured my inner kleptomaniac – I seriously want to possess everything I see, from old etchings on the wall of my suite to the art deco chairs in the library.

Class and effortless taste abound at The Siam. Which is not surprising, considering styling is courtesy of the inimitable Bill Bensley, best known for his eclectic landscape and interior design of Four Seasons properties in Thailand. The concept is art deco from Thailand's King Rama V era (1853-1910), blending the simplicity, pure lines and muted shades of the European art movement with Thai decadence.

The result is an intimacy rarely experienced in a five-star hotel. The passion and dedication poured into the bricks and mortar of The Siam is palpable; no detail has been overlooked and no expense spared to make guests feel special. It's a little like staying at the private home of a friend – a very wealthy friend, mind, and one with exceptional taste.

The Siam is up there in terms of price with Bangkok's most exclusive hotels. Its all-suite rooms, however, are more generous than average (60 square metres) with king-sized beds, plush furnishings and the services of a butler provided even in its starter category.

An unmissable experience is a private Muay Thai boxing lesson in Bangkok's first professionally equipped luxury boxing gym. Using the services of world-champion trainers, classes range from an introductory session to advanced programs.

Follow with a Muay Thai recovery massage in the decadent Opium Spa and it's the perfect marriage of sport and relaxation.

Located on the riverfront in the historic Palace district, The Siam may not suit visitors who are interested in nightlife, shopping or being in the thick of the action but for tranquility, respite and cultural nourishment, this elegant sanctuary is likely to become a Bangkok classic.

The writer was a guest of The Siam Hotel Bangkok.

TRIP NOTES

WHERE

On the Chao Phraya River at Khao Road, Dusit, Bangkok. Phone

+66 0 2206 6999.

HOW MUCH

Rack rate starts from 16,300 Thai Baht ($569), though promotion rates start from THB10,500 (October 1-31) or THB13,500 (November 1-December 15) including complimentary breakfast, free Wi-Fi, butler service and private boat shuttle between the hotel and Sathorn pier.

TOP MARKS

Chon Thai, the hotel's signature Thai restaurant, occupies a cluster of three original teak houses sourced by silk tycoon Jim Thompson for the socialite and antique dealer Connie Mangksau.

BLACK MARK

Large digital clocks out of place and cast unnecessary glow.

MORE INFORMATION

thesiamhotel.com.