When the original AnyasomVilla was built in the early 1940s it stood on the absolute outskirts of Bangkok. Today, still owned and managed by the same family, it’s near the heart of thriving downtown Sukhumvit. Sheltered in a long and quiet soi (a side street branching off a main street), the trees and tropical gardens virtually create a moat separating AriyasomVilla from the city and nearby Saen Saeb Khlong, Bangkok’s main canal. In 2008, AriyasomVilla opened its doors to guests following the completion of a swimming pool, spa and 24 luxury guest rooms in a new wing beside the original villa. Enter the restaurant, Na Aroon, in the original family mansion, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to prewar Bangkok – with polished floors, high ceilings and slow arts that are as leisurely as the afternoon teas.
When HRH Prince Chakrabongse of Siam (as Thailand was then known) built his compact, Italianate palace on the banks of the Chao Phraya River in 1908, little could he have known that one century on, local Thais and foreigners would be strolling his lawns sharing an aristocratic perspective of the river.
The palace echoes with tales of regal romance, not to mention scandalous “marrying out” with Europeans. Now owned by Narisa Chakrabongse, the prince’s granddaughter, guest accommodation is offered in several waterfront pavilions. Well insulated from the tourist drumbeat of nearby Maharat Road, there are six suites offering modern facilities and ranging in size from 12 square metres to the Chinese Suite’s generous 155 square metres.
Narisa’s finely honed Thai taste is evident in the decor of each room. Don’t forget to gaze across the Chao Phraya River to where the spires of Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, are raised like arms towards a Buddhist heaven, and give thanks for your good fortune.