Stark and Effective
The tropical beaches of Hua Hin – the beach escape destination choice of Thailand’s royal family – are possibly the last places you would expect to find neo-Brutalist architecture. That’s more suited to Europe (the Barbican in London) or the USA (Boston City Hall). Yet, right next to fine sand grains and white-topped waves, here it is. Eschewing the typical tropes of wood, traditional motifs and even colour, Hotel Bocage is a unique hospitality proposition – cutting-edge architectural minimalism grafted onto a sunny slice of beach.
Hotel Bocage is boutique luxury with a capital B. Occupying the top floor of the achingly trendy Seenspace Hua Hin – a ‘community beachfront mall’ housed within an austere concrete structure – the newly-opened hotel has only six rooms (from US$233, S$317 per night). All face the ocean, with floor-to-ceiling windows allowing the saline breeze to flow past generous balconies and disperse around open plan spaces couched in a decidedly monochromatic palette. Masterminded by Thai architect Duangrit Bunnag – the brains behind Bangkok’s hipster hangout ne plus ultra the Jam Factory – the juxtaposition between his very urban, minimalist design with the balmy surroundings adds a level of cool unexpected in this decidedly more traditional seaside resort town.
It works. Culling from a huge range of grey tones – with the occasional plain white and black for effect – the chillingly sophisticated palette is something Le Corbusier would approve of. Furnishings from Italian brands like Porro (Beds), Living Divani (sofas) and Antonio Lupi (bathtubs) occupy each of the rooms, which range from 42 to 75 square metres, adding their geometric quality to a formation of clean, straight lines. The minimalism extends further than mere aesthetics – there is no in-house restaurant, gym or even spa. Rather, the hotel encourages exploration of Seenspace’s offerings below, ranging from a whole gamut of dining options, art galleries and artisan purveyors. In that sense, Hotel Bocage cannot be separated from this whole. It is supposed to be a luxury hospitality component in a modern commercial-meets-communal village that appeals to the hip, the urbane and the sophisticated. Brutalism was about creating communities, and in this little stretch of beach in Hua Hin, SeenSpace has managed to stylishly achieve just that, with Hotel Bocage perched on the very apex of that.