Is Chakrabongse Villas the best riverfront Bangkok hotel? It’s intimate. It’s exclusive. And it overlooks the River of Kings, with a gorgeous view of the Temple of Dawn across from the legendary waterway. Most importantly, the gorgeous boutique hotel is within walking distance of the Grand Palace, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, and other important cultural and heritage sites.
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His Royal Highness King Chulalongkorn of Siam (1868 – 1910) had dozens of children. And HRH Prince Chula Chakrabongse (1908 – 1963) was one of his favrourites.
Because the prince wanted a quiet retreat away from the Grand Palace, a lovely villa was built along the shores of the River of Kings, a.k.a. the Chao Phraya. According to an architectural expert, the villa (pictured above) is in the Victorian Stick style.
Apparently, the prince also used the villa as a place to get changed when attending ceremonies at the Grand Palace.
After the prince died, the property was passed on to his descendants. And his granddaughter, Narisa Chakrabongse, is the current owner.
While the villa itself remains a private residence, it sits amid beautifully landscaped gardens. There are several other structures in various architectural styles. And it operates as an exclusive boutique hotel, with just four suites, three rooms, an exclusive fine-dining restaurant, and a casual café.
Most importantly, this is where I spent the first two nights of my four-month Thai adventure.
My Warm Welcome
As a small boutique hotel, Chakrabongse Villa had a small office rather than a proper lobby. And this is where I met the warm and welcoming staff.
After checking in, I was escorted through beautifully landscaped gardens to my suite. Or should I say villa? Talk about walking in the footsteps of royalty!
Along the way, I passed an array of exotic plants, whose names I do not know.
Included were these beautiful purple flowers, which appeared to be suspended from the branches of trees.
Scattered amid the tropical flora was the occasional artefact, such as this gorgeous ceramic urn.
A highlight was strolling through this beautiful flower-covered walkway, which was like an extended arbor.
I would have loved to take a refreshing dip in this beautiful swimming pool. Unfortunately, I was too busy exploring the fascinating neighborhood surrounding the hotel and didn’t have the chance.
As I was to discover, some of Bangkok’s most important cultural and heritage sites were within a short walk or tuk-tuk ride from the hotel.
A boutique hotel in the truest sense of the word, Chakrabongse Villas & Residence has just four suites and three rooms.
The Chinese Suite has two stories and two bedrooms. And it offers views of the gardens overlooking the swimming pool. As the name implies, it is decorated with Chinese artifacts.
The Thai House Suite is a 19th century stilt house built entirely of teak. And it overlooks the gardens. It was originally located in Ayutthaya, which has been called the Venice of the East. In fact, Ayutthaya was once the capital of Siam, as Thailand used to be known.
As the name suggests, the Garden View Suite has direct access to a gorgeous tropical garden. And it is furnished with fine Kompastr Thai fabrics.
Not surprisingly, the River View Suite is situated at the front of the property. And it has views of the River of Kings (Chao Phraya).
As for the three rooms, they all feature a Moroccan theme. Perfect for a travel blogger like me, they each have a comfortable writing desk as well as modern bathrooms with showers.
Would I be spending the first two nights of my extended Thai adventure in one of them? Without doubt, that was my assumption!
My Sumptuous Villa
I was in for a big surprise upon my arrival at Chakrabongse Villas Bangkok! I hadn’t been assigned to one of the Moroccan-themed rooms after all.
In fact, I was going to be luxuriating in the property’s signature suite, the River View Suite, with its extensive outdoor terrace and sweeping views of the River of Kings (Chao Phraya)!
My Designer Interior Spaces
The bedroom of the River View Suite at Chakrabongse Villas had a comfortable king-size bed, which featured a bedspread and pillowcases made with Jim Thompson fabrics.
And in case you didn’t know, Jim Thompson was the legendary American who has been credited with practically single-handedly reviving Thailand’s silk industry.
Mysteriously, Thompson disappeared in the jungles of Southeast Asia. And his remains were never found.
For more on Jim Thompson, check out this fascinating book: Jim Thompson, the Unsolved Mystery. #AD
The Studio of the River View Suite at Chakrabongse Villas was beautifully decorated with Thai artifacts. And the gorgeous antique desk served as my comfortable workstation during my stay at the exclusive riverfront boutique hotel.
The Sitting Room of the River View Suite featured a lovely settee with pillows covered in Jim Thompson silk fabric. And I loved the dramatic flame-inspired mirror hanging on the wall above the settee.
The bathroom of the River View Suite at Chakrabongse Villas Hotel was the suite’s only contemporary space. Clad in white marble, it had both a circular jacuzzi bathtub and a walk-in shower.
My Spacious Outdoor Terrace
As impressive as the designer interior spaces of my suite at Chakrabongse Villas were, I was blown away by the spaciousness of the outdoor terrace. And talk about an amazing view!
Just outside my bedroom was this comfortable day bed. Should I take an afternoon snooze?
These lounge chairs offered breathtaking views of the River of Kings (Chao Phraya). Is that the Temple of Dawn, a.k.a. Wat Arun, in the distance?
The table and chairs outside the sitting room of my villa offered a perfect spot to go on line or enjoy afternoon tea.
My Mouthwatering Breakfasts
My breakfast at Chakrabongse Villas was served both mornings at this lovely outdoor sala, which was a just a few steps from my suite. And talk about a beautiful view, which served as a stunning backdrop to my mouthwatering morning meals!
Breakfasts were cooked to order. And there were two choices: Thai and Western.
On my first morning, I ordered the Thai breakfast. In addition to the rice soup, there was a selection of fresh fruits, fruit juice, and coffee or tea.
If you’re not familiar with Thai cookery, rice soup – which is similar to Chinese congee – is a popular breakfast staple in Thailand. And I can understand why! It was absolutely delicious!
There was a choice of chicken, pork, and prawns. And it came with four typical Thai condiments to liven things up.
On my second morning, I tried the Western breakfast. which included eggs any style, a choice of breakfast meats, fried potatoes, toast, pastries, fruit juice, fresh fruits. and coffee or tea.
Have I forgotten anything?
I must say, it was absolutely delicious! But I confess. I was a bit selfish and asked if I could have another bowl of the mouth-watering rice soup I had enjoyed the day before.
No need for lunch!!!
After checking into Chakrabongse Villas, I took a shower and unpacked. Then I set out to explore the neighborhood, which is located on Rattanakosin Island in Bangkok’s historic Phra Nakhon district.
Little did I know beforehand that some of Bangkok’s most significant tourist attractions were located in this part of town. But I was soon to find out!
Temple of the Reclining Buddha
For example, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, a.k.a. Wat Pho, was a five-minute walk from the front gate of Chakrabongse Villas.
To be honest, I stumbled across the temple grounds by accident! As I approached the entrance, a street vendor tried to get me to purchase elephant pants to cover my legs. But the security guard assured me it wasn’t necessary.
Was it because my knees were covered? That’s what I was told later.
The Temple of the Reclining Buddha is actually a temple complex, with dozens of temples and shrines scattered about the grounds.
Moreover, there is a school of medicine and a school of Thai massage. In fact, you can have a traditional Thai massage at the school!
If only I had known, I would have had one!
The Temple of the Reclining Buddha comes in first on a list of Thailand’s highest grade of royal temples. And apparently, there are only six.
In fact, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha has the largest collection of Buddhist images in the Land of Smiles. And the most important is the 46-metre-long statue of the Reclining Buddha.
A visit to the Temple of the Reclining Buddha would not be complete without taking a selfie in front of the massive gilt statue. But it was easier said than done.
Not only is the statue incredibly long. In addition, columns supporting the roof interfere with the view.
As I struggled with my mobile phone, a family of Filipino tourists – next in line – came to my rescue.
“Sir, would you like us to take a picture for you?” one of them asked.
Talk about the kindness of strangers!
As a heritage buff, I was thrilled to stumble across numerous beautifully restored shophouses lining the streets in this part of town. No wonder many people refer to it as Old Bangkok!
Many of the shophouses sold housewares, herbal medicines, dried and fresh foods, clothes, and other items targeted primarily at locals.
And other heritage structures sold souvenirs, T-shirts, elephant pants, and other items catering mostly to tourists.
There were also countless venders selling snacks, fruit, and drinks. You will not go hungry or thirsty in this part of town!
Where Is My Mobile Phone?
It was a suffocatingly hot afternoon. So I needed to find a spot to cool off. And I found refuge in an outlet of Golden Place, a retail chain selling products from various royal initiatives.
After ordering a Thai style iced tea, I went upstairs, which was a comfortable spot to unwind. However, instead of winding down, I had a near meltdown.
Where was my mobile phone?
I wanted to take some photos. But when I checked my pockets and my bag, my newly purchased Samsung S23 was nowhere to be found. Where could it be?
I mentally retraced my steps, trying to remember when and where I had used it last.
Did I leave it on a bench at the Temple of the Reclining Buddha? Did I drop it as I ambled down Maharaj Road?
After about 10 frantic minutes, I finally remembered taking a picture of the building I was sitting in before entering it.
“It’s got to be inside,” I realized. I went downstairs. And it was waiting for my at the cashier’s counter.
What a relief!!!
I passed more shophouses and venders on my way back to Chakrabongse Villas. There were lots of souvenir shops and all manner of food and beverage outlets. The Heycom Thai Dessert Bar caught my eye.
I went into the charming dessert bar. And I ordered a mango smoothie. OMG! It was absolutely delicious!
Where to Eat
I had plans for lunch and dinner on the day after my arrival. But my first night was free. So I asked the manager of Chakrabongse Villas if she could recommended a place for dinner. And she asked if I liked beef.
When I said I liked beef, the manager recommended a place called Medium Rare Tatien. As it turned out, it was directly across the street from the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.
Click here to read my first-hand review: Medium Rare Tatien>> COMING!
Supanniga Eating Room
I had lunch the following day at the Supanigga Eating Room, which was a leisurely walk from Chakrabongse Villas.
Click here to read my first-hand review: Supanniga Eating Room>>
Chakrabongse Villas Dining Pavilion
I enjoyed a sumptuous Royal Thai Cuisine dinner on my second night at the hotel’s exclusive fine-dining restaurant, Riverside Dining Pavilion.
Click here to read my first-hand review: Chakrabongse Riverside Restaurant Bangkok>>
Chakrabongse Villas – 396 Maharaj Road, Tatien, Bangkok, Thailand.
The hotel is located along the banks of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok’s Old Town. Many of the Thai capital’s most important tourist attractions are within a short walk or tuk-tuk ride from the hotel.
Chakrabongse Villas Thailand was a pretty tough act to follow! I mean, how often do you get to walk in the footsteps of royalty? Was the rest of my trip going to be downhill?
My suite was gorgeous. It was set in beautiful gardens. And the view of the river was superb.
As for the location, it was the perfect launchpad for exploring one of Bangkok’s most interesting districts.
Meanwhile, the staff were warm and friendly. In fact, they treated me more like a long-lost friend than a visiting travel writer.
If only I could have spent a few more days there! I would love to have explored more of the nearby cultural and heritage sites. And there appeared to be numerous restaurants and cafes I would love to have tried.
I give Chakrabongse Villas an enthusiastic two thumbs up!
My stay at Chakrabongse VIllas Bangkok was sponsored by Secret Retreats, which is a collection of unique properties and experiences – including boutique hotels, villas, cruises, restaurants, and exclusive itineraries – throughout Asia. It is a community built by independent owners and chefs to share resources and ideas.
Together, they offer guests authentic travel experiences that go beyond typical offerings to connect to the very heart of Asian culture and traditions. Secret Retreats Members are vibrant advocates of their surroundings and passionate about sharing special moments with travelers curious to discover the “essence of Asia”.
All properties and experiences also emphasize supporting local communities, environments and sustainability efforts in which they are based to ensure continued opportunities for both locals and travelers for years to come. Learn more here: Secret Retreats.