Patravadi Theatre is reborn as Theatre Residence boutique hotel

The hotel where the neighborhood is the stage, and the people are the audience
Sereechai Puttes/Time Out Bangkok
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Those who've been around long enough—the cultured ones, especially—must have been to Patravadi Theatre at least once or twice to indulge in mind-blowing contemporary acts. Established by National Artist Patravadi Mejudhon, the theater provided entertainment, fantasy and glamour in an open-air setting near the river. A few years ago, Patravadi relocated to Hua Hin and brought her art and artistic endeavors with her, leaving the crown jewel of the Wang Lang neighborhood behind. Later on, Patravadi’s daughter, Velvadi Sritrairatana, enlisted the help of her siblings and relatives to revive the theatre, but in another form, putting in place a hotel that still pays respects to the performance arts. That's how Theatre Residence was born. 

 

"Long before our time, this area was part of the palace grounds. Back in the day, it was the place where artists lived, trained and practiced."

 

“Do you know why the area was called Wang Lang?” Pantoee Sritrairatana, Velvadi’s brother and the hotel’s marketing head, asks. “Long before our time, this area was part of the palace grounds. Back in the day, it was the place where artists lived, trained and practiced. These artists performed only for the royal family, they didn’t perform for anyone else. Later, they became civil servants, [and left the area]. Khun Ying Supratra [Singholaka], who was given this piece of land, preserved it.” Khun Ying Surpatra was a noblewoman who served in the royal court of King Rama VI. (She was also a businesswoman who transformed her mother’s shuttle boat service into the multimillion-dollar business known to us today as Chao Phraya Express Boat.) She kept the land granted to her by the king relatively untouched before passing it on to her daughters, one of them Patravadi, who, in 1992 established a theater on part of the land.

 

 

 

“And now, my sister has turned it into [Theatre Residence]. So, basically three generations of women have been involved,” says Pantoee, while guiding us through the hotel to marvel at the details designed to recreate the hotel’s history. Airy and welcoming, the lobby was built in the shape of a shipyard to illustrate what occupied the land before it became a theater. Each guest is welcomed by a bust statue of Khun Ying Supatra, and behind it, costumes Patravadi used to wear onstage. Set behind the gigantic lobby is a courtyard and swimming pool hugged by a green, L-shaped building where the hotel rooms are housed. Excerpts and quotes, as well as photos and stage props from famous plays adorn each floor. The rooms, however, are dressed in modern-minimalist décor and neutral tones, and are equipped with everything you would need for a pleasant stay. Guests fascinated with the hotel’s surroundings can take a boat tour, but not along the Chao Phraya. Theatre Residence looks to a more off-the-beaten-track approach, taking guests down smaller canals to see another side of Bangkok.

 

"We know exactly what’s here and there. We’re happy to show you what’s best in our ’hood. Places that have been running for ages, generation after generation."

 

The hotel has one restaurant where you can feast on breakfast and all-day meals designed—and sometimes prepared—by Patravadi’s daughter, Pataravarin Timkul, a famous actress who’s also now an avid chef with her own cookbooks and a cooking program on TV. Pantoee explains that visitors are also encouraged to go out and explore the neighbourhood, which has long been famous for its street eats. “We’re not a newbie so we know exactly what’s here and there. We’re happy to show you what’s best in our ’hood. Places that have been running for ages, generation after generation.” Pantoee hints that they’re also renovating a family house by the river into a restaurant, which should be able to welcome guests before Songkran. 

“Wang Lang is charming, lovely,” he says. “Every morning, you’ll still see a mother walking her child to school. You’ll see kids singing the national anthem every morning. You can offer alms to monks right here in front of the hotel. It feels like we’re back in the old days, the traditional days. These people have lived their whole life here. It may look busy, but only at lunchtime. It’s slow, a slow river lifestyle.”

 

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