These beautiful heritage hotels are the best way to experience Bangkok

  • Praya Palazzo Bangkok

    Heritage hotels are on the rise

    With a constant changing face and focus on modernization, the developer's sword has generally not been kind to many of Bangkok's old historic buildings. They cost a lot to maintain, and many beautiful old homes or buildings have been razed and replaced by shopping malls or new condominium developments. However, all is not lost, as several committed owners or aficionados of classic architecture have converted a range of historic properties into flashpacker digs and heritage stays.

    Photo courtesy of Dave Stamboulis

  • Prince Theatre Heritage Stay

    Prince Theatre Heritage Stay

    Over on bustling Charoenkrung Road, home to some of Bangkok's top street eats and decades' old shophouses, the former Prince Theatre Heritage Stay has had a long and illustrious history. The building originally opened in 1912 as a casino and Chinese opera house, but the authorities shut it down after banning gambling. The venue then relaunched as a popular black and white and silent picture house. Hollywood films became the rage later on, and the Prince had its heyday in the late 1970s, but eventually the advent of multiplex cinemas forced the theatre to go out of business. Hidden down a small lane though, the Prince didn't quit, and it started up again as a porn film establishment. However, with the arrival of the internet and videos, the business once again plummeted and the theatre was then closed and abandoned.

    Photo courtesy of Dave Stamboulis

  • Interior of Prince Theatre Heritage Stay

    The theatre still operates

    The former Art Deco-styled building fell to ruins, but the Montara Management Group, which also owns the historic Praya Palazzo, got a ten-year lease from the Treasury Department, and permission to restore the building as a heritage hotel. The outside facade is still intact, and the original movie screen now shows black and white movies each evening. The original Art Deco stained glass window inside has also been preserved, as has the theatre's original sign.

    Photo courtesy of Dave Stamboulis

  • Master Suite, Prince Theatre Heritage Stay

    History is kept alive

    One of the Master Suites is housed in the former cinema manager's quarters, and the various rooms are themed around the Prince's history, ranging from a suite full of garish old x-flick posters to a duplex styled with Chinese opera elements. 

    Photo courtesy of Dave Stamboulis

  • Memorabilia, Prince Theatre Heritage Stay

    Memorabilia throughout the space

    There are old movie posters throughout the hallways and foyer, and the Box Office bar downstairs even features a menu of signature cocktails with film-centric names like Rosemary's Baby and Romeo and Juliet.

    Photo courtesy of Dave Stamboulis

  • Exterior of the Bangkok Publishing Residence

    Bangkok Publishing Residence

    Housed in an old printing factory just down the road from the Golden Mount and Bangkok's charming Old City, the Bangkok Publishing Residence takes one back to the "age of the page." Owner Panida "Oum" Tosnaitada has turned her family's former publishing factory that was home to the Bangkok Weekly magazine into an elegant boutique hotel. The large industrial building that the hotel is housed in started off as a row of shophouses in the 1950s, and it showcases Tosnaitada's family history. In fact, it's as much a living museum as it is a luxury stay.

    Photo courtesy of Dave Stamboulis

  • Suite, Bangkok Publishing Residence

    Printing and publishing are at the forefront

    The interior of the old publishing house places elegant hardwood floors and antique furniture alongside industrial chic touches. Iron catwalks flank the atrium-like design and take one past relics of the old factory, from pre-digital printing plates to vintage typewriters. Even the giant spools of the original paper that was used to make magazines and books is present, now a bit stained and hardened by time.

    Photo courtesy of Dave Stamboulis

  • Bangkok Publishing Residence interior

    Pleasures of the past meet modern conveniences

    Up on the roof, there is a garden where they grow organic fruit and vegetables (served for breakfast), an open-air Jacuzzi tub to soak in, and even a library full of arthouse film DVDs, as well as a classic pinball machine. While everything here tries to get you back to the days of paper and ink (even the bathroom toiletries are packaged to look like a bookcase), there are still modern conveniences like Nespresso machines and Wi-Fi.

    Photo courtesy of Dave Stamboulis

  • Old printing plates, Bangkok Publishing Residence

    The last of historic Bangkok

    The hotel is a labor of love, and obviously an ode to both history and family. It fits perfectly into the neighborhood, one of Bangkok's last bastions of the past, and one of the city's only spots without glitzy malls or high rises. Instead, you'll find shophouse eateries that have been selling one-dish meals for decades, as well as Bangkok's only Michelin-starred street food vendor, Jay Fai, which is just down the road.

    Photo courtesy of Dave Stamboulis

  • Baan 2459

    Baan 2459

    Over in Chinatown, an elegant 1916 home that was owned by a well-to-do family in the Muslim community had spent the more recent past as a warehouse for Suksan Aueareechon and his export-import shoe business. Aueareechon thought the old warehouse deserved far better, and he had a dream to restore it and make a small boutique stay. Friends discouraged him from entering a business he had no background in, but he laughed them off, saying that if nobody came, he could always live in the place himself. He carried out a non-stop half-year renovation that resulted in a gorgeous heritage home, Baan 2459, full of fine wood, poster beds, period chandeliers and stylish angles at every turn.

    Photo courtesy of Dave Stamboulis

  • Elegant interior, Baan 2459

    Original and recreated materials keep it authentic

    The name Baan 2459 is the Thai calendar equivalent for 1916, the year the house was originally built, and each of the four rooms are given one of these numbers as well. The restoration project here attempted to keep or recreate the windows, shutters and staircases exactly as they were, and one of the rooms even features the original lime-written ceiling from the house of 1916.

    Photo courtesy of Dave Stamboulis

  • Coffee shop, Baan 2459

    Gorgeous coffee shop included

    Behind the house was a longstanding exposed brick wall, and Aueareechon decided to turn this into a coffee shop, again not listening to those who said putting a cafe where it couldn't be seen wouldn't work. He built a glass house around the brick, and serves up some of Bangkok's best gourmet beans, attracting plenty of folks who aren't lucky enough to get a space in one of the four guest rooms.

    Photo courtesy of Dave Stamboulis

  • Praya Palazzo through its front gate

    Praya Palazzo

    On the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya River sits a princely classical mansion that was built in Palladian style in 1923 for a Thai-Chinese nobleman who handled Far East affairs for the king. After roads replaced rivers as the main form of Bangkok transport in the mid-1940s, the nobleman and his family moved out and the building was turned into a school for the local Muslim community. This later closed down, and after a stint as a vocational school, the building was abandoned and left to ruin.

    Photo courtesy of Dave Stamboulis

  • The dining room at Praya Palazzo

    Try a royal recipe

    Fortunately, a Thai professor and architect who lived across the river became interested in the fate of the stately old home, and he and his wife helped to restore it, and launch it into its present incarnation as Praya Palazzo, one of the city's most elegant heritage buildings and resorts. The hotel has 17 rooms furnished with handmade antiques, and the vintage dining room serves up fine Thai cuisine comprised of recipes handed down by the Royal Palace throughout the ages.

    Photo courtesy of Dave Stamboulis

  • Classical architecture at Praya Palazzo

    Fine examples of classical architecture

    These heritage hotels are leading a cutting edge revival in Bangkok, offering discerning visitors a chance to check out the Bangkok of old while being firmly entrenched in the present. They also give connection to the old communities that still surround the properties, trying to connect them and bring them into the fold as opposed to tearing them down, thus preserving Bangkok's legacy and creative architecture.

    Photo courtesy of Dave Stamboulis