The best Bangkok Old City heritage boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts offer an intimate, personal experience, a quaint taste of the past, and a step back in time, as much as a temporary retreat from the Thai capital’s chaos and traffic gridlock.
It’s fourteen years since our first trip to Thailand and I have to confess that I’ve been missing the quieter, less crowded and less congested capital we became acquainted with back then. On a mid-year trip to cover Bangkok new breed of chefs for a story, I was driven so mad by the traffic jams and chaos of the newer areas of the city where we typically spend time that I was determined on the next trip to get reacquainted with Bangkok’s Old City and restore my fondness for the city. It worked.
Experiencing the best Bangkok Old City heritage boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts was the first part of my plan and I chose our lodgings based on their history and charm and small size, as much as their historic location, with the idea being to focusing our explorations on the neighbourhood around each hotel.
I’ll share more on the best Bangkok Old City neighbourhoods to explore and where to wander, eat and drink and what to see and do in future posts. For now, here are our picks of the best Bangkok Old City heritage boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts we recommend you check into on your next Bangkok trip – all tried and tested.
Best Bangkok Old City Heritage Boutique Hotels and Bed and Breakfasts
Our picks of the best Bangkok Old City heritage boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts, inns, residences, and guesthouses that ooze history and charm in Rattanakosin, Chinatown and Bangrak.
Bangkok Publishing Residence
If I had to name the best of the best Bangkok Old City heritage boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts, it would be Bangkok Publishing Residence for its warmth, atmosphere, and the attention to detail. This beautiful eight-room B&B sprawls across what were six blocks of 1960s shop-houses on Lan Luang Road that served as a printing house and family residence of the publisher of the capital’s legendary Bangkok Weekly magazine. The current owner’s appreciation of publishing of this period, passion for the printed form, and nostalgia for the past, is evidence in the vintage objects on display in cabinets around the property, in the piles of magazines in the lobby and rooms, and in the shelves of books in the rooftop library. A B&B suggests limited facilities and little more than a bedroom and breakfast provided, but to me Bangkok Publishing Residence is more like a boutique hotel with its rooftop garden with jacuzzi, library, museum-like lobby and ‘sun-room’. Then there are the rooms that are really suites – some of the most welcoming and comfortable we’ve experienced in Bangkok, with their polished floorboards, wood panelling, warm lighting and large bathrooms. Also expect: high thread-count bed linen, down pillows, silk robes, complimentary mini-bar, fast free WiFi, Bluetooth speaker, big television and DVDs, and movies and books to borrow from the library. The only fault with the rooms is the lack of double-glazing due to the building’s structure: light sleepers might have a problem with the street noise and will want to make use of the ear plugs provided on the bedside tables. Staff are super helpful with little maps to guide your exploration of the surrounding laidback neighbourhood. (More on that soon.)
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1905 Heritage Corner
The intimate three-room 1905 Heritage Corner is easily another of the best Bangkok Old City heritage boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts. The incredibly quaint and impossibly romantic lodgings lie on a leafy square in the historic neighbourhood of Phra Nakhon. For an area so close to Bangkok’s main attractions – Grand Palace, Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Wat Pho are minutes away – it’s as local as they come with residents who know each-other, an abundance of old-school eateries, and a busy little local market tucked in the backstreets nearby. If the owners invite you on a morning market walk, accept! 1905 Heritage Corner is a passion project for its owners, a young Thai couple who spent several years renovating the historic building, and who also operate one of Bangkok’s oldest social enterprises promoting traditional Thai arts and crafts. Their lovely shop-cum-café and headquarters are around the corner and ideal for a last-minute souvenir shop. That experience means the quality of workmanship and attention to detail is outstanding, from the comfortable beds (possibly Bangkok’s most comfortable) with their high thread count line, down pillows and light-as-a-feather quilt, to the beautiful bathrooms with marble sink, wood panelling, white tiles, and bespoke natural toiletries (choose the lemongrass and basil shower soap, shampoo and lotion). Other thoughtful touches include fresh flowers, plenty of books to borrow on the history and culture of the neighbourhood and city, loads of local recommendations, and generous breakfasts – that include snacks you pick up with the owner at the morning market.
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The owner of Baan 2459, a handsome yellow mansion with just four spacious suites, is a self-confessed coffee addict. That means you’ll often find him preparing a cold-pour at the antique counter in the café in the front garden – a popular spot for guests to snap Instagram shots. That also means that you shouldn’t be surprised if there’s torrential rain as there was one night last week when I stayed (it’s rainy season after all) and he offers to drop you at the train station. The service is that personal at Baan 2459, another of the best Bangkok Old City heritage boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts. The owner is also a collector of antiques, so if you’re lucky to find him there when you stay he’ll happily share the story of a few pieces (including some fine vintage writing desks he had shipped from the Langham, Melbourne), the renovation of this magnificent house, or its romantic history. On the corner of a quiet backstreet and characterful alleyway in Bangkok’s Chinatown, just a block from the foodie heaven that is busy Yaowarat Road, Baan 2459 is not only a beautiful B&B, but its also brilliantly placed for exploring Chinatown and the Chao Phraya riverside. While the street food is tempting, don’t miss the superb Thai breakfasts (I had the excellent congee) in a breezy room upstairs with high-ceilings, balconies, and views of the adjoining pagoda from your breakfast table.
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The best way to arrive at another of the best Bangkok Old City heritage boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts is by long-tail boat from Saphan Taksin Pier to the private pier of Chakranbongse Villas. You’ll feel like royalty. Funny about that. This very special boutique property, set in lush tropical gardens, was built by Prince Chakrabongse in 1908 and his granddaughter Narisa Chakrabongse still lives on site in the beautiful main house. Surrounding her elegant home are lovely traditional teak Thai buildings that house seven different types of lodgings. We stayed in the spacious Chinese Suite, decorated with exquisite antique Chinese furniture, and with two double bedrooms, a living area, private terraces, and direct access to the lovely swimming pool. There’s also a waterfront Riverside Villa with a Thai-style teak apartment with modern facilities, including a kitchenette; a more traditional wooden house on stilts in the Ayutthaya style with a private veranda; and three B&B rooms. Bangkok’s star attractions, including the Grand Palace, are within walking distance, and staff can arrange private guided walks to the lesser-visited royal pagodas with a local expert and a wonderful tour of the Chao Phraya River and klongs (canals) by long-tail boat, which we highly recommend.
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Praya Palazzo is another of the best Bangkok Old City heritage boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts and yet it remains something of a secret. Dating to 1923, when numerous Italian architects, such as Galileo Chini and Carlo Rigoli, were designing sumptuous mansions commissioned by King Rama V, Thai noble Praya Chollabhumipanish had his home built on the western bank of the Chao Phraya River in the popular Italian Palladio style of the times. His wife and ten children lived there happily until the mid 1940s when the main means of transport had well and truly shifted from the water to the road, and they moved to the Sukhumvit area. The building served as a Muslim foundation and two different schools, but had fallen into decay when it was bought by a professor, restored and reopened in 2009, initially as a restaurant called Praya Palazzo. This beautiful 17-room boutique hotel still serves wonderful Thai food, but it’s the high ceilinged rooms with polished wooden floors, furnished with antiques, that really make a stay here special. There’s a gorgeous swimming pool, lush frangipani-filled gardens, and a private boat to ferry you to and from Pier N13, from where you can walk to many of the key sights, including the Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The Chao Phraya Express Boat Service stops here, providing an easy connection to Saphan Thaksin ferry terminal and the BTS Skytrain station.
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We’ll add to these reviews of the best Bangkok Old City heritage boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts as we sample more properties. If you have any recommendations, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.