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Andreas Augustin

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Andreas Augustin


Andrew Williamson

The Oriental Hotel’s historical wing, built by Andersen & Co in 1887. Note the tame crane, an iconic Asian bird, to the right.

The Amazing Tale of Bangkok’s Legendary Hotel

The Oriental Bangkok

A Chronology An arrangement of events in the order of their occurrence, based on the study of historical records.

The fan of The Oriental, the Ramayana fan, dates back to 1810.

Andreas Augustin edition raconteur



The great advantage of a hotel is that it’s a refuge from home life. G B Shaw You Never Can Tell, Act 2



The Authors’ Wing in the Gardens — the oldest part of The Oriental.

1686 Map of the Kingdom of Siam (the old name of Thailand) and its surrounding countries, from the days when HM King Narai Ramathipodi III (1633–1688), the most famous Ayutthayan King, began to establish diplomatic relations with Europe.

These historic maps often told stories. You virtually ‘read’ a map. This one, for example, tells us about a journey of French ships to Siam.


Above the compass rose in the upper left corner is one of three French ships. Another to the west of Java is labeled l’Oiseau, a warship sent by the French king. Its route, under the command of Monsieur le Chevalier de Chaumont, is traced in a dotted line through the Sunda Strait (Selat Sunda) northward through the Gulf of Thailand to the region of present-day Bangkok. In the lower right, above the island of Java, is a depiction of the royal barge of the king of Siam. The map extends from Burma and South China southward, including Indochina, the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, and Java, along with the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Hainan. Interior mountain ranges and some forests are depicted in addition to major rivers and sandbanks. By: Placide de Sainte-Hélène; Engraved by Claude Roussel Published by: Mlle. Du Val, niesse de l’auteur, 1686, Paris.



elcome to Siam, as Thailand was known before, nicknamed the ‘Land of the White Elephant’. White elephants were rare creatures, sporting a patchy light grey skin, red eyes and sometimes even five rather than four toes on each of their feet. They still are sacred animals and it was always considered highly auspicious if one was discovered during the reign of a monarch. The more that were found the better the portents for a successful reign. The elephants were taken in great ceremony to Bangkok where they were placed in the royal stables and pampered for the rest of their lives. * The Thai people are immigrants. They came originally from south-eastern China. In the 10th century AD, they began to migrate southwards and westwards and settled in the region of Indochina. During the 13th century, Sukothai became the first capital of an independent Thai kingdom. It was superseded in the 14th century by a new Thai state with its capital further south at Ayutthaya. For the next 400 years Ayutthaya flourished. * Throughout the Ayutthaya period, Siam remained the region’s dominant power. At its most powerful, its borders extended over much of modernday Laos and Cambodia. Their rulers were forced to pay tribute to Siam. In 1686, King Narai began to establish diplomatic relations with Europe, in particular France. He sent a Royal Siamese Embassy to the Royal Court of HM Louis XIV in France. The colourful embassy caused quite a stir upon its arrival in the French capital.

The Land of the White Elephant

In 1782, the first king of the Chakri dynasty, Rama I, moved the royal city to Bangkok (or Krung Thep in Thai, meaning ‘City of Angels’). The Chakris continued to rule the country to this day, with King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the present monarch, being Rama IX. In the 19th century Europe was beginning to take a renewed interest in Siam. Traders in particular considered Siam a country rich in natural resources. They came seeking sugar, pepper, cardamom, tortoise shells, ivory, ebony and rosewood. * On 18 July 1835, Dr Dan Beach Bradley, an American doctor and Baptist missionary, arrived with his family. Shortly after his arrival, Bradley had to take care of a sickness of Prince Mongkut. From the moment the treatment of Bradley healed Mongkut, he entertained close relations to the Palace – the American Mission was practically situated next door – and supported it by publishing, for example, Siam’s first printed government document in 1839: a proclamation outlawing opium. Five years later, in 1844, Bangkok’s first newspaper was published.
Bradley also published the very useful Bangkok Calendar, each year from 1859 until his death in 1873. It is a detailed account of notable events in the city of Angles.



The ‘Venice of the East’ in 1878 Hundreds of little channels, called ‘klongs’, can be found in this city. The map shows in detail the location of foreign businesses, houses and missions and indicates the mooring places of overseas shipping. The Oriental Hotel has been specially highlighted.


The next major function in 1887 was a banquet in honour of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Throughout the dinner, several bands played splendidly and it was past ten o’clock when the dancing began. Fireworks brightened the sky before midnight, concluding with a royal salute of 101 guns. A congratulatory telegram was sent to Her Majesty informing her that a Jubilee Victoria Ward at the local hospital had been established in her honour. HRH Prince Svasti, the Lord Mayor of Bangkok, remained until after midnight, highly gratified by the hospitality he received.

The oldest guest records date back to January 1888. A Mr N Lazarus, an optician from Calcutta, offered free eye examinations while staying in room 5. His name in the guest book was followed by a certain Mr Knight (a decorator specialising in the re-covering of billiard tables), J Iwi (a precious stones dealer) and R Lambert (a carriage dealer). *

The Oriental Hotel was at her most beautiful. Delighted guests stayed until four o’clock in the morning, when the musicians struck up Rule Britannia. The presence of a Royal Highness made the dinner such a success that expatriates and Siamese society declared the Oriental Hotel the venue to hold important parties. The food and service were superb, the drinks chilled, its unique location by the river, the full moon – what more could one ask for? * In 1887, when horse-drawn trams were introduced along New Road, the hotel’s self-baked Viennoiseries and bread were so popular, that the hotel opened its own bakery shop. Bangkok’s expatriate society sent their servants to the hotel in the early hours of the morning to collect their fresh bread. *

One possible guest of the Oriental Hotel is one of the great riddles of the hotel’s history. On 24 January 1888, Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, born in December 1857 in Poland and soon (and better) known as Joseph Conrad, arrived in Bangkok to take over command of a ship, the Otago. The previous captain had died at sea. We have almost no records about what really happened during that time. Even Norman Sherry, the author of ‘Conrad’s Eastern World’, offers a variety of opportunities, all based on considerations rather than on facts. It is absolutely possible that Conrad actually stayed at the Oriental Hotel. There were only two hotels at that time, the other – the Union Hotel – was a smaller and less elegant venue. While in Bangkok, overseeing the reloading of the ship, trying to recruit a new cook and a new steward (the old one had died of cholera), we are save to assume that he had seen the Oriental Hotel. However, various aspects hint at the Oriental Hotel. ‘In his Victory,’ wrote Sherry, ‘much is made of the ladies’ orchestra playing there. Captain Davidson is described as looking at a poster outside Schomberg’s hotel which

Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, the young captain.





35 a

In May 1887 H N Andersen, P Andersen and F Kinch, the new owners of the Oriental Hotel, posed proudly in front of the new building. The Oriental Hotel was the first luxury hotel in Siam, built on the grounds of the former family palace of Prince Prisdang. Never had such opulence been seen in Bangkok outside the palace. The neoclassical building modelled after a Renaissance Palace was furnished with carpets covering its hallways, artistic wallpaper with the latest designs from Paris made you feel at home, the bedrooms on the second floor were furnished with mahogany rattan. But the most important fact was that it was a concrete building. This picture was taken from the first floor of the first Oriental Hotel’s verandah (note the wooden structure in the foreground).


HIH Crown Prince Nicholas of Russia The future Emperor of Russia (front row, centre left) spent one week as a guest of King Chulalongkorn (centre) at the Oriental Hotel in February 1891.


The bar counter was made of teak with marble. Next to it stood two large billiard tables, surrounded by five sofas. A portrait of George Washington overlooked the room. The card room next door offered five card tables and three chessboards. There were two additional private dining rooms on the ground floor. In the main dining room were four tables with 48 chairs and four punkahs, these precursors of airconditioning, pulled to and fro by means of a cord, creating a delightful breeze. In many cases the cords were tied around the big toe of punkah wallahs, boys who were posted outside the rooms. They moved the sheets of cloth continuously and legend has it that the punkah wallahs were even able to keep operating the fans in their sleep. * In 1893, Franklin Bill Hurst, who had come to Siam in 1888 as a member of Sir Andrew Clarke’s Railway Survey, bought the Oriental Hotel. H N Andersen sold to him the hotel business only and kept the Oriental Store on the other side of the alley, in the old Oriental Hotel. The store continued to suply the hotel with imports. In particular the most expensive wines of the world, like Chateau Mouton and Chateau Lafite Rothschild and the finest champagnes. In 1897 Andersen returned to Denmark and founded the East Asiatic Company, along with I Glückstadt, the first director of the Landmans-Banken. Today it is the largest company in Denmark with branches all over the world. In Bangkok, the EAC would build the East Asiatic Company building, right behind the first and ‘old’ Oriental Hotel.


1891 Under Andersen’s ownership the Oriental Hotel finally entered the league of luxury hotels. By the way: at the bar they served the Andersen’s Special — Dutch gin over an egg yolk, a splash of Angostura, sugar and nutmeg.


King Chulalongkorn in London. Reception by the Duke of Cambridge at Victoria Station in 1897.



ince the Paknam Incident, King Chulalongkorn wanted to travel to Europe. The idea of an extended tour of the entire European continent took on shape. He had to present his kingdom to the world. The right moment had come after the AngloFrench Declaration of London in 1896 was signed.

1897 — The Grand Tour

* The royal trip to Europe started on 7 April 1897. His Majesty was accompanied by members of his family and courtiers. The group was on board the Royal Yacht Maha Chakri (built for this trip), sailing down to the Gulf of Siam, to Singapore, Colombo, Port Aden and via the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea to Venice, Italy. Chulalongkorn was the first King of Siam to ever set foot in Europe; and European media simply couldn’t get enough of their royal visitor from the magically mysterious Kingdom of the White Elephant. In Vienna he was warmly welcomed by Emperor Franz Joseph I. After extensive tours of the city, its museums and attractions, the emperor presented Chulalongkorn with one of the famous Lipizzan horses. It was sent to Siam by ship. Upon arrival in Russia he stayed as the royal guest of the Emperor of Russia, Tsar Nicholas II at Peterhof Palace for 8 days. From Russia, the royal party boarded again the Maha Chakri and sailed to Sweden, Denmark and England. In London they were warmly welcomed by the Prince of Wales and stayed at Buckingham Palace. Queen Victoria gave a dinner for him. Next stop was Belgium, followed by Germany and a dinner with the Kaiser. In the Royal Yacht Maha Chakri, 1897


While King Chulalongkorn was travelling in Europe, Siam was governed by his wife, Queen Regent Saovabha Phongsri.

Netherlands he was the royal guest of H M Emma, Queen Regent and H M Wilhelmina, Queen of Holland. From Holland, the King took the train to Belgium and France. Welcomed by the President of France, the King received a hearty cheer from the crowd. Next destination was Madrid and then back to Italy, with Naples and Pompei being the last two cities of Europe to visit on this trip. Interesting enough, he secretly returned to some countries, this time incognito. Back on board the Maha Chakri, the group arrived back in Bangkok on 16 December 1897, after covering 12 European countries in nine months.



cuisine. We found this article in the Bangkok Times of 12 July 1909, for example: ‘On the Saturday night, the Veranda of the dining room of the Oriental Hotel was transformed into a richly decorated reserved dining room where a few friends gave a farewell party to Mr Rigotti, the architect who designed the Throne Hall, who is returning to Italy after two years in residence in Bangkok.
The grand clou of the evening was of course the dinner which was prepared and served to satisfy the taste of the most refined gourmet, the cordon bleu of Madame Bujault having this time rivalled his cleverest confrères of Chez Paillard and Café Riche in Paris.’ * In 1907, King Chulalongkorn paid a second visit to Europe. Again, the charming King conquered the hearts of the Europeans and returned with great new ideas and technical inventions. Siam had shown flag again, its King being its greatest ambassador. Today The Oriental pays tribute to these achievements in its Royal and Ambassador Suites in the Authors’ Wing.


In 1904, the Oriental Hotel was host to Italian Prince Luigi Amedeo, Duke of the Abruzzi, member of the Royal House of Savoy and cousin of the Italian King, Victor Emmanuel III. He attended the opening of the new Tha Chin Klong Station with Prince Vajiravudh (above). Left: HM King Chulalongkorn in Denmark in 1907, between Princess Marie d’Orléans and daughter Margaret, at the Bernstorff Palace. Left page: the landing pier of the Oriental Hotel. In the background, to the right, the equally classical Venetian-style facade of the headquarter of the East Asiatic Company (built after 1887, when the ‘new’ Oriental Hotel had opened). The company was central to developing trade between Thailand and the rest of the world and this building was its headquarters.


The concert hall at the Oriental Hotel was the centre of Western arts in Bangkok. This poster advertises the appearance of Carl Mühlberger (inset),
an Austrian composer.

From Maria Maire’s family album: she and her husband Jules Auguste in Bangkok in 1912, and in the hotel’s gardens. Left: From The Oriental’s store room – a General Electric’s- Ercole Marelli double blades - double cage oscillating ‘partners’ fan with brass blades (ca. 1915-1920). On display at the Oriental Journey.


Hotel. Being British one no longer socialised with a German subject, and an Austrian diplomat was no longer invited to a French garden party, for example. At the Oriental Hotel, the new Austria-Hungarian ambassador tried to persuade everybody that this ‘emergency’ would soon be over. He couldn’t have been more wrong. * Drifting on the waves of refugees of the Great War which took place on the battle fields of Europe, the dancer Vaslav Nijinsky found himself stranded in Bangkok. In 1916, Maria Maire presented the ‘God of dance’, as he was nicknamed. Kiev-born Nijinsky, possibly the greatest dancer of the 20th century, gave the first display of classic Western ballet in Bangkok, at the Oriental Hotel. * On 22 July 1917, Siam’s declaration of war against Germany burst upon smiling, optimistic Bangkok like a bolt out of the blue. Now dinners and concerts at the Oriental Hotel were held in aid of ambulance funds, the Red Cross and other charities.

1914–1920s of the hotel. In an article he called it ‘a small place with forty bad, comfortless rooms in an old building on the bank of the river.’ While admitting that it had ‘two characteristics of a first-class hotel: an entrance hall and a fine dining-room’, he deplored its lack of ‘a drawing room for ladies’ and of ‘proper bathing accommodations’, and, worst of all, its generally rundown appearance, his impression being ‘that it must be ten years since the place had a coat of paint.’ Henri Cucherousset had dared to attack a national institution. A lengthy, indignant and dignified answer appeared in the Bangkok Times. For M Cucherousset’s edification and for the benefit of future travellers it contained an account of the hotel’s history, including the grand reopening in 1887, a detailed description of the present establishment – ‘one of the best in the East’ – and a terse rejoinder at the end: ‘We think M Cucherousset owes us an apology for his harsh remarks.’ Nevertheless, the past decade had left its mark on the world and the hotel in Bangkok was no exception. A fresh coat of paint was long overdue, the water pipes leaked and the roof had not been repaired for years. The problem was raising the money necessary for such renovations.

* After the war, in 1919, neither the hotel nor the world of exotic travel were prospering. While local social activities flourished modestly – a monthly dance held at the Oriental Hotel was frequently attended by members of the Thai Royal Family – the hotel was badly affected by the global economic crisis. M Henri Cucherousset, correspondent of the Hanoi journal L‘Eveil Economique de l‘Indochine came to Bangkok in 1920. The journalist took a dim view

* In 1924, Maria Maire came up with the answer. She founded the Oriental Hotel Company. The new firm raised capital of 60,000 Baht, a huge sum for the 1920s. Maire became one of the shareholders Vaslav Nijinsky



in command of the post had insisted that I should stay in his own house. He gave me his best bedroom. I had not the heart to say that I preferred my own little camp-bed, which had a mosquito-net, to his, which had not. The anopheles snatched at the golden opportunity.’ It was a bad attack. For some days the quinine had no effect on him. One morning he overheard a conversation between Mme Maria Maire and the doctor. ‘I can’t have him die here, you know. You must take him to the hospital.’ The doctor replied: ‘All right. But we’ll wait a day or two yet.’


‘Well, don’t leave it too long,’ she replied. A few days later Maugham recovered. ‘And because I had nothing to do except look at the river and enjoy the weakness that held me blissfully to my chair I invented a fairy story.’ In 1925, Maugham was back in Bangkok, stopping again at the Oriental Hotel, and he stayed for two weeks in perfect health, much to Madame Maire’s relief. On his last visit to Bangkok in 1960 to celebrate his 85th birthday he reminisced: ‘I was almost evicted from the Oriental Hotel because the manager did not want me to ruin her business by dying in one of her rooms.’ William Somerset Maugham stayed at the Oriental Hotel in 1923, 1925 and in 1960. Caricature by Ronald Searle (1954). Right: Sitting for British sculptor Jacob Epstein in 1951.

In the 1930s, Noël Coward, the English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer, known for his wit, flamboyance, and what Time Magazine called ‘a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise’, frequented the Oriental Hotel. Backed by the success of his play ‘Private Lives’ he toured all over Asia. Here he invented ‘Mad Dogs and Englishmen’, a song which secured him eternal fame. At the Oriental Hotel he enjoyed the terrace and the company of a cosmopolitan society. *

“I have the idea that few people in a private station can have been drawn, painted or sculptured more often than I have. Artists have found me a patient sitter. They like to talk while they work and I am a good listener.” W. Somerset Maugham ‘Purely for My Pleasure’ (1962)


Noël Coward (1899–1973) was a frequent guest at the Oriental Hotel:

‘There is a terrace overlooking the swift river where we have drinks every evening watching the liver-coloured water swirling by and tiny steam tugs hauling rows of barges up river against the tide. It is a lovely place and I am fonder of it than ever.’


1928 St. Andrew’s Ball at the Oriental Hotel

The Bangkok St. Andrew’s Society was established in 1890 by a small group of expatriate Scots. It is the oldest among the ‘loyal’ societies in Thailand, including St. Patrick’s, St. David’s and St. George’s.  The Society for Scots usually celebrates several social events like Burns Supper and Highland Games, but the undisputed highlight of the year is St. Andrew’s Ball in late November or early December on a weekend near St. Andrew’s day. It was traditionally held at the Oriental Hotel. Note the elegant dresses. The influence of the Western society triggered a group of talented Siamese tailors, mostly of Chinese origin.


One of the first telephone numbers of the Oriental Hotel was ‘Bangkok 5257’.


1920s: The Siamese air-mail service started.


Travelling to Bangkok While a steamer from Europe to Indonesia would have never come near Bangkok, the 1932 KLM schedule from Amsterdam to Batavia in a Fokker F-12 or F-18 was very different. The flight path (the duration of each flight was determined by hours of available daylight, interruptions by sandstorms, monsoons, etc.) were: Amsterdam – Marseille – Rome – Brindisi – Athens – Mersa Matruh – Cairo – Gaza – Baghdad – Bushir – Djask – Karachi – Jodhpur – Allahabad – Calcutta – Akyab – Rangoon – Bangkok – Alor Star – Medan – Palembang – Batavia. At dusk, the aircraft landed and one spent a night at a hotel. The next morning the journey was continued.

Illustration: Manfred Markowski



1930 1920s

84 1937 Christmas 1937 Sending a letter from the Oriental Hotel is a statement. Letterhead: a white elephant in a red circle, the prestigious name ORIENTAL HOTEL BANGKOK underneath. Content: dropping a line about the recent visit to Calcutta and the odour of Bangkok. Delivery: sending it to Calcutta, having it forwarded to its recipient at ‘The Club, Darjeeling’.



n 1935, the year of Ananda Mahidol’s succession as King, the Oriental Hotel’s proprietors and managers,
the Sylows, left Bangkok and Mr J O Hossig tried his hand at enhancing the hotel’s prestige. In order to regain the old sparkle he staged a sumptuous dinner for 200 guests, offering special treats by hiring the best orchestra in town, buying all the latest gramophone records and commissioning a Siamese artist to paint a panoramic frieze of Alpine scenery round the dining room.
After that he decided to vary the menu. In addition to the hotel’s already famous French cuisine, Smorrebrod now became one of the hotel’s specialities. His Christmas programme was the merriest in town. * The forerunners of jet-setters were propeller-hoppers. In 1936, Charles H Holmes and his wife, who were on the 12,754-mile journey from Brisbane to London, set a whirlwind pace unimaginable to their predecessors. One typical day’s itinerary read as follows: ‘Breakfast– Batavia; lunch on plane; dinner–Singapore.’
On the fifth day of their journey, the couple reached Don Muang aerodrome in Bangkok where ‘brown men took and sealed our camera lest we should photograph the rice fields or the canals or the wats and bots, the last two being the terms in Siam for monasteries and temples respectively.’ *

1930s The Holmes, as the vanguard of a new breed of globetrotters, inevitably took rooms at the Oriental Hotel: ‘Our room at the hotel was allotted by a Frenchman and a native boy entered with the largest “Flit” gun I’ve ever seen, and set out disconcerting the mosquitoes which apparently take a siesta beneath the bed during the day, for there the boy concentrated most of his attention. My wife went to open the window, but retreated with an exclamation as two lizards darted up the glass to the ceiling.’ Another feature of the hotel that remained unchanged was the convivial company to be found in the hotel’s lounges, where stories were exchanged and views expounded just as they had been in Joseph Conrad’s days. The Holmes fell into conversation with two Englishmen and from them learnt that the nation’s traditional affinity for things English had waned. Holmes discovered that ‘Siam is said to be developing a marked preference for Japan, and Japan a marked interest in Siam, where she holds big business interests. If Japan’s aspirations extend to Siam, wedged between British Burma and French Indochina, that country will assume vital importance and will be a pivot on which great events may hinge in Far Eastern affairs.’ Prophetic words indeed.

Comfort in the air: on board service on an Imperial Airways flight.



Sanuk Sanuk is the Thai word for ‘fun’. The legendary Bamboo Bar, first opened in 1947 and revamped several times (last renovation was completed in 2015), is Bangkok’s greatest jazz venue and The Oriental’s haunt for night owls. For many years barkeeper Sompong Boonsri (left, today retired) was the daily ‘master of Sanuk’ at the bar. He is part of the history of the hotel like the wonderful Marat Yuldybaev, the sax-player who appears on every snapshot taken over the past decades.



Germaine Krull remembers:

Mrs Eleanore Roosevelt arrived as a guest of the Thai government to speak at the American Association luncheon held at the Oriental Hotel, where a crowd of over 1000 people awaited her.

‘Our bill collectors had their problems. One debtor had left the French Embassy as an address and, when the collector called there, he was said never to have been there, but the officials were able to give him the man’s address. He called at the home and was given a sealed envelope which he brought in, assuming that it contained money. On opening it Ruang found the following extraordinary letter which he brought to me: “Dear Madam, I received your letter of yesterday’s date. I am very sorry with the attitude shown me, especially when I am born the greatest super human the world has ever known. Didn’t you know, dear Madam, that by act of God and Nature and my parents I am created a super natural at Silom, Bangrak on the Monday, 28th September, 1896, at 7 a.m. Well, let me tell you in this letter and by law of nature that a super natural need not have any money.

In 1958, Germaine Krull’s great achievement, the Tower Wing, opened with 48 rooms, 30 offering river view. While it was under construction, one of her partners in the business, Mr Pote Sarasin, became Prime Minister of Thailand. ‘Having one of my partners as premier was no advantage,’ Germaine comments, ‘as he was fully occupied at a time when I needed advice for the many problems. The floors were already almost fully occupied when the lifts were installed at last and the official opening date was set to be the 1st of April 1958. I sent out the invitations telling my friends it was not an April Fool’s joke but the lucky date chosen by a famous old monk.’

If you think I have to pay for the meals and etc. incurred in the Oriental Hotel you may with my greatest pleasure report my matter to the High Commission of Police of Thailand Nai Phow Sri Yanon or the highest authority in the country. I wish to thank you very much here for your kindness and remember that kindness shall be returned for kindness and nothing else. With nothing further but wish you good health, peace, happiness and prosperity and may God bless you and your family, Yours sincerely H W Berlandier,
Thai Super Natural Extraordinary.”
 ‘What are we going to do with this?’ asked Ruang. ‘I never agreed to be responsible for super natural beings in the hotel,’ I replied.




Since November 1958: An invention of Germaine Krull, developed and fine-tuned over the decades, Le Normandie (originally the ‘Normandie Grill’) always was Bangkok’s leading French restaurant.



Since November 1983 Sala Rim Naam opened as the authentic Thai restaurant with a colourful Thai dance show. To the left: China House, situated in front of the hotel – by many regarded as the most elegant Cantonese restaurant outside of China.


Valerie Marie O’Neill (1929–2010) To commemorate the centenary of The Oriental, Melbourne born Valerie Marie O’Neill was commissioned to do a painting of the original hotel from a surviving postcard. This painting is on display at the hotel. It graced the cover of the first editions of the Oriental history book. Valerie Marie O’Neill had studied under Sir William Dargie, eight times winner of the Archibald Prize for Portraiture. Dargie later called her the best portrait painter in Australia. She was commissioned to paint Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt. In the 1970s Valerie settled into life in Bangkok where she painted portraits of several of the Thai princesses, which now hang in the Royal Palace, and of the Prime Minister, Thanom Kittikachorn.


In 1966, Germaine Krull sold her hotel shares and moved to Paris. In April 1967, Jim Thompson, founder of the Thai Silk Company, disappeared under mysterious circumstances in the highlands of Malaysia. The end of an era. * Giorgio Berlingieri, born in Genoa in Italy in 1922, entered The Oriental’s history book in 1967. His company ‘Italthai’ was well on the way to becoming one of the country’s most significant mercantile groups, eventually consisting of over 60 companies, covering almost all aspects of the Thai economy. Italthai was founded in the mid-fifties by Berlingieri as a joint-venture with Dr Chaijudh Karnasuta. This very Dr Chaijudh first called Berlingieri about The Oriental in 1967. Berlingieri later reproduced this conversation in An Oriental Album: ‘The first step leading to the acquisition was taken in mid-air, so to speak. My partner, Dr Chaijudh Karnasuta, co-chairman of the Italthai, put in a longdistance call to me, as I was on a business trip to Italy.
“There’s a hotel for sale.” “Forget it,” was my immediate reply.
“It’s the Oriental Hotel,” said Dr Chaijudh, a man of few words.
“Why didn’t you say so?” I cried. “Of course, we’ll buy it!”
“That’s what I thought you would say,” the good doctor calmly remarked.
And that was that.’

1967–1976 Italthai as Charles Regnault, his assistant for over ten years, put it, had his own understanding of a grand hotel. His plans went beyond the horizon of the City of Angels. His aim was clear: the Oriental Hotel must become one of the best hotels in the world. Berlingieri looked for an able lieutenant to run the hotel for him. The right man was Kurt Wachtveitl, an individualist from head to toe, giving the hotel an irresistible driving force that would lead it to international renown. * In 1970, rooms at the Oriental Hotel cost 275 Baht for a single and 390 Baht for a double. The Royal and Thai suites in the old building were 1,000 Baht per night. * At this point in history, Hong Kong Land, the owners of the Mandarin Hotel in Hong Kong, a luxurious hotel on Hong Kong Island, had decided to establish Mandarin International Hotels Ltd and expand into Southeast Asia. In search for suitable properties and hotels to manage, the Oriental Hotel matched their requirements in Thailand. The two companies entered into a partnership in 1972 which continues harmoniously to this day.’ The story of the deal was recounted by Berlingieri and can be found in the full-text version of this book.

Berlingieri, a connoisseur of fine wines, the founder of the Bangkok Gourmet Club and the ‘man with something more’


Giorgio Berlingieri


A Building Chronology




H N Andersen had this elegant concrete hotel (H) structure built, modelled after an elegant Renaissance Palace and in place of Prince Prisdang’s family palace. To the right, under red clay tiles, the two-storey teak wood structure which was the ‘old’ Oriental (O) Hotel, rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1865.


1920s Maria Maire had the gardens elegantly landscaped. The original building is today’s Authors’ Wing (H).



To the left the Ambassador Wing (A), called ‘Ambassador Wing’ because Prince Prisdang, who inspired it, was the first Siamese ambassador to the United Kingdom. However, it was nicknamed ‘Bowling Alley’, because it was situated where C Falck’s Bowling Alley stood.

1947 The war years had left their marks on the Oriental Hotel. The ‘Bowling Alley’, the first Ambassador Wing, after the war. Charming, but tired.

A Building Chronology






The inauguration of the new Embassy Wing (E), a cocktail party, given by Germaine Krull.


Among Krull’s greatest achievements: The Tower Wing (T, today the Garden Wing), with Le Normandie Restaurant on the top. To the left the new Embassy Wing (E) and the old Ambassador Wing (A). The historic (H, today Authors’ Wing) wing, to the right a part of the East Asiatic Company building.




The Embassy Wing (E) received an extension and a new façade. The first terrace was built and the jetty moved right into its centre. Untouched: the historic (H, the Royal Palace) Wing,today’s Authors’ Wing.



The Ambassador Wing (A) is demolished, the River Wing (R) built in front of it.






Making a farewell tour of Asia was David Rockefeller towards the end of 1980. The retiring chairman of the family’s Chase Manhattan Bank checked into the Somerset Maugham Suite where he and his wife last stayed in November 1974.

Numerous hit songs by the Carpenters, and Phantom of the Paradise. Williams and his entourage presented two successful performances in the Grand Ballroom. Everybody now enjoyed the hotel’s great seafood temple Lord Jim, which had opened its gates. * In 1980, for the sake of posterity, a ‘Louis T Leonowens Time Capsule’ was sealed in front of the Authors’ Wing in the concrete base of the company’s symbol, a huge swing. Dr Thanat Khoman, deputy PM, was the guest of honour who placed and sealed the capsule. It contains artefacts of the present, photographs, newspapers and some little secrets which will only be revealed when the capsule is opened in 75 years time on 5 June 2055.

Gene Hackman arrived on his first visit to Thailand accompanied by his wife and teenage son Christopher. He admitted that Bangkok was everything he hoped it would be: ‘Colourful, exotic and full of beautiful people’. His latest film at this time was All Night Long in which he co-stared with Barbara Streisand. Later he would arrive for the shooting of a new film Uncommon Valor, some scenes of which were shot on the terrace.

In 2002, 125th anniversary items were vacuum sealed and packed into the time capsule; this time an earlier edition of this book was among them. * French actor Pierre Richard was warmly received at Le Normandie while in Bangkok to celebrate the opening of his new film It’s Not Me, It’s Him. Relaxing at The Oriental was the Swedish Wagnerian Opera Soprano, Birgit Nilsson. Nilsson had just completed a series of performances on San Francisco and Tokyo and was on her way back to Switzerland. French actor and composer Serge Gainsbourg arrived, so did King and


1981 ‘The Best Hotel in the World’

On a very special visit to Bangkok and staying in the Noël Coward Suite during the European winter 1981/82 was David John Moore Cornwell, better known as John Le Carré, who was here to attend the wedding of his son, Simon Cornwell and his bride Vatana Jarusombat.


John Le Carré never forgot his first visit to The Oriental, when he spent an entertaining evening with David Greenway, then of the Washington Post, in the ‘troubled mid-seventies’.

Queen Birendra of Nepal who were at the hotel for a luncheon in Le Normandie. The Brotherhood of Man, winners of the 1976 Eurovision Song Contest with Save Your Kisses For Me, performed before a packed Grand Ballroom on Christmas Eve. Nicky Stevens, Sandra Stevens, Martin Lee and Lee Sheridon sang their new releases and old favourites to happy Thai fans. On a one-week holiday were American TV actor and singer Richard Eastham and his wife. 1981 was to become one of the most remarkable years in the history of the Grand Old Lady of Bangkok.

Tina rocked Bangkok: The Oriental’s Grand Ballroom was packed when dynamic American rock singer Tina Turner gave two concerts. Tina, backed by a superb five-piece band and four leggy dancers, performed what was described as the most energetic riotous rock show ever seen in Bangkok.


1993: Michael Jackson (above at the press conference in Bangkok) stayed at the hotel during his Dangerous World Tour and in the depressing period of being accused of unpleasant things. 138

Nevertheless, the star was in great demand and it was almost impossible to seal the house from fans who tried to sneak in almost through the water pipe. Jackson had to enter the hotel through the staff entrance and climbed up to the Oriental Suite over the back stair case. Fans besieged the hotel from all sides, even by boat from the river. The easiest way to get in touch with the star was, of course, the telephone. Jackson could count on the operator. Whenever a caller wanted to be put through to the superstar’s nest at the Oriental Suite, Rabieb Boonkuncheing, manageress of the hotel’s telephone exchange, swiftly said: ‘I’ll put you through.’ She then connected the call to another telephone next to her: ‘Yes, halloo?’ this time she answered with a high pitched voice and American accent: ‘I love you all.’ Then the beep-beep of everyday telephone life brought the caller back to reality. We wonder how many people in Bangkok still believe that Michael Jackson has actually spoken to them.

During his days as a lobby boy, Khun Anusorn was the famous Oriental liftboy who – without looking – pressed the correct button of each guest’s floor from the outside of the cabin. That trick made him famous. He is now the lobby manager.

Frederick Forsyth, the British author of such best sellers as The Day of the Jackal, The Dogs of War and The Fourth Protocol, escaped colder climates during winter as well as Gore Vidal who arrived to celebrate New Year’s Eve at The Oriental. The Czech Republic President HE Vaclav Havel honoured the hotel by signing the golden book (which, by the way, is not golden at all) in his Somerset Maugham Suite. Michael Palin, British actor and scriptwriter, then best known for the Monty Python series, left the hotel – sadly – for the station to board the Eastern & Oriental Express train. Actresses Goldie Hawn and Sally Field resided at the hotel during their trip to Thailand.


1995: Members of
The Oriental’s executive staff surround the late Mimi Berlingieri, widow of the Italthai founder Georgio (second row, third from left). She was an active director of the hotel until her death the same year.

1996: the legendary chef of The Oriental, Norbert Kostner, in British composer Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and his wife Lady Madeleine celebrated the maestros birthday at the Sala Rim Naam Restaurant. Ex-champion of kick-boxing Jean Claude Van Damme dropped by The Oriental Spa to experience its unique herbal rejuvenation treatments. The Oriental Spa was the first of its kind in Asia. In the words of Harpers & Queen Abroad: ‘The spa epitomizes calm, traditional elegance. From the moment you discard your shoes at the door and are handed an iced flannel and a glass of cardamom tea, every aspect of the spa is designed to soothe the soul.’ Voted “The Best Spa in the World” by all sorts of publications, it offers the ever popular Oriental Massage, the Jet Lag Recovery Treatment or the Oriental Herbal Pack. Terence Stamp, the British actor who played the super villain General Zod in Superman II and also starred in Wall Street, stopped by for lunch at Lord Jim’s while

conversation with HM The Queen of England. The banqueting staff of the hotel has been introduced to Her Majesty after a successful evening, arranged by The Oriental.

Australian Prime Minister HE Paul Keating and his wife Anita came to attend the opening ceremony of The Friendship Bridge across the Mekong River, connecting Thailand and Laos. HE Pascal Lissouba, President of the Republic of the Congo and his wife Jocelyne resided here during their visit to Thailand. Their Imperial Highnesses the Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako of Japan graced the premises with their presence. German socialites, industrialist Gunter Sachs and his wife Mirja Sachs, spent their holiday here.



1999: Leonardo DiCaprio (at that time of Titanic fame) arrived to film The Beach. He autographed The Oriental’s guestbook and posed for a photograph with Kurt Wachtveitl.


Magnum Tom Selleck arrived as well as German actress Uschi Glas. Leo Sayer enjoyed the ‘still most beautiful retreat in Bangkok’, Ryan O’Neil was ‘very happy to be here’, Viennese opera singer Christa Ludwig wished ‘to come back as soon as possible’, HE Thomas Klestil, President of the Republic of Austria stayed here during his official visit to Thailand in 1995. So did HH Sheikh Sad Al-Abdullah Al-Salem, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of the State of Kuwait. Sir Peter Ustinov presented a preview of the film Sir Peter Ustinov in Thailand during a cocktail reception in the hotel’s Authors’ Lounge. Asia’s popular superstar, Jackie Chan, stayed at The Oriental in order to promote his latest movie Rumble in the Bronx. He truly enjoyed his time at the James Michener Suite. Amelita M Ramos praised the ‘service’ which was ‘as usual excellent’, magician David Copperfield and magic Claudia Schiffer enjoyed in particular the grace and friendliness of the best hotel in the land of smiles. In the 1997’ James Bond Tomorrow Never Dies, featuring Pierce Brosnan opposite Jonathan Pryce and

2009: Ankana Kalantananda had joined the hotel in 1947, Kurt Wachtveitl in 1967. After 42 years at the helm of the hotel, Kurt Wachtveitl retired. Michelle Chaplow captured the moment. co-starring Michelle Yeoh, Bangkok was used as a substitute backdrop for Ho Chi Minh City. Guess where the stars stayed. Right! The VIP arrivals of the new millennium were numerous, among them Naomi Campbell, the super model, and Maria Sharapova, the super tennis player. India’s Sonia Ghandi returned – alone. Hollywood star Michael Douglas has been seen wandering around the Authors’ Lounge. Roman Polanski paid a visit, Bill Gates was here; where else? * The new general manager, Jan Goessing, who, after two years, moved on to preside over the Mandarin Oriental hotels in the USA, opened O-Zone, a popular recreation area for The Oriental’s staff. In 2016, the Authors’ Wing was completely renovated and restored to a never before seen glory. It reopend with the stately Royal Suite and the Ambassador Suite.


2012: Amanda Hyndman

became the fourth female general manager (1904 M O Bujault, 1910 Maria Maire, 1947 Germaine Krull). She personally has a long lasting love affair with The Oriental Bangkok, ever since a private visit in 1990.

In 2014 she inspired The Oriental Journey, a permanent exhibition of the history of the hotel.

There, Austrian historian Carola Augustin has curated a unique collection of historic photographs of the Royal Family of Siam / Thailand. On the ground floor the Authors’ Lounge was refurbished. The artwork in the lounge now reflects the literary connection of the hotel, with the world’s largest collection of portraits of visiting authors, among them Nobel Prize laureats and some of the most famous writers in time. The Joseph Conrad Terrace, the Noël Coward Lounge, the Somerset Maugham Lounge and the James Michener Lounge pay tribute to these especially Oriental-connected artists. The former Reading Room is now called Khun Ankana’s Study and displays photographs of the legendary Ankana Kalantananda, one of the beloved members of The Oriental family. *** Well done, dear reader! After 140 pages of solid history and racy society life, it is time to unwind: there is no better place to relax than at The Oriental’s Spa (right). Perfect to get ready for the following pages with some 500-600 names of important personalities who enjoyed The Oriental at some point in history.



From left to right, line by line: Janet Wallach, Morris L West, Ian Watt, Richard West, Kenneth White, Mishima Yukio, | Ravi Zacharias, Gavin Young And some of the guest speakers at The S.E.A. Write Awards: Jeffrey Archer, | Anthony Beevor, Sarah Bradford, Jung Chang, William Darlymple, Victoria Glendinning, William Golding, | Pico Iyer, Mario Vargas Llosa, Norman Mailer, Iris Murdoch, Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, Edna O’Brien, | David Terence Puttnam, Norman Sherry, Edwin Nadason Thumboo, Sidney Sheldon, Wilbur Smith, James Michener.




S.E.A. Write Award Guest Speakers 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999

Harold Stephens Zelda La Grange Edna O’Brien Simon Winchester Edwin Thumboo William Dalrymple Paul Theroux (first time in 1985) Antony Beevor Sarah Bradford S P Somtow (Somtow Sucharitkul) Rita Dove Meira Chand Victoria Glendinning Mario Vargas Llosa Pico Iyer Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul Lord David Puttnam

1998 1997 1996 1995 1994 1993 1991 1990 1988 1987 1986 1985 1984 1983 1982 1981 1980

Norman Mailer Frederick Forsyth Jung Chang Dame Iris Murdoch Dame Margaret Drabble, Lady Holroyd Lord Jeffrey Archer Norman Sherry Sheridan Morley Wilbur Smith Sir Peter Ustinov Morris West Paul Theroux William Golding M R Kukrit Pramoj Gore Vidal Han Suyin James A Michener

The S.E.A. Write Award As a tribute to The Oriental’s literary tradition, The S.E.A. Write Award honours the greatest literary talents of Southeast Asia. Above: HM The Queen personally presented the awards. Ever since, the annual presentation and gala dinner has always been presided over by a member of the Thai Royal Family.


Rex Morgan with Chaturong Siewsuth; ‘007’ Roger Moore


Scholl-Latour Peter Schreiber Hermann Schumacher Michael Sedaka Neil Selleck Tom Sharapova Maria Sharif Omar Sheil Timothy Francis Sheldon Sidney Shelton Deborah Sherry Norman Sichel Kim Sinclair Joplin Singh Vijay Smith Wilbur Addison Sommerville Maxwell Somtow SP Springer F Squier Billy Stallone Sylvester Stamp Terence Steinbeck John Stephens Harold Stewart Jackie Stone Oliver Strachan Saunders Cynthia

German-French author German author German Formula 1 driver American singer and songwriter American actor Russian-American tennis champion Egyptian actor Author American author American actress British author American author British author Fijian professional golfer South African author American scientist and author Thai-American composer and author Dutch author American rock musician American actor, screenwriter and director British actor American author, Nobel Prize laureate 1962 American author British racing driver American film director and producer American author

Straub Peter Strauss Peter Struthers Sally Sunthorn Phu Sutherland Joan Suyin Han Takada Kenzo Tan Amy Tang David Taradash Daniel Taylor Elizabeth Terzani Staude Angela Theroux Paul Thumboo Edwin Nadason Thyssen-Bornemisza de Kászon Hans Henrik Turner Tina Ungaro Emanuel Ustinov Peter Van Beek Steve Van Damme Jean-Claude Vatikiotis Michael Vidal Gore Voon Wong Meng Vossenaar Freek Vuitton Louis Wallach Janet Warren William

American author American actor American actress Thai author Australian soprano singer Chinese physician and author Japanese-French fashion designer American author Hong Kong businessman American author American actress Italian author American author Singaporean author Swiss industrialist and art collector American-Swiss singer and actress French fashion designer British actor, author and dramatist American author Belgian actor American author American author Singaporean author Dutch author French businessman, trunk-maker American author American author

Gary Numan and Mr and Mrs Yehudi Menuhin

NOTABLE CLIENTS Warwick Dionne Washam Jo Anne Watanabe Sadao Watt Ian Waugh Alec Waugh Evelyn Weatherby Beth Webber Andrew Lloyd West Morris West Richard White Kenneth Whiting Leonard Wiener Robert Williams Tennessee Williams Venus Williamson Michael Wilson Owen Winchester Simon Winter Roger Wintle Justin Wise Robert Yanni John Christopher Yeoh Michelle Yevtushenko Yevgeny Yip Frances Yipintsoi Misiem Young Gavin Young Paul Yukio Mishima Zacharias Ravi Zellweger RenĂŠe Ziemann Sonja Zohar Daha

American singer, actress and TV show host American professional golfer Japanese Jazz saxophonist British author British author British author American author British composer, musicals Australian author British author British author British actor American author American playwright American tennis champion American author American actor and screenwriter British author American artist British author American film producer and director Greek-American musician Malaysian actress Russian author Hong Kong singer Thai painter and sculpturer British author British singer and songwriter Japanese author Indian author American actress German author American author

The God of soccer: Pele; Bette Midler

Hong Kong Cantopop Frances Yip and playwright Tennessee Williams enjoy The Oriental.


Owen Wilson in good hands, Simon Winchester, guestspeaker at the 2013 S.E.A. Award.

Bill Gates, Maria Sharapova, Andreas Augustin and Harold Stephens, the guest speaker at the 2015 S.E.A. Write Award; Mr and Mrs Vanderbilt.


Royal, Noble and State Visits


2006: While staying at The Oriental, HM Queen Margarethe II of Denmark and Prince Henrik held a banquet in honour of Their Majesties King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit of Thailand at The Oriental Ballroom.


Managing director Amanda Hyndman welcomes HM the King of Malaysia.

Since its opening, The Oriental Bangkok welcomes the most notable international and local visitors. Here is an excerpt of its impressive list of Royal and State Guests (all titles were valid at the time of their visit). Abdul Hamid Halim Shah Abdullah Bin Haji Ahmad Badawi Abdul Halim Akishino Albert Albright Madeleine Alexander Alexandra Alexandra Amedeo of Savoy-Aosta Andreotti Giulio Annan Kofi Anne-Marie Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah Bernhard Bertil Bhawani Singh Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev

Sultan of Kedah PM of Malaysia King of Malaysia Prince of Japan Prince (later King) of Belgium US Secretary of State Prince of Belgium Princess of Denmark Princess of Kent Prince of Italy, Duke of Aosta PM of Italy Ghanaian diplomat, 7.UN Secretary General Queen of Greece Sultan of Perak Prince of the Netherlands Prince of Sweden Maharaja of Jaipur King of Nepal

HM Elizabeth II, the Queen of England, greets the staff after a banquet.

Bongo El Hadj Omar Albert-Bernard Boris Vladimirovich Boutros Boutros-Ghali Bush George H W Carl Gustaf XVI & Silvia Carrington Peter Carter Rosalynn Charles and Diana Chirac Jacques ChrĂŠtien Jean Constantin Dini Lamberto Estrada Joseph Ejercito FĂźrstenberg George & Victoria Fujimori Alberto Fukuda Takeo Gandhi Rajiv Genscher Hans Dietrich George Tupou V George William Goh Chok Tong

President of Gabon Grand Duke of Russia Egyptian diplomat, 6.UN Secretary General President of USA King and Queen of Sweden 6th Baron Carrington 39th First Lady of USA Prince and Princess of Wales President of France PM of Canada Prince of Liechtenstein PM of Italy President of the Philippines Prince and Princess President of Peru PM Japan PM of India Vice-Chancellor of Germany King of Tonga Prince of Hannover PM of Singapore



Opera star José Carreras knees in front of HM Queen Sirikit after a concert. King Hamad bin Isa Al Chalifa is welcomed by managing director Amanda Hyndman.


Pramoj Kukrit Prisdang HRH Prince Quayle Dan Rainier III de Grimaldi Ramos Fidel Reagan Nancy Rocard Michel Rojanastien Boonchu Saad Al Abdullah Al Salim Al Sabah Sarasin Pote Sartzetakis Christos Sathienthai Surakiat Schlüter Poul Schmidt Helmut Schüssel Wolfgang Shinawatra Yingluck Shultz George Sihanouk Norodom Simeon II Singh Manmohan Sonja Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiari Suharto Sukarno Suzuki Zenko Talal Bin Mohammed

PM of Thailand Thatcher Margaret Diplomat, Director of Post & Telegraph Thein Sein US Vice-President Trudeau Pierre Elliott Prince of Monaco Tupou George V President of the Philippines Valdemar First Lady of USA Virawan Amnuay PM of France Vranitzky Franz Deputy PM of Thailand Wangchuck Jigme Khesar Namgyel Crown Prince & PM of Kuwait Weizsäcker Richard von PM of Thailand Willem Alexander President of Greece William Deputy PM of Thailand PM of Denmark Chancellor of Germany PM of Austria PM of Thailand US Secretary of State King of Cambodia King of Bulgaria PM of India Queen of Norway HRH Princess Princess of Iran Maha Chakri President of Indonesia Sirindhorn, President of Indonesia welcomed by hotel PM of Japan manager Marcus Prince of Jordan Bauder.

PM of Great Britain President of Myanmar PM of Canada King of Tonga Prince of Denmark Deputy PM of Thailand PM of Austria King of Bhutan President of Germany Crown Prince, later King of the Netherlands Prince of Sweden


Running The Oriental

About this book Andreas Augustin presents The Oriental, Bangkok

A list of all known individuals who have managed and/or owned the hotel. 1860 Captain James White (a boarding house by his name) in location of today’s East Asiatic Company 1863 Dyer & West, first ‘Oriental Hotel’ same location as White’s 1865 Dyer & Barnes, ‘Oriental Hotel’ destroyed by fire 1866 C Falck rebuilt the hotel and opens Falck’s Hotel 1870s H Jarck (owner C Salje bought Falck’s and renamed it Oriental) 1887 Georges Troisoeufs (owner Messrs Andersen & Co) built the hotel at the current location – Authors’ Wing 1890 Mr Allen
 1891 April: Henry W. Smith
 1891 September: George F Kornloff
 1893 W J Palmer (owner Franklin ‘Bill’ Hurst)
 1899 (a syndicate represented by a Mr
W Downie)
 1903 F S Robertson
 1904 Carl G Edwards (owner Mme M O
Bujault, chef: M Brier) 1910 Mme Maria Maire, nee Faller
(owner Auguste Maire) 1932 Lt Col and Mrs Sylow
 1935 Mr J O Hossig
 1940 Mrs Maria Robins, nee Faller, previous Maire 1942 Mr Mankichi Sugiyama
 1945 Mrs Maria Robins
 1947 Germaine Krull,owner by Krull, Jim Thompson,
Chai Prateepasen, Prince Bhanu, Pote
Sarasin and John Wester 1960 Robert Fassom 1963 Barrie Cross 1965 Albert Urscheler
 1967 Kurt Wachtveitl
 1972 (owner Italthai–Hong Kong Land)
 1976 renamed ‘The Oriental’ 2009 Jan Goessing 2012 Amanda Hyndman

in the library

The Most Famous Hotels in the World — Edition Raconteur Thanks to Amanda Hyndman, who encouraged this new edition. Among all the people who were involved in this and the original editions of this book were: Kurt Wachtveitl, Mark S Bradford, Melvin J J Robson, Norbert A Kostner, Dr Parichart J Suksongkroh, Jonas A Schuermann, Noppawan Phahulrat, Rabieb Boonkunch, Virochana Mochachandra, Supatana Atorn-Phtai, Jørgen Kamstrup, Susanne Worsfold, Phenkhae Chattanont, Anne Arunie, Yasmin Nissen, Herta Tschurlovits, Julie Zhou, Chaturong Siewsutha and Mimi Berlingieri who shared her favourite anecdotes with us. We thank the late Chancham Bunnag for her valuable research and information. We are also especially grateful to Pornsri Luphaiboon, to hotel manager Marcus Bauder and to Ankana Kalantananda who helped so much with all her golden memories. We are very grateful to the late HSH Professor Prince Subhadradis Diskul for his kind advice concerning the history of the Kingdom, we keep fond memories of the late Gavin Young, who told us his Oriental stories. So did the author Harold Stephens. Last but not least many thanks to the public relations department, recently under Etienne de Villiers, and to Mayuree Laolugsanalerd, guest relations director, and all the others who have contributed so generously to this book and who are not mentioned by name. Photographs and copyright for all pictures not specially marked: By Michelle Chaplow, Aniwat Aeulek and the hotel’s archives; 20th Century Fox, Fotografische Sammlung Museum Folkwang, Andreas Augustin Collection, famoushotels archives, Collection Melinda Maire Sandberg; The Malcolm McDonald Collection, Tate Collection, The New York Times, Library of Congress Washington, Nationalbibliothek Wien, Researching editors: Andrew Williamson, Carola Augustin

kl All rights in this publication are reserved. This book and no part of it may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronically, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission in writing of the copyright owne.

kl © 2016, Andreas Augustin ( The Most Famous Hotels in the World® Library title: Augustin, Andreas. The Oriental Bangkok, The Amazing Tale of Bangkok’s Most Famous Hotel. A Chronology. Vienna. 2016. Edition Raconteur. The Most Famous Hotels in the World®.

ISBN: 978-3-900692-52-0



Select Bibliography


Andersen, Hans Niels. (1979). Danish National Biography Entry Antonio, J. (1997). The 1904 Traveller’s Guide to Bangkok and Siam. White Lotus Press Antonis, J. (1904). Guidebook to Bangkok and Siam Baedeker, Karl (1914). Baedeker’s Indien Bainbridge, Henry Charles. (1949). Peter Karl Fabergé: goldsmith and jeweller to the Russian Imperial Court Baldwin, N. C. (1950). Imperial Airways Berlingieri, Giorgio. (1982). ‘His Book’, Bangkok Berlingieri, Giorgio. An Oriental Album Besso, Salvatore. (1914). Siam and China (translated by C Matthews) Bock, Carl. (1884). Temples and Elephants Bradley, Dan Beach. (1859/60, 1862). Bangkok Calendar Brostowe, W. S. (1976). Louis and the King of Siam Buls, Ch. W. E. J. (1994). Siamese Sketches (translated by Tips). White Lotus, Bangkok. Butterworth, Hezekiah. (1888). Zig-Zag Journeys in the Antipodes, Vacation Rambles in the Eastern Lands. Estes and Lauriat, Boston Caddy, Florence. (1923). To Siam and Malaya in the Duke of Sutherland’s yacht ‘Sans Peur’ Campbell, J. G. D. (1902). Siam in the XXth century Chandler, Edmund. (1900). A Vagabond in Asia Cornwel-Smith, Philip. Thailand: Nine Days in the Kingdom, Editions Didier Millet Cort, Mary Lovina. (1886). Siam (or The Heart of Farther India) Davis, William. (1982). The Rich D’Orleans, Prince Henry. (1894). Around Tonkin and Siam Forty, Lt-Colonel C. H. (1929). Bangkok: its Life and Sport Foran, W. Robert. (1935). Malayan Symphony Frater, Alexander. (1986). Beyond the Blue Horizon Garnier, F. translated by Tips, W. E. J. (1996). Further Travels in Laos and in Yunnan. The Mekong Exploration Commission Report (1866-68)—Volume 2. White Lotus, Bangkok Garnier, F. & Delaporte, L. composed and translated by Tips, W. E. J. (1997). A Pictorial Journey on the Old Mekong. The Mekong Exploration Commission Report (1866-68)— Volume 3. White Lotus, Bangkok. Graham, W. A. (1924). Siam (2 Volumes), 2nd Edition Hall, D. G. E. (1981). A History of South-East Asia Harris, Walter B. (1929). East for Pleasure Karl, Frederick R. (1979). Joseph Conrad: The Three Lives Kirkup, James. (1968). Bangkok Kornerup, Ebbe. (1928). Friendly Siam Korwong, Kim. (1950). A New Guide to Bangkok, 2nd Edition Krull, Germaine. Melchers, Dorothea. (1964). Bangkok: Siam’s City of Angels Krull, Germaine. Melchers, Dorothea. (1966). Tales from Siam Leonowens, Anna. (1870). The English Governess at the Siamese Court Leonowens, Anna. (1870). The Original: Anna and the King of Siam Leonowens, Anna. (1873). The Romance of the Harem Marti-Ibanez, Felix. (1966). Journey Around Myself Macgregor, J. (1896). Through the Buffer State Maugham, W Somerset. (1930). The Gentleman in the Parlour McDonald, Malcolm. (1956) Travel Diaries 1920–1959 Norden, Herman. (1923). From Golden Gate to Golden Sun O’Neil, Maryvelma Smith (2008). Bangkok, A Cultural History. Oxford University Press, New York Poole, Frederick King. (1970). Bangkok!

Reith, Rev. George. (1897). A Padre in Partibus Salt, A. E. W. (1930). Imperial Air Routes Seidenfaden, Major Erik. (1927 - 1. ed, 1932 - 3. ed). Guide to Bangkok Sherry, Norman. (1966). Conrad’s Eastern World. Cambridge University Press Smyth, H. Warington. (1898). Five Years in Siam Sommerville, Maxwell. (1889). Engraved Gems: Their History and an Elaborate View of their Place in Art Sommerville, Maxwell. (1897). Siam on the Meinam Sparrow, Gerald. (1955). Land of the Moon Flower Stephens, Harold. (2003). The Strange Disappearance of Jim Thompson. Stephens, Harold. ( (2000) The Chao Phraya - River of Kings Tennant, Roger. (1981). Joseph Conrad: a Biography Tips, W. E. J. (1996a). Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns and the Making of Modern Siam. The Diaries and Letters of King Chulalongkorn’s General Adviser. White Lotus, Bangkok. Tips, W. E. J. (1996b). Siam’s Struggle for Survival. The Gunboat Incident at Paknam and the Franco-Siamese Treaty of October 1893. White Lotus, Bangkok Tuck, P. (1995). The French Wolf and the Siamese Lamb. The French Threat to Siamese Independence, 1858-1907. White Lotus, Bangkok Vincent Jun, Frank. (1873). The Land of the White Elephant Von Hesse-Wartegg, Ernst. (1899). Siam Das Reich des Weissen Elefanten Ward, Philip. (1974). Bangkok: Portrait of a City Warren, William. (1990). Jim Thompson. The Legendary American of Thailand. Jim Thompshon Thai Silk Company Warren, William. Lloyd, Ian R. (1989). Bangkok Waterways, An Explorer’s Handbook Waugh, Alec. (1970). Bangkok: The Story of a City Wells, Margaretta B. (1961). Guide to Bangkok Wheatcroft, Rachel. (1928). Siam and Cambodia in Pen and Pastel Whitehead, John. (1987). Maugham: a Reappraisal Wood, W. A. R. (1965). Consul in Paradise Young, John Russell. (1879). Around the World with General Grant (2 vols) Younghusband, Lt. G. J. (1888). 1,800 Miles on a Burmese tat

Various Publications

Commercial directory for Thailand. 1961–62 Guide to Thailand, Land of Smiles. 1968 Siam Basic Handbook. 1945 The Bangkok Calendar. 1861–1869 The Directory for Bangkok and Siam. 1891 & 1894 The Imperial, The first 100 Years. Tokyo 1990 The Oriental Calendar. 1978–1995 The Oriental Times. 1996, 1998–current The Siam Directory. Since 1878 The Singapore and Straits Directory. 1887 The Times newspaper. 3/1/1937 Twentieth century impressions of Siam. 1908 The King and I. 20th Century-Fox. 1956 The library of The Most Famous Hotels in the World Further reading:

The Most Famous Hotels in the World The Library of Hospitality

Books since 1986

Jim Thompson, the silk king, owned it, the late Peter Ustinov loved it, Graham Greene has a suite named in his honour and Michael Jackson hid from the press there. Hollywood royalty graces the hotel, the Queen of England enjoyed it and Her Majesty, the Queen of Thailand, is a beloved faithful regular visitor.

kl When Thailand was still Siam – in the mid of the 19th century – a rest house for foreign seafarers was established on the banks of the Menam river. It was to become one of the greatest hotels in the world: The Oriental. The Oriental — so many stories, so many tales. What’s the secret behind this composition? This book tells it all. From famous guests to PR strategies and management tactics.

kl From Joseph Conrad, the sea captain and writer, who drank in the bar, to Nijinsky, who danced in the ballroom. Somerset Maugham suffered from malaria in his suite, playwright and actor Noël Coward treasured the memories of his favourite cocktail venue. Meet over 150 of the most important international Authors in their Lounge and enjoy a glimpse of the fascinating Oriental Royal Collection. Over 500 VIPs listed, over 420 photographs, 160 gripping pages.

kl ‘This is a truly gripping, thoroughly researched and well written story of one of the greatest hotels in the world.’ Gavin Young ‘Having known the Oriental for 40 years and more, I find here is a writer who has made the history come alive and tells the story as no other author can.’ Harold Stephens THE MOST FAMOUS HOTELS IN THE WORLD EDITION RACONTEUR ISBN: 978-3-900692-52-0

The Oriental — The Amazing Tale of Bangkok's Legendary Hotel  

In 1the early 1860s, a seafarers' home at the River Meinam in Siam, the 'Kingdom of the White Elephant', opened its doors. Over 150 years la...

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