Amdaeng is an old Thai title reserved for unmarried women. It’s so old that we no longer use it. Many of the younger generation have never even heard of it, that is until it became the name of a new boutique hotel by the Chao Phraya River in one of Bangkok’s most historical neighborhoods.
Amdaeng, however, wasn’t randomly named. The name was given to the hotel to pay respects to the woman who first owned the land the hotel stands on. “Her name was Amdaeng Klee,” explains Passapol “Lek” Limpisirisan, one of the co-owners. “The deed we received is so old—aged, in fact—and in it, it says His Majesty King Chulalongkorn had granted the rights to the land to her. We think it is more cool that we should name the hotel in her honor, a Thai who owned the property before our time. It can also trigger the younger generation in acknowledging what Amdaeng really means.”
Lek and his business partner/co-owner, Wiboon “Min” Leepakpreeda, are two successful advertising execs who have always dreamt of having a house by the river. They found this serene piece of riverside land and fell in love with it. But there were a few catches. First, the land was so expensive. Second, how can two families (both Lek and Min are married with two kids) equally share one piece of land? Talks and discussions led to a conclusion: they would build a hotel so both families can reside on the property—and it would also help pay the bills. That was how it all began. Two years later, Amdaeng is now ready to welcome guests.
"We think it is more cool that we should name the hotel in her honor, a Thai who owned the property before our time. It can also trigger the younger generation in acknowledging what Amdaeng really means."
Expect no less than amazing when two people from the advertising industry build a hotel. Amdaeng is no exception. “Creatively Thai” is the main theme of this ten-room hotel. An exclusively-mixed red, similar to cinnabar—the lip color preferred by ancient Thai women—was selected as the hotel’s signature shade. The color was also chosen as a playful reference to the word daeng, which means “red” in Thai. Amdaeng Klee lived during the reign of King Rama V, a time in Thai history best known for an appropriation of all things European into Thai culture. Artistic elements from the era, including Victorian “gingerbread” decorative embellishments that Lek is personally fond of, are seen all throughout the hotel.
Tall, narrow doors lead to a lobby furnished with old-style dark wooden furniture set off by mirrors and gorgeous flower arrangements. Each of the ten guestrooms is unique on its own, featuring predominantly black and white accents, a four-poster bed, a bathtub and a private balcony for taking in views of the river. On top of it all is a guests-only rooftop “grandstand” where you can enjoy elevated views of the River of Kings. “We’d like each of our visitors to be in awe from the very first step inside,” says Lek. “We would like them to recognize the artistic details that differentiate us from chain hotels. And we are sure half of Bangkokians have never seen views of Chao Phraya from where we are.”
"We’d like each of our visitors to be in awe from the very first step inside."
But you don’t need to be a hotel guest to experience all these. Sitting on the ground floor right by the river is the hotel’s only restaurant, NYE (pronounced “nai,” which is a reference to a title that means “mister” in Thai). “I like the views from NYE. Sitting there, watching the river run—it’s pure happiness,” shares Min. NYE serves up fusion-Thai dishes that focus on combining two typical Thai recipes into a new dish—for example, pork knuckle spring rolls and consommé-style tom yam koong.
Amdaeng has been on soft opening for a few months while its owners, who are always aiming for perfection and customer satisfaction, still put in touch-ups where needed. “If Amdaeng were a woman,” imagines Lek, “she would definitely be the charming, sophisticated one that awaits discovery. She might look strong and cold at first glance, but once you got to know her, you would feel her sensual nature.”
More small design hotels in Bangkok
Ten years after it closed down, Prince Rama Theatre has been revived as a hotel called Prince Theatre Heritage Stay. Rebuilt with much respects to its original structure, the hotel has 26 rooms and suites, each decorated with elements that reacquaint guests with the hotel’s origins. The hotel also offers a walking tour that brings visitors to hidden gems around the neighborhood. Check out the cinema-themed bar for drinks inspired by movies previously screened at the theater.
Nestled on the left (and quieter) bank of the Chao Phraya River, near heritage community Lhong 1919, Amdaeng is the brainchild of award-winning advertising executives, Passapol "Lek" Limpisirisan and Wiboon "Min" Leepakpreeda. The eye-catching cinnabar-red boutique hotel houses ten guestrooms, and a restaurant and bar called NYE. Hotel guests are also entitled to exclusive access to the hotel’s rooftop bar.
The charming house King Vajiravudh granted to his beloved royal governess stands on a piece of land that is now home to Raweekanlaya, the latest boutique hotel operated by the TCC Group. Raweekanlaya still offers a tranquil hideaway setting with a leafy courtyard and glorious landscaping surrounding a picturesque swimming pool. The hotel’s design glorifies the good old days of the modern Rattanakosin era. Two separate wings house six types of rooms, each similarly decked with colonial details such as white wooden interiors and floral-patterned bric-a-brac.
64-172, Krung Kasem Road, Bang Khun Phrom, 0 2628 5999
Theatre Residence sits on the grounds once occupied by the former Patravadi Theatre—and before that, the residences of royal artists. The hotel sits on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River in one of the oldest residential communities in Bangkok and within a neighborhood that is known for its amazing street food.
Hidden from the bustle and chaos of the main Phaholyothin stretch, this hidden gem offers guests a peaceful home away from home in stylishly converted Thai-style wooden houses. Airtel (its name is a play between “Airbnb” and “hotel”) incorporates the friendly and no-frills vibe of Airbnb accommodations while retaining the five-star service offered by luxury hotels. The common area also functions as a co-working space and a dining room. Airtel is also pet-friendly. Your stay promises to be paw-fectly memorable thanks to uber-cute Airy and Sparky, the owner’s Japanese Spitz and Labrador.
38 Supharat Soi 1, Phaholyothin 8, Phya Thai, 09 3571 0880. BTS Ari
Ba Hao, the new Oriental-themed bar in Charoenkrung that serves snacks and booze inspired by Chinese street eats, also functions as a boutique hotel. Its upper three floors offer accommodations that veer away from the Chinese concept. Two spacious rooms, also designed by hip design firm Integrated Field, strike the balance between retro charm and modern chic, and feature gigantic mirrors and terraces that look over Soi Nana.
8 Soi Nana, Charoenkrung. MRT Hualumpong. 08 1454 4959
Modena looks to please budget travelers who are not so fussy about frills but would rather not compromise on service quality and amenities. Located within walking distance from the Queen Sirikit Convention Center MRT and Klong Toei Market, the hotel catches the eye with contemporary, urban chic decor injected with pop art depicting Thai motifs (we’re talking tuk-tuks, old-school baskets and all that jazz). Ask for a room with a balcony that looks out to Sukhumvit’s skyscrapers.
2527 Rama 4 Road, Khlong Toei, 0 2033 0888. MRT Queen Sirikit Convention Center
Oozing hidden charm, its location by the Bangkok Noi canal is the main highlight at this new boutique hotel. Renovated from an antique house, Chann offers a selection of superior, deluxe and exclusive suites, the designs of which nail the balance between retro charm and contemporary chic. Most rooms include a private terrace for watching the procession of boats slowly making their way through the canals.
30/1 Somdet Phra Pinklao Road, Bangkok Noi, 0 2435 5997
K Maison Boutique Hotel exudes sheer elegance starting from the lobby. The design throughout is vintage-inspired, with three types of room decked out with earth-toned walls, classy furniture and marble bathroom fittings. Opposite is the hotel-owned café, which is popular among locals for brunch, not to mention its photogenic all-white setting.
116/17-21 Rangnam Road, Phya Thai, 0 2245 1953. BTS Victory Monument
Have you ever wondered how it would be to sleep in a Shakespeare-style setting or in surroundings inspired by your favorite Broadway musical? This cool boutique hotel, nestled among the capital’s dining heavyweights in the middle of Thonglor, boasts four themed rooms each one themed around a famous musical including Romeo & Juliet, Mary Poppins, Aladdin and the Thai period drama The Four Reigns.
205/22-23, Thonglor soi 9, Sukhumvit 55, Sukhumvit, 0 2712 5747. BTS Thonglor.
Praised as one of the most romantic hotels in Bangkok, Hotel Once is popular for its photogenic classic black-and-white décor. Perched on the top floor is Top Knot, a rooftop restaurant serving East-meets-West grub with stunning views of the Chao Phraya River.
2074/99 Soi Charoenkrung, Charoenkrung, 02 688 2596
You are in Chinatown after all so why not stay in a hotel that feels like it? Head to Shanghai Mansion, a boutique hotel in Yaowarat that transports you to the Paris of the East during the 1930s. Refurbished from an old Chinese theater, the sexy venue is filled with delightful Oriental details, vibrant colors and opulent furniture.
479-481 Yaowarat Road, Yaowarat, 0 2221 2121. MRT Hua Lumpong