By The Nation
HOUSED IN A 126-year-old colonial-style mansion, the House on Sathorn truly puts the “sumptuous” back into fine dining with its opulent decor and the juxtaposing of old and new.
Brimming with neo-classical architecture, the “house” – actually four majestic buildings that now function as a multi-venue entertainment complex – underwent a lengthy renovation that only served to whet expectations of what interior treasures it might hold. The anticipation does not go unrewarded.
You discover startling versatility in a single destination, a pleasure palace with a restaurant called simply the Dining Room, a lounge for after-work drinks just as succinctly dubbed the Bar, the Courtyard for dining al fresco (including afternoon tea), and the Upstairs, a club lounge with music provided by DJs as well as professional instrumentalists.
There are also four hospitality suites and private function rooms for dinners, meetings and other closed events.
The House on Sathorn was indeed a private residence to start with, before becoming a hotel – and then the Russian embassy!
Beginning in 1889, this was the home of Chai Sua Yom, the wealthy businessman who engineered the digging of the Sathorn Canal (most of it long since hidden beneath the median separating the road’s sprawling pavements). King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) rewarded the Chinese immigrant for his efforts with the appellation Luang Sathorn Rajayutka, and the canal and flanking roadways were named in his honour.
In the early 1920s the compound was converted into the plush Hotel Royal, and from 1948 to 1999 it was the embassy of first the Soviet Union and then the Russian Federation. What stories its walls might share if they could only speak.
The current owners, also proprietors of the W Bangkok next door, have worked hard to retain or restore the Gilded Age opulence of the interior while adding modern elements – contemporary Thai tapestries, paintings, photographs and sculpture – to inject modern vibrancy into the Old World glamour.
“We are thrilled with the debut of the House on Sathorn, a house whose colourful appearance is matched by its indisputable legacy,” declares Tina Liu, general manager of the W Bangkok. “The House has been re-imagined as a sensory-rich, multi-venue complex, offering artisanal, Asian-inspired cuisine, creative cocktails and spectacular restored artwork – all infused with a buzzing, energised vibe.”
In fact the government’s Fine Arts Department was directly involved in the refurbishing, with conservation its leading principle. Despite major renovations to the four buildings and courtyard, the main original structure remains intact.
So too, inside, do the original intricate wooden staircases and even the Rajayutka family’s personalised fresco motifs, all meticulously restored by the Fine Arts craftspeople, guided by New York design firm AvroKO.
Food and drinks, as well as the merriment of the guests, are orchestrated and overseen by the Turkish culinary director, chef Fatih Tutuk, whose distinctive menus are inspired by his extensive travels in Asia and elsewhere. His aim is to “communicate with the guests through the media of flavour, texture and colour – and more than a dash of good humour”.
Given the chef’s globetrotting, guests can expect to be treated to an extraordinary culinary journey in the Dining Room. The famous fish market in Tokyo, for example, provides the back story for a platter of blue-fin tuna called Early Morning at Tsukiji Market, and Thai-style grilled banana becomes a gastronomic treat with Okinawan sugar and liquid nitrogen.
Fatih’s culinary innovativeness extends to the craft cocktails boasting delightful Asian twists at the Bar on the ground level. There is also Champagne, sake, many wines and tempting bites to precede the evening meal. Upstairs, Bangkok’s movers and shakers mix and mingle in an upbeat, energetic |party vibe with DJs and the occasional live band.
The House on Sathorn is next to the W Bangkok at the intersection of Sathorn and Narathiwas roads and open daily from noon to midnight.
For details and |reservations, |call (02) 344 4000 or go to www.TheHouseOn Sathorn.com.