When Siam opened to foreign trade after the signing of the Bowring Treaty the sailors that manned the ships which conveyed this trade though Bangkok required accommodation on shore. To meet this demand, Captain Dyers, an American and his partner J.E. Barnes opened a hotel called the Oriental Hotel. This burnt down in 1865.
Several years later a partnership of Danish captains opened a replacement hotel. In the 1970s the board of the Oriental Hotel decided with the opening of the new River Wing, upon 1876 as the official establishment date of the Oriental Hotel.
At the end of the war a six-person partnership each contributed US$250 to buy the hotel. The partnership consisted of Germaine Krull (1897–1985), Prince Bhanu, General Chai Prateepasen, Pote Sarasin (a Thai lawyer) and John Webster and Jim Thompson, two Americans who had served in the Organization for Strategic Security (OSS) and who had stayed on in Thailand. Krull took the position of manager in 1947, despite no prior experience in the hotel field. Born in Poland, she had been best known as a photographer during the 1920s before service in the Pacific as a war correspondent for Agence France Presse. Badly run down after its wartime service, the partnership immediately began restoration and restocking of the hotel which offered to put Thompson’s an opportunity to use his architectural and artistic abilities.
The hotel reopened for business on 12 June 1947. Krull turned out to be a natural hotelier and during her reign restored the hotel to it position as the premier hotel in Thailand. Thompson soon left the partnership over a plan to build a new wing, though he stayed on in residence at the hotel for some time. To compete with popular clubs and a new local bar called Chez Eve, Krull established the Bamboo Bar, which soon became one of the leading bars in Bangkok .
In 1958 the ten-storey Garden Wing was built. It featured the city’s first elevator and was home to the Le Normandie Restaurant. In 1967, fearful that Thailand would fall to the communists, Krull sold her share to Italthai which at the time was well on its way to becoming one of the country’s most significant mercantile groups eventually totally some 60 companies involved in almost all aspects of the Thai economy.