James Williams, host of CNN’s popular travel programme “In 24 Hours” recently led viewers on a 24-hour, high-end tour of Bangkok and former capital Ayutthaya.
His tour included Wat Pho, the Siam Hotel, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, a trip on the river, a food tour with the chef from Nahm restaurant, drinks at Banyan Tree and a stop at the city’s latest architectural icon MahaNakhon.
The Siam Hotel, one of the programme’s destinations, is a new property run by noted musician/actor Krissada Sukosol Clapp. Better known by his nickname Noi, he stepped into the family hotel business and has created this property in one-of-a-kind decoration.
An avid antique collector himself, Noi has spent decades collecting treasures from across the country and around the globe. He then spent years more, meticulously curating the collection, all while finessing the vision for his 39- suite hotel.
“In my heart I feel like I was born at the wrong time,” Noi explains. “I wish I has been born a hundred years ago in the 1910s or 1920s. Each room is inspired by an element of the country’s storied history, and lavishly decorated with irreplaceable pieces and artworks from the period. Guests are invited to truly indulge in another world. It's all about the soul and the meaning behind every object. It's no different when you build a hotel or you write a song or you make a movie”.
The soul of this hotel comes in its reflection of a simpler time. High white ceilings with colonial style fans meet old wooden floorboards. A private cinema room sits on one floor, an LP listening room on another while 2,000-year-old Buddha statues sit in the hallway. Noi is known to return to the hotel weekly, with armfuls of new treasures to quietly arrange about the property.
The hotel has since become the go-to destination for international actors and musicians on tour, who often seek out the pool villas. As the hotel itself is the only one in the city to offer these private pools, it now also has the correspondingly highest room rates in Bangkok. Prices for their popular villas start at US$1,080 (about Bt37,000) per night, while suites begin at $475.
Williams’s journey started as the sun came up with a boat ride on the Chao Phraya river to Wat Pho, where he was shown around by the same senior monk who accompanied former US president Barack Obama on his 2012 visit.
In the afternoon, Williams headed to the historic Mandarin Oriental Hotel for high tea with famed Lawrence Osborne to learn why this city is one of his literary dreams. He then boarded one of the Anantara Riverside’s lavishly refurbished rice barges for a cruise up the Chao Phraya river to Thailand’s former capital, Ayutthaya, a Unesco World Heritage Site.
As evening approached, the host returned to Bangkok just in time for dusk at the famous Moon Bar at the Banyan Tree Bangkok, which also happens to be the perfect place to catch a glimpse of Bangkok’s newest building and now Thailand’s tallest, MahaNakhon. He also met with the owner, Sorapoj Techakraisri. Finally, Williams heads to Nahm, one of the top restaurants in Bangkok, to learn what makes the Thai palate tick with chef Prin Polsuk.
The Bangkok episode of “In 24 Hours” is now airing on CNN International, and can also be watched online at CNN.com/in24hours.