Man at His Best

The Siam: A Thai Boutique Hotel Unlike Any Other

Turns out one of Asia's most beautiful hotels is not a vanity project.

BY Joy Ling | Mar 19, 2018 | Travel

Images by Michael Paul for The Siam's book Our World

It began as three acres of river frontage to moor the boats of a business magnate in 1973. Three years after his passing, it spent the following 25 years as a restaurant. Then an epiphany came to grandson and youngest of the family, Krissada Sukosol Clapp, to turn it into a boutique hotel. “My story is really The Siam’s story and The Siam’s story is mine,” he professes.

His affinity with the hotel, like the hotel itself, didn’t start out the conventional way. While the older siblings were actively participating in the family business by fulfilling management and financial duties, free-spirited Krissada dropped out of hotel school to major in anthropology, become an acclaimed rock star, and won multiple acting awards in Thailand. It was all very gratifying, but there was a greater dream to be birthed. As the lease to the restaurant expired, Krissada was asked to assess the fateful plot of land on the Chao Phraya River. That’s when a voice of destiny sowed the idea in his head, and thus, the story comes full circle.

This year, The Siam celebrates its fifth anniversary. The final product is actually far removed from the initial vision his mother, the empire’s matriarch, had of a Thai temple. Yet, the Art Deco and Beaux-Arts influences, married with traditional Thai teak houses, has emerged as the hotel’s distinctive architectural style. Above that, it’s the shared love of antiques between mother and son, that adds depth to their ‘little museum’.

Spending your stay there is not just visually uplifting, it’s spiritual as well. No room is a mould off a generic theme. Each carries a tale, with calculated placement of meaningful artefacts. Signature spaces are a medley of late nights and long days hunting and building upon this novel charm. Among the curated collection, you will find Han dynasty earthenware, a 16th-century gold lacquered Burmese Buddha, and a 1960s African mask from the Baule Tribe in the Ivory Coast.

Krissada likens the process to his own experience as an indie artist. It was the same need to craft a unique niche while going further to be recognized and appreciated amidst other established players in the field. Thankfully, his creative passions came through. The Siam is not a just family heirloom, nor even an exquisitely designed luxury hotel. Visit and see that it's a harmonized narrative of a family legacy, the calling of the youngest son, and his heartfelt expression of their world.

Our World will be sold at The Siam and selected bookstores worldwide from March 2018.