Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, is a large city known for ornate shrines and vibrant street life. The boat-filled Chao Phraya River feeds its network of canals, flowing past the Rattanakosin royal district, home to opulent Grand Palace and its sacred Wat Phra Kaew Temple. Nearby is Wat Pho Temple with an enormous reclining Buddha and, on the opposite shore, Wat Arun Temple with its steep steps and Khmer-style spire.
Parked on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, in the midst of historic old Bangkok, Chakrabongse Villas offers antique-laden old Siam elegance plus a lush garden highlighted by a large swimming pool. The River View Suite, measuring 130 square metres, with charming wood panelling and period furnishings, is truly fit for a king. The throwback Thai House, around 100 metres, is perched on traditional stilts. This urban oasis was constructed in 1908 by HRH Prince Chakrabongse for when he attended ceremonies at the nearby Grand Palace, as well as leisurely picnics and excursions along the river. The heritage estate later served as the residence of HRH Prince Chula Chakrabongse, a well known writer and historian. His daughter has transformed the estate into an atmospheric boutique hotel with only seven rooms: three of modest size, but four massive suites, each with rich teak, an exclusive layout and look.
J Boroski Mixology
Finding this hidden little gem on Thonglor is part of the fun. Master mixologist Joseph Boroski has designed cocktail menus for many of the city’s hippest bars and restaurants. Ironically, then, at his self-styled cocktail den, there aren’t any menus at all. Visitors simply describe what they’re in the mood to drink – something crisp and dry, or sweet and fruity, and so on – and the barkeeps will whip something up accordingly. Ash Sutton designed the dimly lit, masculine interior, imbuing it with his signature warmth and sense of timeless character. If you like your cocktails with a double-shot of exclusivity, this is the place for you.
R-Haan is a fanciful Romanization of the Thai word for “food”. But what awaits at this hushed restaurant in the exclusive Thong Lo district has as much in common with ordinary food as a bungalow has with Versailles. This is the career capstone for veteran teacher and global proselytizer Chumpol Jangprai, who insists that each speciality, drawn from palace cookbooks as well as street carts, is made from scratch in order to encapsulate “eight tastes”. Between the Royal Thai Taste and Amazing Thai Taste fixed menus, R-Haan shows off chef Chumpol’s mastery of the full range of Thai regional dishes. An elite wine list and elegantly flowery tableware complement his caring touch with a panoply of native ingredients, old and new – from Mekong mackerel and Hua Hin-produced caviar to Phuket abalone, along with Thai wagyu beef and nine types of local mushrooms. All gussied-up with organic rice crumbs, homemade vinegar or smoked coconut.
Jim Thompson House
Jim Thompson was a former OSS operative who revived Thailand’s silk industry, then vanished without a trace; one of the region’s great unsolved mysteries. The legacy of this fascinating character still looms large at the thriving silk enterprise he left behind, and in his former home, turned into one of Asia’s most prominent museums and art centres. Thompson’s parties were legendary: he was the Gatsby of Bangkok, entertaining Thai society in six traditional teak houses moved here from Ayutthaya. Visitors can tour his home, stunning art collection and the surrounding verdant gardens. There are also displays on the silk production process, a museum, a Thai café-restaurant and wine bar, and a showroom selling exquisite silk products from the Jim Thompson brand.
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