Some of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia can be found in the burgeoning and buzzing capital cities. If a hotel can bring on a wowing experience of an exotic destination, The Siam Bangkok and The Reverie Saigon will be perfect choices.
Exploring an Asian destination should mean eschewing the American-branded cookie-cutter chain hotel and sleeping someplace completely unexpected. For luxury travelers with discerning tastes, this choice should be based on design statement, location, over-the-top amenities, location experiences that cannot easily be found elsewhere, and amazing surrounds in the public spaces, accommodations, grounds and restaurants.
In Southeast Asia, even for luxury travelers, the best hotels in Southeast Asia can often be enjoyed for a fraction of what a luxury hotel experience would cost in the United States or Europe. Hospitality in Southeast Asia usually includes an amazing breakfast feast with all manner of local and international delicacies for a good start on the day. And these properties can usually be found in some of the best locations to be had in Southeast Asian cities, overlooking an iconic river and close to scenic locations for shopping and dining.
Savoring Southeast Asia: Best Boutique Hotel in Bangkok
The Siam in Bangkok is a Southeast Asian treat, a one of a kind moment on the River of Kings with a special history, stellar location and stunning design sensibilities.
Located in the royal Dusit neighborhood, a stone’s throw from the Grand Palace, the 39-key luxury hotel was created by rock star legend Krissada Sukosol Clapp using his family’s Sukosol luxury hotel brand.
The property spreads along the banks of the Chao Phraya with a sparkling lap pool and grassy lawn leading up to a private dock where guests can board ferries that take them across the river and into the heart of Bangkok for shopping and sightseeing. The river rides provide a comely breeze and relief from the stodgy heat that defines the weather most days in Southeast Asia. But guests can choose to linger by the pool, have a Thai massage in The Siam’s dazzling Opium Spa, or enjoy afternoon tea at Café Cha.
The Siam opened in 2012 with dazzling design that displayed the owner’s passion for Art Deco. The property was envisioned according to a romantic bygone era of the last century when such socialites as silk tycoon/spy Jim Thompson and his notorious cocktail consort Connie Mangskau were once the toast of Bangkok. Their parties that attracted famed international faces of the time: Jacqueline Kennedy, Henry Ford, John Rockefeller and Roger Moore.
Each room and suite at The Siam evokes that luster with unusual furnishings and flourishes from the 1920s and 1930s. The property brings original Thai houses that were moved from the former Thai capital of Ayutthaya and salvaged by Thompson and Mangskau. These are now reconfigured as a restaurant, or a teaching kitchen, or The Siam’s top suite: Connie’s House.
Guests of this luxurious Bangkok hotel will stay in rooms that had cost some $1.5 million to design and decorate: suites done up in stunning Art Deco elegance and offering interior verandahs for leisurely breakfasts and afternoon teas, overlooking a private dipping pool. There are a dozen spacious Mae Nim suites, which offer views of the river. Ten villas open up to private gardens, dipping pools and open-air moon terraces. Naturally, personal butler service is available for the asking.
A stay at The Siam can be a supremely Thai experience as the property offers several fulfilling ways for guests to spend their days in Bangkok, whether through a river cruise to enchanting spots along the Chao Phraya River, or having a “sak yantra” tattoo etched by a master monk (who inked such an image on the back of Angelina Jolie) in the resort’s specially consecrated space, or learning Muay Thai boxing, enjoying a class in Thai cuisine, or rediscovering your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual attunement with a multiday wellness program offered at The Siam.
Nightly rates start at sound $650 per night.
Savoring Southeast Asia: Renewal at The Reverie Saigon in Old Saigon
Few luxury hotels in Southeast Asia make the kind of statement that The Reverie Saigon does. The property launched in 2015 with 224 rooms, 62 suites and 89 apartments in a 39-story mixed-use tower. Interiors infuse delicate Vietnamese expression with dramatic Italian declarations to make it a must-see in Ho Chi Minh City, if not a must-stay.
The Reverie rises out of District 1 that was once the former French Quarter and is now the hub of luxury and business in this bustling city. The Saigon River flows nearby and rooms in this upper floor hotel offer a view of the colorful wooden boats and traditional fan-shaped junks that ply the Saigon and Mekong, located slightly south of the city.
This Leading Hotels of the World property teamed up with top interior design houses in Italy to create public spaces of energetic mosaics similar to what might be found in grand Venetian palazzos. Walls cascade in towers of flowers, an intriguing 15-foot throne sofa of purple ostrich leather with flowing gold trim centers the lobby, complemented by various tones of marble, molded gold and jeweled furnishings that defy the imagination.
A circa 1895 Bachestein grand piano now stands as a reinterpreted art piece outside The Reverie Saigon’s ornate La Scala ballroom. Rooms, furnishings, artworks, even functional desks and chairs all have the signature of a renowned Italian design house behind them.
Rooms at The Reverie Saigon continue the eye-popping drama with marbled mirrors, dripping chandeliers, sharp metallic-hued furnishings or dimpled leather chairs, grand four-poster beds and sumptuous marble and indigo-tiled bathrooms, all with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city. Find a dozen configurations and designs in the room choices leading up to the 2,981-square-foot, two-bedroom Saigon Suite penthouse on the building’s top two floors.
Guests dine in five restaurants that also paint a lavish scene in dizzying decor elements and furnishings. Italian fare is on the menu at four of them and the fifth is a Chinese setting specializing in Cantonese cuisine. Even casual repasts at The Long Bar, The Reverie Saigon’s easy-in-easy-out spot for cocktails and snacks, mean wood-fired pizza from a specially imported oven, and burgers sprinkled with gold leaf specks.
The Spa at The Reverie Saigon does not disappoint. Expect the same mesmerizing design touches in the lounges and amenity spaces. It spans two floors and offers a Himalayan pink salt sauna and color therapy steam room, an invigorating ice fountain (in the men’s area) and comprehensive treatments that bring on a harmonious blend of both Eastern and Western therapies. Consider the Classic Vietnamese, for instance, for a combination of Vietnamese cupping and massage techniques; or an aromatherapy selection that combines Swedish and deep-tissue massage with essential oil blends sealed by warm jade stones to boost immunity and calm the body and mind.
Savoring Southeast Asia: What to do in Ho Chi Minh City
Time spent in Saigon outside The Reverie Saigon can be as spectacular as moments wrapped up in the hotel. The Reverie Saigon offers two curated tours that bring the culture and sense of place into focus. The Reverie’s “Cruising Saigon” day package sends hotel guests off with a personal butler on a private two-hour sunset cruise on the Saigon River. The tour then switches gears at sundown for a city-chic adventure on a chauffeured vintage Vespa.
The cruise includes a picnic hamper brimming full of sweets and savories, such as smoked duck & egg sandwiches, cherry compote and traditional Vietnamese banh mi, all paired with a bottle of Taittinger Champagne.
Booked as a three-night package, the Cruising Saigon option starts at $1,152 single or double and also includes:
• Three nights in your choice of accommodation
• Round-trip airport transfers in a luxury vehicle
• Access to The Reverie Lounge
• Complimentary Wi-Fi
• Complimentary minibar (refreshed daily)
The Cruise and Vespa portions can be enjoyed on separate days but the property needs at least five days advance booking for either each portion.
Pearls of Saigon is another option and focuses on Vietnam’s energized art scene as a way to tell the country’s stories of history and culture. It’s an eight-hour exploration custom-curated to travelers’ interests, going as lite or as deep as desired with stops as the Duc Minh private gallery for modern and post-modern works, as well as a private tour and lunch at Salon Saigon (exclusive to guests of The Reverie Saigon).
Other sites along the way may include the grand halls of the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum as well as a selection of galleries, artists’ homes and studios.
The tour comes packaged with
• Two nights of accommodation
• Round-trip airport transfers
• Daily breakfast
• Private luxury car and chauffeur service with sweets, savories and non-alcoholic beverages throughout the tour
• Private, five-course lunch of traditional Vietnamese cuisine at Salon Saigon
Rates start at $1,422 for rooms and $1,782 for suites, single or double occupancy.
Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates– Curator of undiscovered luxury travel locales with insider info and news from our worldwide portfolio of hotels, wellness retreats, and eco-resorts. View our portfolio on our Online Directory.
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