Dawn of a new era in old Bangkok quarter

Wat Arun, Bangkok’s pearly Temple of Dawn, cuts a striking figure as you chug along the bustling Chao Phraya river.

The iconic pagoda, which dates back to the time of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, has recently been released from a sentence of obscurity behind scaffolding for repairs.

Just across the river, another new look has also been unveiled.

Riva Arun Bangkok’s refurbishment, under the direction of contemporary New York architect and designer Stephen Odell, aims to capture Chino-colonialism with a modern twist. Once a trading post for brown sugar, the 25-room boutique hotel shines with clean cream tones and subtle green accents – mirroring its famous namesake across the water.

Chinese geometric features are notable throughout the property, from the prominent carved wooden paneling in the lobby and restaurant, down to the intricate borders of the bedroom mirrors and vanity stool.

The hotel is situated in Rattanakosin district, in one of Bangkok’s most traditional enclaves. From the vantage point of Above Riva, the rooftop restaurant and bar, turn your gaze away from Wat Arun and take in two of Bangkok’s most essential tourist attractions – Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) and the neighbouring Grand Palace. Guest rooms have been arranged as to have views of the iconic Thai landmarks.

With such sacred significance, it will come as no surprise to learn that land in this district is protected under the crown, meaning you will find none of Bangkok’s growing list of cloud-kissing condos here. Developments are restricted to four storey’s with a fifth-floor rooftop.

In such a rapidly modernising capital city, this is no doubt what will ensure this old quarter of Bangkok retains its charm for generations to come.