Time and budget allowing, it’s not hard to find a Chao Phraya riverside hotel in Bangkok for a night’s stay. What’s harder is to find a place rich with art and an atmosphere that makes you feel at home while taking you back in time to an earlier age in the river’s history.
This 10-room contemporary hotel with a taste of “Thainess” stands on 100 square meters in a tiny alley just off Chiang Mai Street, in the same neighborhood as the fascinating tourist destination Lhong 1919. “Amdaeng,” the hotel’s name, belonged to a fabled woman from the past and was suggested by the “Amdaengkhlee” on a former owner’s land deed from the Rama V era.
All the main architectural elements inside and out are painted vermilion: posts, beams, floors, walls, ceilings, so that looking from the other side of the river it stands out clearly from its surroundings. Coming in from the other side you approach the entrance through a maze of alleyways, as the scene gradually opens up to reveal a red building that seems to be composed of separate sculptures joined together to become one grand form in which the architect envisioned people living.
Inside is a restaurant with a quiet calm feeling, lowering the dial on the red, and also more masculine: The feminine “Amdaeng” calls for some male balance, so the restaurant is named “Nye,” meaning “mister” in Thai. The restaurant materials and décor are simple and straightforward but rich with art, bringing to mind the phrase “blue and white,” for the indigo-patterned tile of China favored by Chinese social clubs and found everywhere in old China. Up above is a fabulous roof deck with a sort of “grandstand” for viewing the river rising upwards in tiered circles like the chedi of a Thai temple. In the future this area will be a nighttime bar.
Guest room décor shows a mix of styles reflecting Thai as well as other cultures: Chinese, European, Indian. To recall an earlier era when the dominant cultures were mixing in a formative way, aging techniques are used to alter the look of the glass, the floor tile is dimmed with a charcoal color, antique furniture is used, and remodeling has added beauty and refinement to an atmosphere of bygone days so as to live up to the catchphrase, “The most romantic hotel in Bangkok.”
From time to time, it’s good to leave a hectic lifestyle behind. Escape to the countryside and enjoy life in the slow lane. Priceless! There’s nothing like staying close to nature and being surrounded by mountains and lush paddy fields. Do something you’ve never done before. You can be a part of a local community by getting involved in farm activities.
Collect freshly laid eggs from the chicken coop, pick mushrooms from the nursery, and get vegetables straight from the garden. Even cook your own meals using seasonal ingredients from the community. Or treat yourself to a chicken coop sauna amidst rice fields, a spa idea you never imagine. There are plenty of reasons a farmstay is the perfect experience as you learn to live in a natural environment. Ahsa Farmstay is offering tourists a chance to stay overnight on a working farm. It’s a place to be happy and have fun as you interact with people in the community and learn about their heritage and culture of farming.
From Mueang Chiang Rai, head north towards Doi Mae Salong. About half way there, you come into Mae Chan District. Ahsa Farmstay is located on 85 Rai (33.6 acres) of land surrounded by views of the rolling terrain, fertile grounds and lush plains. The luxuriant vegetation encompassing the farm house makes the atmosphere calm and relaxing. The property owners have spared no effort in making sure visitors are happy physically and mentally as they gain an understanding of local culture and the beauty of traditional Lanna architecture.
Ahsa Farmstay is the work of Creative Crews, an architectural design firm passionate about traditional Lanna architecture. By looking at the northern heritage from a different perspective, they are able to create a home that’s modern in style and functions. This is achieved by reducing design detail and embracing the traditional principles of form and layout. The result is a home that combines privacy, comfort and convenience. Ahsa Farmstay consists of four buildings. The property owners’ home sits at the center of the rectangular floor plan flanked by two-story buildings that provide guest accommodations on the left and right wings. There are four guest rooms in all. A pavilion that’s up front by the entrance provides a place to unwind and relax, and room for activities.
Khun Im, who oversees Ahsa Farmstay, says the design concept is inspired by a desire to be a part of the local community. This is the first phase of an on-going experiment. The farm owners are a family that reside in this community. By living on the property, they are on hand to take care of their guests at all times. Determined to preserve their way of life, they prefer not to travel some distance to work in the city. And that’s what gives rise to the farmstay project.
“We have good relationships with the community and hire local carpenters to build. They are rare these days, but we find some in the neighborhood. For quality assurance, they work under our supervision. The project is built almost entirely of wood recycled from old houses. Our architects take the time to do it right. They go through each and every piece and handpick only the ones that meet specified construction standards,” he said.
An architect on the team added, “Reclaimed wood is the main building material because it can be sourced directly from the community. It comes in handy since some villagers are willing to sell it as reusable material. In the end, it’s about finding new use for old wood and adapting it to serve new purposes. Once the villagers see that we can do it well, they adopt the idea and technique to better suit their construction needs. In the end, it adds up to the continuation of cultural heritage and preservation of traditional Lanna architecture by passing on the skill and knowledge to young people in the community.”
Besides old wood, the team is able to put other recyclable materials to good use. They include concrete roof shingles that are rare nowadays. They are made the old-fashioned way using the pedal powered pottery wheel. Also known as the kick wheel, it’s an ancient manufacturing technique that has been passed on in the local community. To prevent leaks, the roof is covered by two layers of shingles. The weathered concrete look is beautiful. That’s not all. Ahsa Farmstay is also decorated with items of handicraft and furniture sourced directly from the community.
All things considered, the atmosphere is warm and inviting. It gives other families in the neighborhood some idea of how they can offer a form of hospitality and lodging where guests can stay overnight at the home of locals and learn about their culture. It’s an opportunity to play host, cook food and share their lifestyle and culture. Like so, Ahsa Farmstay is planning on providing more guest rooms as demand for cultural tourism increases. And it works both ways. New lodgings will be built by local carpenters, which in turn generates supplemental incomes for the local community. In the big picture, it amounts to promoting a kind of tourism intended to support the conservation of cultural heritage, skill and knowledge in the community.
The designer wraps it up nicely. “It’s important that visitors refrain from causing changes in the community’s way of life. More than anything else, the farmstay provides the opportunity of learning something new about rural culture. Visitors are welcome to join in daily activities of locals. Architecture has a role to play for the betterment of society. The homes built by locals not only promote cultural tourism, but also contribute to efforts at sustainable development in the area.”
By looking at old Lanna architecture from a new perspective, a design team is able to create a home that’s up to date in style and functions. This is achieved by reducing design detail and embracing the traditional principles of form and layout. The result is a home that combines privacy, comfort and convenience.
This story is from Modern Vernacular Homes Special Issue: Happiness Matters. (Available here in Thai and English)
Embracing warmth, comfort, and privacy, a new boutique hotel takes up a row of six former shophouses in Singapore’s historic Chinatown. The beautifully renovated Hotel Mono retains the charm of Southeast Asian styled architecture, while highlighting the distinctive personality of Rococo-era ornamentation.
/// Singapore /// Story: Weena Baramee /// Photography: Hotel Mono
Its Rococo aesthetic is apparent in the lightness of interior design, cozy spaces, and the tall and narrow windows that speak to the French stylistic period. The gentle black and white theme on the exterior seamlessly interweaves with the lifestyles of traditional Singapore and the city’s urban bustle.
A striking new landmark on historic Mosque Street, the 46-room Hotel Mono is an independent hotel catering to the needs of design-conscious travelers. Its statement-making black-and-white facade has been turning heads. The hotel occupies a row of six conservation shophouses, which have been completely transformed in an extensive refurbishment by President Design Award-winning firm Spacedge Designs. Hotel Mono was officially opened in November 2016.
The stylishly chic hotel presents an appealing proposition for discerning travelers – high quality rooms and service standards at very attractive prices. “We want to provide accommodations that are the best value for the money and a five-star service experience,” said GM Glenn Quah.
Besides charm and comfort in every room, guests enjoy better quality beddings, bathroom amenities and more spacious rooms, for prices comparable to the budget accommodations in the same area. Rates at the 46-room Hotel Mono start at just $160 net per night for a Double room, while a Family room sleeping four people costs under $300.
Its bathrooms represent the conceptualization of a hip retreat for design-savvy travelers (and locals) – guests who appreciate the originality of design. A bold and contemporary design language is relevant throughout the hotel. Every room features a seamless integration of metal bars that traverse the space like lines drawn in the air, meantime, functioning as light fixtures, coat hangers and sculptures.
The boutique hotel celebrates the quality of being the only one of its kind. Due to restrictions and particulars in the floor plans of shophouse styled architecture, no two rooms are identical. Their unique characters are manifested in the name that affirms the validity of these bold and original design concepts.
A boutique farm-stay destination in norther Thailand has provided a good example of how a business could involve the community every step of the way. It thrives on showing respect and fitting in with local ways of living. It’s secret: City and local people stand to gain from each other’s presence and coexist in peaceful harmony with nature.
An architect from Bangkok recently started the boutique farm-stay in Mae Rim District, a 15-minute drive from central Chiang Mai. In a unique way he adapted to be in sync with the new environment and still remained very much in vogue. How did they do it? The answer can be found at the wholesome destination called “Chic 39.”
Farm stay owner Jak “Joke” Ladpli said his was an interesting piece of architecture in the middle of a lush landscape. Chic 39 is offering guest accommodation and operating in conjunction with the surrounding community. It thrives on a simple concept — Make the space modern and keep decor local.
“Call it modern local if you will,” said Joke. “As newcomers, we respect the community, its people, and their ways of life. In our hearts we are modern, kind of like a man donning business attire. But such a formal outfit would be out of place here. The contrast would be too obvious. So we chose a modern cube-shaped design, and paired it with materials that represented local values and wisdom.”
“That’s the metaphor defining our design concept. Like a business outfit made of folk fabric known as “Mo Hom,” the hotel building offers textures and finishing touches crafted of materials that are readily available locally. They include bamboo, palm tree trunks, and old-fashioned corrugated sheets.”
The farm stay involves the community in its day-to-day operations. Joke said: “In this area 4-5 villages are actively engaged in flower farming. Having done it for several generations, the growers produce cut flowers for a wide variety of decorations, from shops to hotels to even food. Especially yellow chrysanthemums, they prefer to grow them during winter months.”
At night the weather is cold, and the flower farm is aglow with colorful neon lights. “If you don’t feel like going to bed early, just hang out and enjoy the views,” Joke said, adding, “In fact, the lights are left on for a good reason. Increased exposure to light helps flower stems grow longer before they are harvested the morning after. “If you are an early riser, put on a pair of boots and go help the planters harvest some flowers.”
Take your dream hotels and put them on the best locations, and you’ve got a beautiful enchanting place. Introducing three new boutique hotels you need to visit in Singapore. One of them is a Philippe Starck-designed exclusive hotel located on a quayside that has transformed to become a fashionable urban area.
/// Singapore /// Photography: Sitthisak Namkham, The Warehouse Hotel
– M Social Singapore –
Located on the riverside at Robertson Quay, M Social Singapore is the brainchild of world renowned designer Philippe Starck. Its avant-garde atmosphere in every room and public area is inspired by the Memphis style. Such a perfect blend of textures, bold colors, and luxury accents is aimed at the millennial generation. The hotel’s main target group comprises young adults of the early twenty-first century who have dominated most of the technological world. Taking its concierge role to a new level, a robot butler named “Aura” is on hand to serve you a bottle of drinking water and a towel if you want it delivered to your room. The in-house restaurant Beast & Butterflies is a separate unit from the main lobby. The design provides more privacy for dining away from the heavier traffic of the main area. Stylish decor and alluring lighting ideas make it a perfect place to meet for business or just chitchatting and taking in beautiful river views.
Recommended for: Active business persons, admirers of Starck’s design
An oasis of clam, the hotel beautifully ensconced in central Singapore has earned a reputation as the city’s living sky garden. Not only is it the center of visual interest, the distinctive bright tower with vertical gardens is originally conceived as safe haven for birds. The façade is crafted of aluminum cladding designed to filter light, provide shade, and promote natural air movement, making the boutique hotel a perfect place to wind down from city life outside. The Oasia is admired for sleek interior design and friendly earth tone colors. Apparently, it has become the icon of tropical vertical gardening currently trending across the Region. It’s the brainchild of WOHA Architects, a group specialized in green buildings on large scales.
Recommended for: Business persons who care about hospitality and convenient locations
Built in 1895, the Warehouse Hotel sits on the bank of the Singapore River at Robertson Quay. The beautifully restored heritage building was once upon a time a warehouse in an area that was the hotbed of secret societies, liquor distilleries, and underground activities. Today the former warehouse on the quayside has transformed to became one of the stylishly unique destinations offering the finest experiences in the history and attractions of the community surrounding it.
The renovation project was the idea of the owners, The Lo & Behold Group, and the design firm Asylum. Together they turned the old “godown” into an ultrachic exclusive property showcasing the heritage of the island nation. Drop into the open bar with stunning views and an intimate atmosphere. It’s worth a visit.
Recommended for: Trendy Travelers and creative professionals
Wanting to be close to nature yet still enjoy the comforts of home? Malaysia offers a whole range of rainforest resorts of an almost otherworldly beauty. Hop on the new travel trend of treehouse-inspired retreats! Here are some of the most picturesque destinations to give a try.
– JapaMala Resort / Tioman Island, Pahang –
This boutique resort is one of Tioman Island’s most popular holiday spots. Take a step into an amazing new world of tastefully-designed villas, and it’s easy to see why. Nestled amidst lush rainforest greeneries, JapaMala Resort’s gorgeous villas are made for a truly relaxing vacation getaway.
Enjoy a scenic soak in the open-air bathtub, or take a dip in the picture-perfect pool if you prefer relaxing in the outdoors. For more information on JapaMala Resort, click here.
– Malihom Retreat / Balik Pulau, Penang –
Located in the quieter part of Penang Island, Malihom is home to eight Thai-style granaries that have been converted into fully-equipped accommodation options. Unaffected by the passage of time, the beautifully renovated island resort offers modern comforts in a charming traditional setting. The secluded resort is the perfect place to practice the forgotten art of doing nothing. Gaze at the unbelievable view of the surrounding hills from the rooftop terrace. Or if you have an afternoon nap in mind, get comfortable in one of the rattan hammocks and snooze away.
For more information on Malihom Retreat, click here.
– The Dusun / Seremban, Negeri Sembilan –
A serene eco-resort, the Dusun is home to hilltop bungalows with spectacular views of the surrounding Berembun Forest Reserve. Nature lovers will appreciate the salubrious open-air room, complete with a balcony to reap the health benefits of moderate sun exposure.
Enjoy the cool morning mist before whiling away the day any way you like – whether it’s a spot of yoga in your room, a mid-day dip in the infinity pool, or a barbecue with family and friends.
Perched atop an abandoned marble yard in Nakhon Ratchasima, the boutique hotel affords views of the rocky landscape. The old rock quarry became inactive after the gleaming stones had been extracted. To create a unique and pleasant setting, the owner went to great lengths to ensure every aspect of the surroundings was kept intact. Hard terrain dictated that accommodation units be built strong like rock. That’s what makes the Nhapha Khao Yai Resort look like no other.
Over time nature goes to work, and the old marble yard comes alive turning lackluster cliff faces into a kaleidoscope of colors. Aptly named “Grand Villas Chom Hin Pha,” the guest lodges at the top boast 90 square meters of well-appointed rooms looking out over the pinkish brown rocky landscape.
If you prefer quirky, unusual locations, the “Villas Ping Pha Hin” are definitely your must-visit. The 40-square-meter cube-shaped lodges are placed inside the rock forest. Ingenious design takes advantage of the existing cliff faces, turning rock formations into naturally beautiful walls. The rocky surroundings turn out to be nifty temperature control inside the interior living spaces.
And not to worry about rainwater leaking in during storms. The gaps between natural and built environments are sealed tight while a system of gutters are in place to ensure storm water runoff is drain out fast.
Interior design is at the heart of the boutique hotel on the rock. Every unit showcases handcrafted wood furniture by award-winning designer/carpenter Yutthana Bumrungkit.
To make every visit feel like the first time, each villa is designed to highlight a different ambience and character. Together they turn the unique hotel into a thriving, delightful escape. Everywhere paintings and sculptural masterpieces abound. It’s like walking into a museum and actually living history.
Understandably the owner hopes that his unique hotel will one day turn into an attractive art venue in the Region.
2017 looks to be a great year as more exciting attractions are being added to the Nhapha Khao Yai Resort.
Nandha Hotel is a cycling hotel located in the heart of Bangkok, lodging where lovers of all things vintage can enjoy their holiday surrounded by eclectic décor.
/// Thailand ///
Story: Bundaree Deewong /// Photo: Sungwan Phratep /// Interior Designer: Bangkok Day Group by Kasisin Suwattanaphim
The Nandha is named after the mother of owners Anucha and Bheema Jotikabukkana. These two have strong passions for both cycling and photography, and with a designer’s help, have expressed these favorite pastimes through the hotel’s interior decoration.
Kasisin Suwattanaphim, of Bangkok Day Group, is the designer responsible for this project. He came up with the catchphrase “Sleep-Eat-Ride,” which became the hotel’s main concept.
Above the storefront, the hotel façade features striking light blue wooden latticework with a yellow vintage bicycle hanging above its signature slogan. The latticework also acts to screen out harsh daylight. On the left corner is the loft-style Passion Café,in whose cozy, warm atmosphere guests imbibe coffee and other drinks.
The lobby interior is decorated with old collectibles such as rare bicycles and vintage cameras, making it one of guests’ favorite photo spots. The railing on the stairwell to the rooms is constructed of water piping.
Each floor has its own decorative color assigned to it: pink, blue, green and so on. Room entrances play along with the hotel’s concept, and each room even has its own bicycle bell with room number, for use in calling hotel staff for assistance.
An in-room desk is adapted from a real bicycle. There are clothes hangers made from pedals. The secretive little gimmick-like details are part of what makes this place unique and special.
The hotel offers two types of room: vintage-style with a contemporary feel and classic-style, with a warm wood décor. Additionally, for groups there is a two-storey duplex suite with two bedrooms.
For those looking for a unique experience and heartwarming hospitality, or simply seeking a cycling hotel with a budget price, Nandha hotel not to be missed.
For a traveler, what could be better than a nice hotel in the heart of the city? Pick a hotel with a relaxing atmosphere and good design. If your destination is Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, the Morrissey hip hotel is the one and only right choice to choose.
/// Indonesia /// Story: Wuthikorn Suthiapa /// Photos: Soopakorn Srisakul
Designed for high quality accommodations, the Morrissey features a gorgeous mix of Jakarta’s urban tropical ambience and ultramodern architecture. There is a hint of Industrial Loft design that comes with high ceilings, plenty of wall openings, and abundant natural light. Naked concrete finishes alternating with brick painted white, and dark-colored wood floors provide a welcome contrast between stylishly chic design and natural rawness.
The hotel is conveniently located within walking distance to interesting attractions throughout Jakarta’s CBD. The famed Museum Nasional Indonesia is less than two kilometers away, while the fashionable shopping mall Plaza Indonesia, aka “P.I.” is roughly a kilometer or 7 minutes if you prefer going by train.
If a journey back in time is for you, know that the Old Djakarta Theater, the Jalan Surabaya Antique Market, and the Taman Ismali Marzuki Cultural Center are easily accessible from the Morrissey. It’s a good idea to walk to these great attractions. It only takes about ten minutes. Having been to all of them, we had the most fun exploring the city on foot.
Along the way, take your time to experience the Indonesian versions of street food similar to the ready-to-eat meals ubiquitous throughout Asian. Highly recommended is Nasi goring, the Indonesian version of fried rice. Buy a set from the street vendor and have it cooked to order right on the spot. Another not-to-be-missed dish is Satay, especially Goat Satay. It smells good and tastes like heaven.
In case you have had a long day, the Morrissey offers plenty of cozy spots in which to relax and unwind. The Sky Lobby offers a vantage point to take in panoramic views of Jakarta city skyline. If fitness is for you, go to the swimming pool, or burn calories and build muscle on the treadmill. Take your pick. A full array of gym equipment is available onsite.
The Morrissey reception area is also home to a lobby café. Most outstanding is the architectural design that is strongly influenced by Le Corbusier, the icon of Modernism.
Fueled by tropical inspirations, guest rooms at the Morrissey showcase textured concrete finishes and brickwork in relaxing shades of white. Simple, clean design leaves plenty of room for wall openings. Frameless glass doors and panels allow abundant natural light. Such inspiring Modern Tropical details can be applied to many parts of your home.
Crafted in a plain and simple fashion, the Sekeping Sin Chew Kee is a raw beauty and a way of life in Kuala Lumpur. The rustic chic hotel is part of the Sekeping chain, which is owned by Ng Sek San, of Seksan Design Landscape Architecture and Planning. See beauty in simplicity! Check this out.
Designer : Seksan Design Landscape Architecture and Planning
The hotel is located within a converted “shophouse,” the terms for vernacular architecture commonly seen in KL. The well-kept, two-story reinforced concrete structure has a rooftop deck. The owner/designer, Ng Sek San, took every precaution to avoid increasing building weights. The only add-on is a mezzanine on the second floor. Both the mezzanine and the upper floor are reserved for guest accommodations. The coffee shop sits on the ground floor.
The shophouse-style building has access to the street in front and back. The front entrance features a small garden, enclosed for privacy by a wall of medium height. Inside the hotel, a steel stairway gives access to a lounge with a warm, welcoming atmosphere on the second floor. A bit further inside lies a kitchenette with a bathroom and two guest rooms.
There is another set of stairs that connects the second-floor lounge to the mezzanine and on to rooftop deck. The newly added mezzanine was once an open space. Later, a wood plank ceiling was put in to give the area an elegant touch and turn it to a usable room. Elsewhere, custom plasterworks and exposed brick wall in a circular shape contrast with real wood flooring in shades of white. The newly painted surfaces and simple décor make for easy maintenance and an atmosphere that environmentally friendly.
The choice of contemporary furniture and ornamentation conveys a refreshing change. There is a curious mixture of the traditional and the modern. Steel-frame beds and sofas, comfortable mattresses and cushions blend well with old-fashioned items, ranging from water kettles to wire mesh lounge chairs to antique-style cups and tableware. The most memorable sight is the simple white mosquito nets that unfurl at bedtime.
In remodeling an old building, it’s important to consider structural integrity, which refers to the building’s ability to hold together under a load without breaking or deforming. As the designer puts it, renovation work differs greatly from building anything from scratch. It goes through the various processes of evaluation, demolition, and pounding to make room for new ideas to take shape.
“Our experience here has meant the opportunity to try out new architectural features and interior decorating techniques in order to give the hotel a raw beauty, one that’s rich in rustic appeal. The design is about creating an intentional lack of orderliness and opposites to the ordinary. This is manifested in industrial-style electrical conduits throughout the building. Instead of concealing them behind walls, the conduits, mountings, and hanging lights are installed in ways that are clearly visible and easy to maintain,” explained Mr. Ng. His well thought-out design results in a chic interior that focuses on truth to materials and a style that reflects well on this part of town.