Hotels in Silom - Bangkok hotels with a legacy of windmills

by Eric Lim
Hotels in Silom are the Bangkok hotels in the heart of the old Bangrak, a commercial and entertainment area with a long tradition of royal connections and a quaint history.

These Bangkok hotels are located with banks, commercial buildings, moneychangers, shopping centers, restaurants, street vendors, night markets and other entertainment that Silom Road a hive of activity for both tourists and Thais alike.

Silom, or windmill in Thai, used to be an area covered by orchards and yes, windmills to draw water from the canals to water the vast orchards. The area is in a very old part of Bangkok, the Bangrak district, named after a huge Rak tree trunk found in one of the canals.

There're other versions of the origins of this name. Owing to the many hospitals in the area, it's believed the name came from "raksa", as in healthcare. Whatever the reason, the roads in Silom have a long tradition of royal connections.

Silom Road was built by excavating a canal in the middle to allow for canal and land movement. Several of the roads in Silom similarly constructed and named after noblemen who were awarded royal titles for their contributions to road construction.

The Saladaeng area in Silom was originally royal land. Its name, red-roofed pavilion, was derived from the red roof of the train station built in the area by the Danish railway company. The site of a nobleman's mansion in Saladaeng is now the Dusit Thani Hotel, one of the prominent hotels in Silom.

Further on, the Swiss Lodge is nestled in Convent Road, named after the walled convent established by the Carmelite Order of Nuns.

Chao Phraya Surawongse Wattanasak gave his name to Surawongse Road, a road parallel to Silom Road, where the Montien Surawongse and Tawana Ramada are located.

Chao Phraya is also the highest title in ancient Thai nobility, similar to the Duke in British nobility. The title is no longer in use. The other titles in descending order, with their British equivalents in brackets, are Phraya, (Marquis) Phra, (Earl) Luang, (Viscount) and Khun (Baron).

Patpong, the night entertainment area between Silom and Surawongse Roads, was originally the family estate of Luang Patpong Panich, a title awarded to a rich Chinese immigrant. The raunchy activities in the area have somewhat eclipsed its regal origins.

For those who wish to have hotels in Silom within a staggering distance from their watering holes, the Silom Serene and Wall Street Inn would be ideal.

Decho Road, further down Silom Road, got its name from another nobleman, Phraya Siharaj Decho. The Bangkok hotels around this area are Narai Hotel, Silom City Inn, Sofitel Silom, Tower and Triple Two Silom.

The other hotels in Silom closer to the Chao Phraya River are Centre Point Silom, Holiday Inn Silom and Manohra The Lebua at State Tower Hotel (former Meritus Suites State Tower) stands above them all, towering over the Chao Phraya.

What's Silom like today?

Across the road from the Dusit Thani Hotel, a large tract of Saladaeng became Lumphini Park, a gift from King Rama VI to the people in 1925. Up-market high-rise apartments are sprouting up in Soi Saladaeng, the area behind the hotel.

The subway runs under Rama IV Road, which used to be a canal as well, stopping at the Silom Station below the busy Saladaeng junction, under the benign eye of the King Rama VI Monument.

The subway continues on passing under the Pan Pacific Bangkok and Mandarin Hotel Bangkok.

The red-roofed railway station that gave its name to Saladaeng is no longer there, its place taken by the Saladaeng skytrain station, less the red roof.

In the early 1960s, the canal along Silom Road was filled up for road expansion. So were the canals in the neighboring roads like Surawongse Road.

In Patpong, it's business as usual. The windmills, of course, are gone.

But the hotels in Silom, the commercial areas and the pavements in Silom Road are still bustling with life.

Hotels in Silom provide a historical background to the areas in which Bangkok Hotels are located. It is hoped that visitors to Bangkok will be acquainted with the rich history of some of the places they will be passing through.

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