The House of Regal Splendor
My love for vintage style is a true love. I appreciate the modern touch from time to time but whenever I see some vintage buildings or retro-style decorations, my heart will just start pounding, fast. When I first saw The House on Sathorn, I immediately fell in love with this mansion.
Currently a bar and restaurant, the converted patrician mansion itself has a long and interesting history behind it. Built in 1889 as a private residence of a Thai aristocrat, Luang Chitchamnongwanit, this neo-classic, three-story building rises in solitary splendor in the compound of the W Bangkok Hotel, housing one of the finest royal decorative ensembles.
The mansion’s bold choice of color and design is reflected in its solid yellow exterior and green window panes. The Celtic trefoil stucco is intertwined with a rice flower motif, supposedly the lady of the house’s favorite flower, which adorns the mansion walls, the fence’s decorations, and even the ground as engravings.
In the 1920s, the mansion functioned as a hotel. By mid-century, it was given a new lease on life as the original site of the Russian embassy that operated until the close of the century. Given the succession of Thai and Russian ownerships, the place has a rich history of art and design.
For a start, the stately interior is a visually stunning combination of both heritages with the unmistakable mixture of modern sensibility and historic style. Now owned and operated by the W Bangkok Hotel, the sumptuously furnished mansion is currently comprised of four separate venues: the hotel’s signature restaurant The Dining Room, The Courtyard serving as an outdoor bistro, The Bar and The Conservatory for meetings and social gatherings.
AvroKO, a design and concept firm – responsible for each venue’s interior design – delicately conserves the vintage touch, and yet maintains its modern vibe that smoothly permeates the entire place.
The Dining Room welcomes guests with its open kitchen featuring pastel yellow walls, hardwood flooring and magnificent tapestries using a deconstructive Thai embroidery technique – once exclusively reserved for the fabrics of royal garments.
The tapestries are covered in custom-made sequins that create abstract images with modern twists. They go so well with the antique boar’s head carved in high relief and gazing down from a lofty height as part of the lavish wall furnishings. The symbolic boar, one of the Chinese zodiac signs denoting the original owner’s birth year, is in general depicted in mythical form and in flight and believed to bring prosperity and good fortune to the believer’s family while watching over the House on Sathorn.
On the second floor, it’s easy to be astounded by the hallway’s intricately carved ceiling and wooden wall paneling. Skillfully hidden behind the wooden wall is the Secret Room that hosts special or private events. Particularly adding to the room’s sophisticated touch is a plush red leather bench right next to the bay window area. Its luxurious ambiance escalates with a marble counter and a grand chandelier that perfectly complements the carved ceiling.
Thanks to its vibrant color scheme, the Emerald Room is spectacular with oversized sculptures and opulent furnishings. These beautiful fiberglass sculptures, designed by Pongsatat Uaiklang, founder of Dong Sculpture, are reminiscent of those sacred offerings vessels used in Buddhist rituals and royal ceremonies.
The Courtyard is an outdoor bistro with a relaxed ambiance, interspersed with black rattan chairs and tables. This is where you can enjoy a contrasting view of Thailand’s tallest building, MahaNakorn, while sipping tea in the comfort of a green garden next to the 130-year-old pastel mansion.
In 2001, the Fine Arts Department designated the mansion as a national heritage property. So, as a Thai, I am more than happy to see that even with new skyscrapers popping up across town, the House on Sathorn stands tall in all its glory to preserve, for posterity, and retells the stories of the recent past through its timeless architecture.
The House on Sathorn, W Bangkok Hotel
106 North Sathorn Road, Silom
Tel. 02 344 4025