Designed by architectural design guru Bill Bensley, The Siam is a singular display of pure spectacle done in the most serene good taste.
You approach from the river on its own beautiful boat and are confronted with a muted, low-rise Xanadu, all done in black & white, with palms, plants, avenues of flowering frangipani and hedges of scented jasmine.
Ancient Thai houses have been reassembled on the river’s edge as intimate restaurants. Behind them, the enormous property opens up via wide pathways and stairs. You walk past luxury villas with their own private courtyards and bathing pools, through to the main inner covered court. Here, three tiers of beautifully appointed rooms rise up around a huge reflecting pool with enormous banana trees that seem to grow out of it. There is a massive Moroccan-style sunken courtyard surrounded by a spa and treatment rooms of princely proportions. Everywhere there are massive doors leading off to different public spaces.
Scale, in fact, is the theme here, as it is in most Bensley-designed hotels. Doors and windows everywhere are insanely tall and slender, ceilings regally high, baths enormous, planting pots giant. You feel like a child strolling through a very tasteful wonderland. The public area takes up far more space than the residential. There are only 39 rooms (some enormous) in this entire property. So the feeling is of being in an airy island resort, not a hotel in the middle of a cramped tropical city.
If this were not impressive enough, all the various buildings are studded with antique details that have been incorporated into the design. Ancient doors, pillars, window-frames, screens, door-handles, and so on are all functional parts of the design, as are one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture, sculptures and extremely rare free-standing pieces just there to blow your mind.
These are all from the life-long collection of co-designer Kris Sukosol a Thai pop star, movie actor and scion of the family that financed this whole visionary project.