The Dining Room is the name of the stunning restaurant inside W Bangkok’s The House on Sathorn. Crafted out of a beautiful 128-year-old mansion, it is filled with a rich history of its past occupants, while contemporary modifications give the space the character it takes to be the recipient of the Best Interior Design award in our Best Restaurants Guide this year. Thailand Tatler sits down with Eelco Bohtlingk, the director of F&B at The House, to learn more about the history behind this stunning dining room and why it deserves to hold the title this year.
(Relevant: Inside Thailand Tatler Best Restaurants 2017)
How do you feel about winning this award?
A lot of people who were involved are happy. The Dining Room is now seen as a leading example of character and identity for a restaurant in Bangkok. We are happy that we have developed something lasting.
What was the design concept of The Dining Room?
The House on Sathorn is 128 years old, first built as a home for Lord Sathorn. It was originally a residential-styled building that evolved throughout the years. The latter part of its rich history was its usage as the Russian embassy. It is actually a very cool mix of Bangkok’s history and influences the building’s rich designs. We wanted to make sure that the building would remain true to its original inhabitants’ lifestyle. Everything reflects the original build. What is added is a reinterpretation of the past and the history through close work with 56 studios in Thailand. They helped to source locally-made fabrics and materials.
What was the biggest challenge in designing the interior?
The structure wasn’t originally made for this type of cutting edge hospitality. Multiple dining courses require large amounts of space and operating equipment – how to fit it all without affecting the overall design was the true challenge for everyone. We had to adjust to operating in this atmosphere. It wasn’t easy.
Can you give an example of a design element that sets The Dining Room apart from any other restaurant?
If you look at the tapestries and the embroidery in it you can see that they have a distinct weaving technique. We actually got some of our tapestries made by farmers in the north. The design and attention to detail can be seen when you look at each piece.
How does the design of The Dining Room relate to the cuisine you serve?
The story around the design is that everything has a purpose and meaning. We do a cuisine that offers lots of history and reflects the experiences of our Turkish chef. For example, the chef created a dish after seeing a lady grilling bananas on the street. When you eat it, you feel like you are there, but we also try to bring more meaning in by elevating normal local dishes with our own modern flair.
What is your favourite part of The Dining Room?
The very highly decorated ceiling and pillars. They tie back to the original design in a way where you can see their contrast against the modern tapestries. It’s a piece of art that shows a difference between the new and the old.
How do you plan on keeping The Dining Room’s win and legacy alive?
I want more people to see and experience the design. A lot of people talk about the cuisine, but I want to get people to talk more about the scenery and the heritage of what is around you as you enjoy your dining experience. The Best Design award will surely stir up more conversation and make the experience more interesting for all who come and eat here.