One of the most iconic hotels in Southeast Asia will soon be no more. The Dusit Thani is a landmark of the Silom area, but it now has a date with the wrecking ball to make way for a new mall and hotel development.
The hotel was founded by Bangkok-born businesswoman Chanut Piyaoui, who brought the modern hotel style to Thailand in the 1940’s. The Dusit Thani was opened in February, 1970 and it was the first five-star hotel in Bangkok.
The hotel was designed by Japanese architect Yozo Shibata in a Thai-Modernist style. This was one of a number of Asian modernist hotels, most of which have since been demolished. There are so few buildings of this style left that it should be classified as a heritage building.
When it was built it stood alone as a landmark that could be seen for miles. The Silom area has since built up and obscured its place on the skyline, though its pointy tower is still easily identifiable.
The hotel is opposite Lumphini park on the corner of Rama IV and Silom Roads. Rama IV gets clogged with traffic at peak hours, and with a traffic flyover in front of the hotel it can become a traffic hell at times.
I’ve always admired the tower but I had never stopped to truly appreciate the building. Once I heard about its impending demolition I knew I had to visit and pay my respects before it’s gone.
The outside looks like it was frozen in time in the sixties. Walking up the driveway I half expected to see Pan Am flight attendants in beehive hairdo’s to walk out. The angled windows, mosaics, and colour scheme all seem to have survived refurbishments over the decades.
With the exterior still so faithful to its 60’s appearance my mind imagined the interior to be as old as the sixties as well. While many of the original fittings remain the hotel has kept up with modern amenities to retain its 5-star rating.
Behind the hotel is a tropical oasis with shady trees and soothing water features. It’s hard to believe that this little slice of paradise is on such a congested traffic intersection.
If any Hollywood location scouts are reading this, you could totally film a Las Vegas pool party set in the sixties here.
Being on a such a prominent corner location next to a BTS and MRT metro interchange, this would be one of the most valuable blocks of land in Bangkok. It’s no surprise that such a huge block of land is being redeveloped. No commercial building is sacred in this city.
With an enormous premium on land value in central Bangkok even the British Embassy couldn’t resist selling out. There were some who were trying to save the embassy, but in the end the land was sold in February, 2017 for 20 billion baht. That’s 600 million USD, or over 450 million pounds.
There is no room for sentiment when there are billions of baht to be made.
The Dusit Thani will close in June, 2018 and a “mixed-use” development will take its place. A new Dusit Thani hotel will be built, with a design that will reflect the iconic current property. That’s what the press release says anyway. The new hotel will open in late 2021, so we shall see.
If you want to be able to say “I stayed at the Dusit Thani”, then you have less than a year to do so.