What’s it like? If you’re looking for a sanctuary with character and charm, you’ve come to the right place. Built over 60 years ago by one of King Rama IV’s grandsons, MR Bongsebrahma, it was originally designed as a home for his family – the result is an exquisite traditional Thai teak dwelling – until it was converted into a fine dining restaurant in 1965 frequented by royalty and celebrities. In its latest incarnation, it has become a wellness retreat.
Where is it? It’s so tucked away on one of those charming and secluded soi (lanes) along bustling Sukhumvit Road, so tranquil, lush and secluded that even my taxi driver was surprised it existed without his knowledge.
After the pampering, the shopping can follow at popular Emporium mall, a few minutes' walk away.
HOW MANY ROOMS? Pick from 21 guestrooms and suites occupying five tastefully restored teak residences. A free-form pool meanders like a klong (canal) under some of the century-old houses hauled from Ayudhya, the ancient capital of Siam.
Room facilities: All rooms exude an individual character but all contain priceless teak furniture, sumptuous Thai silks and artefacts and mod-cons (A bit hard though to imagine air conditioning and cable TV intruding in those days!). The standard units come with high, wood-beamed ceilings and spacious bathrooms equipped with quaint antique “bucket” seats and nude sketches on the walls, while the suites are more home-style villas complete with spa therapy beds, plunge pools, a dining area and even a kitchenette. Amenities include fresh fruits, a pandan-flavoured brew and Thai sweets. Guests are encouraged to forsake their mobiles, laptops and tobacco habits, at least while staying in house. If you really must log on, wireless internet access is provided in the library.
Restaurant: Thai spa cuisine doesn’t compromise on taste and refinement. Kick start your system with a shot of warm apple vinegar (it works wonderfully!), followed by meals painstakingly prepared with organic produce. Savour a sublime Tom Kha chicken soup and sushi-inspired red-snapper-vegetable rolls - all brandishing low calorie and fat count.
Bar: None available as no alcoholic drinks, except wines and Champagne at dinnertime, are allowed. You’d be better off gulping down the fresh fruit and vegetable juices, herbal tonics and elixirs that are offered any time.
Spa: The star attraction is housed in two separate teak structures where a wellness consultation will match your dosha (Ayurvedic personality) with just about every pampering massage and head-to-toe treatment. Enjoy the infrared sauna, herbal steam room and beauty salon too.
Leisure facilities: A cosy gym, aerobics studio and meditation pavilion will ensure a good workout, inside and out. In the mornings, the “Mind & Body Fitness Classes” give you a choice of yoga, tai-chi and Pilates.
Price: Rates start from US$265 per person per night and include a personalised wellness consultation, three Thai spa meals a day, choice of daily massages (Thai, Asian Blend, Swedish or Reflexology) and use of facilities and activities.
Verdict: A rarity in the concrete jungle of Bangkok. Try it before the secret gets out, that is, if it hasn’t already.
Contact: 7 Soi Sukhumvit, 32 Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok 10110, tel 66 2258 5403,www.thebaanthai.com
Law Kah Yen