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REVIEW – The Siam (Bangkok)

The Siam

  • Room Type: Courtyard Pool Villa
  • Typical Nightly Rate: 42,000 THB++
  • Stay Type: Hosted stay
  • Loyalty Program: Virtuoso


Intro


After our wonderful experiences at the truly remarkable Four Seasons Bangkok and Capella Bangkok next door, I was intrigued to see how The Siam compared.

This property is a wildly different proposition to the glamorous lobbies, acres of marble, patisseries and delis of Bangkok’s newest luxury hotel openings.

Instead, The Siam offers a more intimate experience, far from the city centre yet close to most of the city’s main attractions via riverboat.

In a city where traffic is so often gridlocked and the word ‘chaos’ is used almost as a term of endearment, I wondered if The Siam could provide the perfect antidote. The smallest possible room here is a suite measuring 80m² and with only 39 rooms here, the overall room count is reassuringly low.

Boutique doesn’t seem like the correct term for a property with a proper spa, gym, riverfront pool and even a film screening room. Yet, the ethos here has always purported to be one of carefully curated and personalised service…

 


Booking


Our clients are able to enjoy additional Virtuoso benefits when booking The Siam:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom
  • $100USD equivalent Food & Beverage credit utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • A selected welcome drink for two persons on the first evening at the pier or Deco Bar
  • Afternoon Treat from 3 – 4 PM at Deco Bar or the swimming pool for guests staying in a pool villa
  • Early check-in / Late check-out, subject to availability

Room rates and payment terms match The Siam website exactly, with payment taken directly by The Siam during your stay.

You can book a Virtuoso rate at The Siam using our online booking portal:

BOOK SIAM BANGKOK WITH VIRTUOSO BENEFITS

If you’re booking with us for the first time, here’s a quick guide on how to use the booking portal:

HOTEL BOOKING GUIDE

If you’re looking to book multiple hotels or need help deciding which is best for you, feel free to drop us an email!:

EMAIL FOR BOOKING ENQUIRIES


Arrival


Since we were travelling from Capella Bangkok we arranged to be picked up by The Siam’s boat, on one of its regular scheduled trips to SIAM Icon mall, a couple of hundred metres down the river.

Unlike Capella’s utilitarian vessel, The Siam’s boat was a gleaming jewel of the golden age, resplendent in brightly polished wood and steel. This felt like less of a ferry and more of a luxurious pleasure boat.

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Staff effortlessly loaded all of our luggage on board and immediately swung into action; offering us cold towels and refreshing mango and passionfruit drinks, served in glass hip flasks.

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Siam Bangkok 5 - REVIEW - The Siam (Bangkok)

As we quietly skimmed along the Chao Phraya river, with the sun starting to set behind some of Bangkok’s most famous temples, it was hard to deny the allure of staying in a riverside hotel, even if the location wouldn’t otherwise be considered ‘central’.

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The Siam – cruising past Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan.

After 30 minutes or so we reached The Siam’s pier, where a welcoming party was waiting to greet us, including our butler and Nick, the hotel’s wonderful GM. Nick was a constant presence throughout our stay, chatting with guests at meal times and he was always quick to take immediate ownership of any issues raised.

The level of personal service that he has provided to our clients since this stay has been absolutely remarkable too. Nick truly goes above and beyond and this shone through in the service throughout our time at The Siam.

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The Siam – riverboat pier.

Pool

Immediately to one side of the pier was the hotel’s famous riverfront pool, with Bill Bensley’s signature monochrome patterns effortlessly complimenting the seating on the pier.

Service here was excellent and the overall atmosphere was very relaxed and exclusive. There were no families here during our stay here though, so I can imagine this could quickly change if a couple of noisy children started running around, given the overall footprint of the pool area.

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The Siam – riverfront pool.

Our butler led us past the pool and into an enclosed neighbourhood of pool villas, away from the main hotel building.

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Indeed, we didn’t actually venture beyond the riverfront area and villa neighbourhood until our second day at the property!

The greenery here was clearly very well maintained but didn’t feel overly manicured…which feels like a weird thing to say when there was literally a checkerboard of alternating grass and stone beneath our feet.

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The Siam – villa neighbourhood.

Somehow, the combination of the greenery and the intricately carved wooden doors made this feel like stepping back in time. There’s no denying that The Siam does not feel like a city hotel at all, least of all a hotel in one of the world’s most hectic cities.

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The Siam – the door to our villa.

 


Courtyard Pool Villa


Floor Plan

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The Siam – courtyard pool villa floor plan.

Entrance

As we stepped into the courtyard for which our villa was named, the sense of tranquility was absolute. The only sound that could be heard was that of water cascading into the pool (the cascade can be turned off at the touch of a button, should absolute silence be more your thing).

If you’re used to corporate chain hotels, it can take a while getting used to the design here. The antique daybed, the unique steps into the pool, the weather beaten columns; none of this looks shiny or new…and that’s clearly intentional.

In an overly polished villa, the smallest of scuffs can distract you. Here the focus is on transporting you back in time using a carefully curated selection of antique pieces. Something which is far harder to do than to pay a contractor to build multiple identical rooms to specification.

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The Siam – courtyard pool villa.

A winding staircase led upstairs to the villa’s sun terrace. The key difference between the courtyard villas and the river view villas is that the river is visible from the upstairs terraces of the river view units.

However, it is worth noting that in those top tier villas, this is the only spot from which the river is visible. In contrast, our view was of the old house which, up until recently, housed the top suite at the hotel.  (The suite is no longer sold, as people often booked it not realising that it was designed to be an extremely authentic experience, complete with super low ceilings and almost no natural light.)

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Siam Bangkok 16 - REVIEW - The Siam (Bangkok)

 

In all honesty, we hardly went up to the terrace, since seeing modern skyscrapers rather shattered the illusion of being transported to the past. We preferred to spend our time sitting by the pool, a particularly pleasant experience in the mornings when sunlight flooded the coffee table area and the daybed.

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The Siam – courtyard pool villa.

Bedroom

Beyond the courtyard was our bedroom, featuring a rather imposing bed, which sat atop an elevated platform at the back of the room. The bedroom felt very spacious and the bedside tables offered more than enough surface area on which to place water, a phone, vitamins and books.

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The Siam – villa bedroom.

Both sides of the bed featured universal power and USB ports. Our villa featured older electronics but by the time you read this, every villa should have had all the switches and power sockets updated with more modern units.

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The Siam – villa bedside table.

If I could change anything about this bedroom design, I would have added a curtain between the sitting area and the bed. Being so high up and seeing all the furniture below just didn’t feel cosy for sleeping.

The TV was so far away that it was tough to view too. Perhaps a wall at the foot of the bed, with a TV mounted on it, would solve both problems simultaneously.

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The Siam – villa bedroom.

In addition to an amenity of fresh fruit, we were presented with hotel branded water bottles and a jar of absolutely delicious chocolate truffles. I have to say, these gave the truffles at Trisara a run for their money!

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Siam Bangkok 23 - REVIEW - The Siam (Bangkok)

Beneath the TV was a minibar area featuring a fantastic coffee machine which I’d never before seen in a hotel room: a Vittoria Espressotoria. I make no attempt to disguise my disdain for the quality of Nespresso and am always thrilled when hotels make the effort to provide something different.

I was also impressed with the pricing of the minibar: $3 for soft drinks and less than $15 for small format bottles of spirits is extremely reasonable!

Despite the old world styling of the room, I was pleased to see that connectivity with the TV was very simple via the interface box.

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Walk-in wardrobe

Between the bedroom and the bathroom was a walk in wardrobe area featuring a second desk, set up with plenty of natural light for doing one’s makeup. It is worth noting that not all rooms feature a complete desk, another room that we saw featured a rather unique looking piece of furniture with an oversized mirror and a multitude of drawers.

If having a proper table is important to you, it is worth mentioning this when booking.

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The wardrobe space itself felt a little tight, with not much space to open larger checked suitcases, although I did appreciate the full length mirror.

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Bathroom

Our bathroom felt absolutely cavernous, with the height of the ceiling more apparent here than in the bedroom. The design cleverly incorporated skylights which permitted plenty of natural light in during the day, despite the lack of regular windows.

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The design of the twin vanities was fantastic, with the hanging lanterns really adding to the atmosphere by illuminating the golden sinks.

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The shower and toilet were located behind separate doors at the other end of the bathroom. The shower pressure was excellent and the toiletries provided had a wonderful scent of lemongrass, perfectly in fitting with the Thai surroundings. I was also a big fan of the very plush Frette bathrobes!

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Guest Facilities


Hotel Map

At this point, I thought it would be helpful to create a map showing the layout of the hotel. Up until now I’ve only show the parts closest to the river, however a great deal of the hotel facilities and rooms are located in the main building and reception building, further inland.

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The Siam – hotel map.

Since we arrived at sunset on our first night, we didn’t have much of a chance to explore. We stuck to the bar on the pier, Chon Thai restaurant and our villa. As such, we really didn’t have a clue about how large and impressive the hotel facilities were, until we went exploring the following morning…

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The Siam – main building.

Ordinarily, guests would reach the hotel by road and would be welcomed by the sight of the bright and verdant courtyard lobby, together with the concierge desk.

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The Siam – courtyard lobby.

The concierge area is rather compact as ordinarily guests will be checked in by their butlers; either in the courtyard lobby or directly in their suites.

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The Siam – concierge desk.

Coffee Shop

This section of the hotel also houses a small coffee shop together with The Story House restaurant.

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The Siam – coffee shop.

The Story House

The Story House restaurant is a real showcase for Bill Bensley’s unmistakable design and is rather reminiscent of his work at the Park Hyatt Siem Reap.

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The Siam – The Story House restaurant.

Gift Shop

The gift shop is undoubtedly the one spot that most perfectly encapsulates the essence of this property. It is the absolute antithesis to Amanpuri. You won’t find beach towels and branded baseball caps here; instead there are alien heads, anime statues, antique bird cages, opium pipes and a full scale replica of E.T. wearing a tribal outfit.

It is without question the greatest hotel gift shop that I’ve ever seen. Utter pandemonium.

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Indoor Jungle

The hotel’s main building is dominated by a jaw dropping indoor jungle. Individual palm leaves are two stories tall and apparently have to be regularly pruned, as the greenhouse growing environment means that they’d grow even taller if left unchecked! (Something which was discovered when the hotel shut during the pandemic and a Day of the Triffids scenario almost unfolded.)

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The Siam – welcome to the jungle…

 

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Siam Bangkok 47 450x675 - REVIEW - The Siam (Bangkok)

Art Collection and Screening Room

The hotel’s owners have filled the space with countless incredible antique furniture pieces, sculptures, photographs and paintings. In all honesty, you could spend a full day just exploring the hotel’s collection.

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Siam Bangkok 44 - REVIEW - The Siam (Bangkok)The Siam - Chinese sculpture

The screening room is home to the owner’s movie paraphernalia (including another E.T. statue) and can be used by hotel guests for private screenings.

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The Siam – screening room.

Gym

I was worried that a hotel with a focus on quirky, old-world design would not have much of a gym to speak of, but I was actually pleasantly surprised.

Behind a set of antique gymnasium doors, sourced from Paris, was a modern facility featuring a smith machine, cable crossover, numerous Life Fitness machines, a Muay Thai ring and even a tire for flipping.

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Billiards Room

Nestled away at the far end of the hotel’s main building is a very elegant and spacious billiards room featuring an impressive antique table.

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The Siam – billiards room.

Opium Spa

In a courtyard below this was the hotel’s renowned Opium Spa. The spa uses Sodashi products which I absolutely love, having first encountering them at the Four Seasons DIFC Dubai.

Unfortunately we didn’t have the chance to experience a treatment here as we had to go and deal with yet another repair issue with damaged Rimowa luggage, at the time of the only available opening in the spa schedule.

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The Siam – Opium Spa.

Music Lounge

Tucked away in a far flung corner of the hotel is this wonderfully bright lounge room, complete with a collection of vintage records, a baby grand piano and a taxidermied alligator…naturally.

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The Siam – music lounge.

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The Siam – music lounge.

 


Siam Suite


After being taken on a wonderful impromptu tour of the hotel by Nick the GM, we took the opportunity to view a couple of different rooms, starting with an entry level Siam Suite.

At 80m² these have to be some of the largest standard rooms in any city hotel (even Aman New York‘s standard rooms are ‘only’ 72m²).

Floor Plan

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The Siam – Siam Suite floor plan.

Living Room

We entered the suite via the extravagantly styled living room. Skylights and mirror walls ensured that plenty of natural light flooded in. I actually preferred the modern feel of this space to the more colonial vibe of the pool villa that we were in.

However, despite no expense having been spared on the furnishings, the TV looked comedically small against such a large wall.

Interestingly, despite having a much smaller footprint than a villa, this room is clearly better suited to those travelling with children. Curtains separate this room from the main bedroom and the sofa can be set up as a child’s bed.

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The Siam – Siam suite living room.

Bedroom

Much like the villas, each suite at The Siam is styled according to a different theme – this particular suite was styled with posters from classics of Asian cinema.

Interestingly, there was a much larger TV here than in the living room, perfect for parents who want to watch something after the kids have gone to sleep!

Behind the bed was a desk with a wardrobe either side. Again, it felt like there was more wardrobe space here than in the pool villa.

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The Siam – Siam suite bedroom.

Bathroom

The bathroom windows were frosted to provide privacy from the adjacent buildings but provided plenty of natural light nonetheless. The centrepiece of the bathroom was the pedestal mounted bathtub. This was very reminiscent of the bathtub in our suite at the Oberoi Amarvilas in India…albeit without the Taj Mahal view.

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The Siam – Siam suite bathroom.

Another aspect of this room which I preferred to our villa was the layout of the sinks. Each person has their own separate sink with a huge amount of counter space next to it, rather than having both sinks side by side, with limited counter space shared between them.

The shower was a tighter squeeze here though.

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Premier River View Suite


Floor Plan

There are two categories of River View Suite, with the key differences being the size of the living room and the space at the foot of the bed.

The premier version of the suite is 20m² larger and has a living room table with seating space for 4, where the standard version of the suite has a smaller coffee table with only two chairs.

The Premier version of the suite also features a seating area at the foot of the bed where the standard version does not.

Either way, the suites with a river view have a larger percentage of the room dedicated to the bathroom. This is fine for couples but I’d argue that a Siam Suite is superior to a River View suite for those intending to share the room with children.

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siam river view suite - REVIEW - The Siam (Bangkok)

Bedroom

Despite the lower ceiling compared to the Siam Suite, the bedroom felt very spacious…if a little less glamorous!

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The Siam – Premier River View Suite bedroom.

Behind the bed was a desk featuring plenty of power sockets and a very comfortable office chair. I much preferred this setup to the desk in our pool villa.

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The Siam – Premier River View Suite bedroom.

Tucked away in a corner by the desk was a storage area, which supplemented the two wardrobes found in the bathroom.

I noticed that the universal power sockets and light switches in this suite looked more modern than those in our villa. Presumably these, or something similar, will be installed during the scheduled 2022 refurb of the villas.

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Bathroom

The bathroom was located behind the desk and had an interesting setup whereby the sinks faced out to the view and were totally open to the room. This reminded me of our villa at Anantara Bazaruto in Mozambique.

 

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The Siam – Premier River View Suite bathroom.

The sinks were separated from the bathroom by a pair of large black wardrobes; these added a degree of privacy which could be further reinforced by the curtains behind them. I  personally found the bath here to have the most appealing presentation of any room that we saw in the hotel. The warm glow of the recessed lighting the lower ceiling and the addition of the plants really made the space feel cosy and inviting.

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©The Siam – Premier River View Suite bathroom.

The shower and toilet were located behind frosted glass doors, adjacent to the bath.

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Food and Drink


Breakfast at Chon Thai restuarant

One area in which I was sure The Siam would underperform against the newer luxury hotels in town was in the quality of the food and drink. Surely an out of the way hotel with only two restaurants couldn’t compete with Capella and Four Seasons and their plethora of dining options, two of which have Michelin stars?

You can probably tell where this is going.

The food throughout our stay at The Siam was exceptional and the service was very warm, proactive and personalised. Staff really engaged with us and ensured that we had a wonderful time at every meal.

Chon Thai restaurant was located just a few steps from our villa, right on the waterfront and it didn’t seem like many non-residents made the effort to come and dine here (more fool them).

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The Siam – Chon Thai restaurant.

Menu

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The Siam – breakfast menu.

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The Siam – breakfast menu.

One thing I particularly loved about the breakfast menu was the sheer variety of Thai dishes on offer. There is no question that in this regard it’s the best luxury hotel breakfast I’ve encountered in my many years of visiting Thailand.

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The Siam – khao niew moo yang.

The variety of herbal and soft drinks was rather impressive too and of course fresh young coconuts were also available, off menu.

One area in which things could be improved is the coffee. The cappuccinos were served scalded, too weak and covered in chocolate powder – basically a trip to the 90s. Subsequent requests for double espressos with milk on the side yielded better results.

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Siam Bangkok 83 - REVIEW - The Siam (Bangkok)

The western dishes were every bit as excellent as the Thai classics on offer. The lobster hash with poached egg, hollandaise and salmon roe was absolutely incredible.

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The Siam – lobster hash.

Kamara was also a huge fan of the ‘Ham and Cheese on Toast’ a wonderfully refined dish which combined figs, whipped ricotta, parma ham and truffle honey.

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The Siam – ham and cheese on toast.

We would have loved to have the opportunity to try even more dishes on our short stay. It felt particularly cruel when we got to see a large portion of the menu being set out for a family who pre-ordered before sitting to breakfast on our final morning:

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The Siam – coconut waffles with salted caramel, walnuts, streaky bacon and dulce de leche ice cream.

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The Siam – açai bowl and smashed avocado toast.

The Pier Bar

The Siam – Beverage List.pdf

In the evenings, the riverboat arrival pier is transformed into a wonderfully relaxing and atmospheric overwater bar, with a view of the setting sun. This is a world away from the skyscraper rooftop bars of the city or indeed the glamour and polish of Stella at Capella and BKK Social at the Four Seasons.

The formality was dialled right down, instead the focus was on enjoying the view and the rhythmic put-put-putting of the passing riverboat engines.

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The Siam – sunset bar.

The cocktail list had a firm focus on sweet flavours and syrups, so we opted to go for G&Ts as a ‘safe choice’. Service was also a little on the slow side. However, once we had a drink in hand, the overall effect was very relaxing and really that’s the point of this venue.

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The Siam – sunset bar.

Dinner at Chon Thai restaurant

Chon Thai a la carte.pdf

At dinnertime we had the option of either eating outside with a river view, or indoors with air conditioning – the latter was overwhelmingly the choice for the local families on staycations (and also Kamara).

Personally I loved the ambiance outside on the wicker chairs, surrounded by the warm light, the sounds of the river…and a patterned wall that reminded me of The Legend of Zelda.

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The Siam – Chon Thai restaurant at night.

The indoor dining room had a cool vibe of its own going though and regardless of the choice of room, the food and service were absolutely spectacular.

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There is no question that the dishes here have not been dumbed down for Western tastes. The depth and combinations of flavours on show were truly extraordinary. The portions were also extremely generous. We really had to push ourselves to finish everything but it was so delicious that we could hardly resist over ordering!

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The twice cooked longan honeyed ribs with fresh lime and chilli were quite possibly the best ribs I’ve ever eaten in my life. Better than any BBQ in the US. I was honestly blown away by how good they were. In fact I wouldn’t hesitate to travel to the Siam just to eat these on a future trip to Bangkok!

 


Service


Every guest at the hotel receives butler service, which was very quick and personalised. Dinner reservations, enquiries about boat times, museum tickets etc. – all requests were handled with minimal fuss and we felt truly taken care of.

Having this kind of service is great as you can send a quick Whatsapp when you’re out and about.  On your return to the hotel you will find that the butler will have taken care of a list of errands, leaving you completely free to relax.

I also feel the need to reiterate how hands on and personable Nick the GM is, clearly he’s in his element at a property with less than 40 rooms, where he can truly get to know every guest and ensure that the experience is personalised to their requirements.

The level of communication and care that our clients have received since our visit has also been without equal. Aman hotels aren’t providing this level of pre-arrival communication and honestly I don’t think most of them could!

Aside from the slightly slow service at The Pier, everywhere else we found that staff were friendly, engaging and highly conversational in English. This isn’t always the case at top hotels in Bangkok but here it felt like communication was crystal clear at all times.

 


Conclusion


Basics Checklist

☑︎ Power sockets near the bed
☑︎ Easy to understand light switches
☑︎ Coffee machine
☑︎ Separate shower and bath
☑︎ Blackout blinds
☑︎Stable, fast and free Wifi
☑︎ Feather pillows
☑︎ Quiet and powerful aircon

The Siam is a truly unique proposition a riverside hotel with an old world feel, far from the craziness of Sukhumvit. The decor and the overall atmosphere are not for everyone. If you’re looking for glitz and glamour, there are plenty of other hotels that will deliver with aplomb in this city.

However, if you’re looking for relaxation, tranquility, enormous rooms and highly personalised service, The Siam may well be the hotel for you.

There is nothing corporate or cookie cutter here. From the moment that you arrive, you feel as though you’ve been transported to a place which exists in some kind of alternate timeline: where priceless Chinese artefacts, gramophones and 1980s movie paraphernalia somehow coexist.

The location was my key reservation prior to visiting this property but having used the very reasonably priced private longtail boats, I actually found the experience far more pleasant than taking Ubers through gridlocked traffic from hotels closer to the centre.

If you’re a first time visitor to Bangkok, you’ll love how easy it is to get to most of the major temples. If you’re a regular visitor to the city, you’ll love exploring the art collection and enjoying the spa, gardens and pool.

If you can get your head around the often eccentric decor, the end result is a truly special property indeed.


Book The Siam Bangkok with Virtuoso Benefits


Our clients are able to enjoy additional Virtuoso benefits when booking The Siam Bangkok:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom
  • $100USD equivalent Food & Beverage credit utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • A selected welcome drink for two persons on the first evening at the pier or Deco Bar
  • Afternoon Treat from 3 – 4 PM at Deco Bar or the swimming pool for guests staying in a pool villa
  • Early check-in / Late check-out, subject to availability

Room rates and payment terms match The Siam Bangkok website exactly, with payment taken directly by The Siam Bangkok during your stay.

You can book a Virtuoso rate at The Siam Bangkok using our online booking portal:

BOOK SIAM BANGKOK WITH VIRTUOSO BENEFITS

If you’re booking with us for the first time, here’s a quick guide on how to use the booking portal:

HOTEL BOOKING GUIDE

If you’re looking to book multiple hotels or need help deciding which is best for you, feel free to drop us an email!:

EMAIL FOR BOOKING ENQUIRIES