Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Bangkok -- Singing the praises of Siam City Hotel

 The Siam City Hotel has been around nearly 30 years, but its peaceful blend of colonial and Thai architecture is now almost enveloped in the downtown brawl of high-rise buildings, road flyovers, and BTS stanchions of the Phaya Thaya area.

It doesn't have the pizzazz of some of Bangkok's  sexier new boutique hotels, nor does it have the opulent splendour of some of the newer 5-star offerings.

But it does have something that no-one else has ...

It's proprietor: Kamala Sukosol.

Wow, what a character! This matriarch  is a huge name in Thai musical circles, having been something of a superstar in her earlier days. And to date she has raised A$1,000,000 for charity through her singing, concerts and CD sales, earning her Forbes Asia's 'Hero of Philanthropy' title for 2009.

Her energy levels, even now, are awe inspiring. 'We must be passionate about what we do and do it with love, integrity and sincerity,' she says, always with a lively glint in her eye.

She has certainly poured passion in the Siam City Hotel, combining traditional Thai aesthetics with early 20th century European Art Nouveau and Art Deco influences. The communal areas of the hotel brim with exquisite antiques, artifacts and curios from around Asia and across the globe. Over 500 pieces of Ming Dynasty Chinese pottery to Burmese wood sculptures and traditional Thai mural paintings are on show.Every one lovingly collected, curated and meticulously displayed by her.

Her daughter Marisa, executive vice president of the group (they have other properties, notably the Siam Bayshore in Pattaya) is made from a similar mould to her mum. In fact she's also a renowned singer and recording artist in her own right.

Which is why it was such a treat recently to have them both come to the hotel's restaurant to say Hello to some guests, have a chat with other diners, and then suddenly have them break spontaneously into song. Jing jing!

They soft-shoed their way through a few jazz standards with professional aplomb, getting the audience to join in with choruses and hand-claps. Most were gob-smacked by this exuberant eruption in the middle of dinner, all ring-led by Khun Kamala.

One of the tracks she's recorded, Young at Heart, seems to sum up her approach to life. 

So if you're looking for a hotel with style, loads of character, and room for serendipity, check out -- or rather check into -- the Siam City Hotel, Bangkok. No amount of Swiss Hotel Management training can possibly create something as uniquely and hospitably Thai as this.

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