“Set right on the river are 4 exclusive suites tucked in the verdant grounds of a royal residence, plus 3 simpler rooms for those with a tighter budget”
At the end of the garden are 4 adjacent but independent suites housed in Thai-style cottages (one is more of a Chinese-style villa), while in an annexe attached to the main house sit 3 small but cosy rooms.
We stayed in the Thai House during our 2014 revisit, an old wooden building with beautiful carved arches, whose home was once Ayutthaya before it was dismantled, transported and reassembled here, piece by piece. It overlooks the pond, and is the perfect love nest thanks to its secluded location, veranda with mosquito net-covered daybed - allowing you to fall asleep under the stars - and huge terrazzo tub in the bathroom (big enough for 2). This is the only suite which lacks a kitchenette.
However, we think couples should pay a little more for the impossibly romantic River View Suite, which is the pick of the bunch thanks to its incredible views of Bangkok’s busy Chao Phraya river. From the garden, wooden stairs lead up to a glorious veranda that stretches to the water’s edge, making you monarch of all you survey. We thought this house felt private, spacious, and distinctly exotic.
The ground-level Garden Suite is a cosy, modern apartment that backs onto the communal kitchen. It's convenient and can fit an extra bed or cot, though it’s less exotic than the others. This suite, though, boasts the most functional kitchen.
The Chinese Suite is a 2-bedroom house with a generous, glassed-in living room, and a private veranda leading to the communal pool (via a gate), making it ideal for families. Chinese touches include antique lacquered cabinets, carved screens and (in the master bedroom) a sumptuous Chinese four-poster bed.
In an annexe attached to the palace building are 3 smaller Double Rooms, named Mali, Fueng Fa and Chaba. These are far more sedate in size and charm, and lack the incredible history of the garden suites, but they do still have a splash of character in the shape of old Moroccan doors or Indian beds brought back from the owner's travels. On the upside, they are much more affordable, and you can always choose to unwind in the gardens instead of in your room!
A simple but delicious breakfast is served up overlooking the river when you emerge to greet the day. You’re asked to specify what time it’ll be the night before, but our jetlagged midday start did not seem to trouble the staff at all. During our first visit, we opted for the divinely succulent whole mango, buttery toast and Bonne Maman jams, eye-wateringly fresh orange juice and a pretty ceramic pot of tea which appeared as if by magic on the raised sit-out of the riverside pavilion. More recently, we tucked into a real British fry up - eggs any way, crispy bacon and real sausages. Of course, there’s also a more traditional Thai menu on offer, too.
Lunch and dinner (be sure to book in advance) consists of a daily changing, fixed menu of Thai dishes that were developed from the Royal Family’s own recipes. (Note that the restaurant is closed on a Monday.) In a city full of outstanding food, our evening meal still managed to shine above the rest: a mind-blowing Penang curry, deep-fried soft-shell crab, and a selection of vegetable dishes - all really imaginative and presented with flare. For the quality and setting, dinner was is a real bargain, and it all feels hopelessly romantic having just a few private tables set up overlooking the river, with Wat Arun lit up in the background.
If you feel like treating yourselves by having a completely secluded meal, book the gastronomic experience where the chef and dining terrace is yours for the evening (they’ll need at least 24 hours’ notice). Three of the suites (Garden, Chinese and River View) have a basic kitchenette for preparing light meals and snacks.
If you can tear yourself away from this oasis of calm, just outside the residence is a simple Thai restaurant called Coconut Palm which is handy for lunch or a light dinner. Further afield (10-15 minutes’ walk or a short taxi ride) is Phra Athit Road, where Hemlock and Roti Mataba come recommended for, respectively, their exotic Thai dishes and their stuffed or curried rotis.
Children are welcome at Chakrabongse Villas, and it’s well suited for families with kids of any age as the gardens are peaceful and safe. Plus the majority of the suites have kitchenettes, allowing (basic) self-catering. Under 12s stay free of charge.
Parents with 1 child should book the River View Suite or the Garden View Suite, both of which can fit an extra bed or a baby cot. Larger families will like the spacious Chinese Suite which has 2 double bedrooms and can fit an additional bed or baby cot. The Chinese Suite also has a private gated terrace area and has direct access to the pool, and as all the other rooms are set back, it can feel as if the room has the pool to itself and parents can keep an eye on the kids from the terrace.
Babysitting can be arranged.
Baby cots and bedding are available on request.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Three of the suites have small kitchens, and you're within walking distance of numerous restaurants and shops selling food. For a touch of luxury, you can book the house chef. The in-house restaurant is geared to couples in the evenings so families would probably feel more comfortable eating elsewhere.
The pool isn't fenced. There's a mall 15 minutes away where you can buy nappies, baby food, toys etc.