Bangkok’s top 4 small luxury hotels with personality

The concept of what constitutes a luxury hotel is a chameleon one, and this is particularly true in Thailand’s frenetic capital, Bangkok. To some, luxury implies large hotels with high room counts, offering spacious and carefully decorated accommodation and a broad range of gourmet restaurants and facilities. In these behemoths, service standards are often formatted to the dictates of external auditors and third party inspectors, ensuring international quality benchmarks but often stifling the quirky. To others though, luxury evokes exclusivity and rarity, with an emphasis on a sense of place and a unique or eclectic product.

Bangkok’s luxury hotels have figured amongst award-winners in numerous international polls and surveys conducted by travel magazines, yet the capital also offers much smaller properties, pregnant with individuality. Here, we present Bangkok’s top 4 small hotels with personality. These are often owner-operated, and have been born out of a love for a building steeped in history, or the desire to propose accommodation exuding character and originality.

Each of these properties is competitively priced and may be booked directly online. If you are keen to experience a more genuine Bangkok, where personality is a trademark and individual style is unabashed – and if you are prepared to accept the very occasional glitch as the price you may pay for the truly unique – then enjoy a memorable stay at one of these chosen retreats!

#4 – Ariyasom Villa

This property is focused around the former residence of the current owners’ grandparents, who built it during the Second World War. This boutique property was designed to exude that bygone era, whilst also offering modern amenities and facilities. Here you will find old teak floorboards, antique furniture and rich Thai silk curtains, as well as complimentary Wi-Fi access.

The property offers twenty five rooms and suites, a swimming pool, spa and library. Its Na Aroon restaurant is as eclectic as the property itself, eschewing the “appeal to all’ philosophy and focusing on tasty, healthy and organic dishes from both Thailand and abroad, with the majority of the dishes being vegetarian (whilst carnivores are not catered to here, you will find some seafood dishes.) The owners place a particular emphasis on sourcing high quality ingredients such as virgin oils, fresh organic vegetables and seasonal fruits. Some of their specialties include crunchy noodles, pomelo salad and northern dips, as well as homemade mushroom soup and pasta dishes.

The property’s verdant tropical gardens belie its location in central Bangkok on Sukhumvit Road’s Soi 1. The Executive Suite is the one to plump for!

#3 The Eugenia

The Eugenia evokes the charm and sophistication of a nineteenth century colonial mansion, in the heart of modern Bangkok on Sukhumvit Road’s Soi 31. With only twelve all-suite rooms, this boutique hotel features hardwood floors and shutters, period furniture, and even a selection of vintage cars that may be hired for an unusual exploration of the capital.

The ground floor of the property houses the lobby, reception, cafe, library and lounge, whilst the second and third floors house the suites. Guests should be aware that the property does not have a lift.

The suites are a lesson in understated elegance and emanate style from a bygone era, with four poster beds, hand-beaten bathtubs, period furniture and fittings, and high quality in-room spa amenities. The bed linens are specially imported from Belgium, and the furniture found in the property forms part of the owner’s collection, painstakingly amassed during travels through British & French Colonial Burma, India and Indochina. Opt for the sumptuous 42 square metre Eugenia Suite with its lofty ceilings, private foyer and luxurious bathroom that features a copper bathtub.

The courtyard swimming pool is not large, but reflects the style of the property and in particular its low room inventory, and is lined with swaying palm trees.

#2 – Chakrabongse Villas

With only six suites, this exclusive property offers a retreat from the commotion and hubbub of Bangkok. It was originally constructed in 1908 by the Thai Prince Chakrabongse, who would use the house as his Bangkok base when attending royal ceremonies.

The riverside setting of the property in “old Bangkok” is hard to beat – and if you arrive after dark you will enjoy an enviable view across to the illuminated Temple of Dawn (Wat Aroon.) The property is within easy reach of major attractions such as the Grand Palace and the Marble Temple, and long-tail boat trips can be arranged to whisk you through the network of small canals, where life carries on at a slower pace.

Six individual suites with modern facilities are set in a lush and fastidiously kept tropical garden, where birds sing and squirrels play. The property features a spacious swimming pool, and a restaurant pavilion serves fresh breakfasts and dinners, with views of the ever-changing parade of watercraft that ply their way, from swallow-tail boats to swollen teak rice barges.

Our choice here is the River View Suite – an enormous, 129 square metre apartment finished in Thai motif teaks, offset by colorful Thai silks, and boasting splendid views over the river and the revered Wat Aroon. It offers a sitting room, a study, a double bedroom, a separate bathroom, a small kitchen area and a private veranda.

#1 – Praya Palazzo

The Praya Palazzo sits on the banks of the Chao Praya, or River of Kings, that wends its way through the capital. Constructed in the 1930s, in the days of the ancient kingdom of Siam under the rule of King Rama V, this is the only ancient residence of its kind in the city. The Thai nobleman who was originally assigned to plan the building turned to Italian artists of the time steeped in the influences of the Paladio style, and their impact on the building is evident.

This historical mansion features seventeen rooms, a swimming pool, library and gallery. The prime accommodation is in the Chao Praya Suite, which boasts a marvelous bathroom with enviable views of the river, whilst many of the additional suites and rooms also offer a river view.

The Praya Palazzo’s restaurant highlights authentic Thai cuisine in a traditional setting, with many of their ingredients sourced directly from the Royal Project, whilst also offering western fare.

The Praya Palazzo is perfectly located for those wishing to explore the historical quarter of the capital. From the hotel, you can walk to The Grand Palace, The Temple of the Emerald Buddha and The Temple of Dawn, stroll through the colorful Flower Market or meander amongst the bustling hive of streets in Bangkok’s Chinatown. The National Museum also lies nearby.

Charles Coleman is a Director at Thailand Holiday House.

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