Last Updated on January 25, 2012 by Jess
Welcome to our Hotel Tip of The Week series. Being on the road every day of the year means we stay in countless hotels, and at over 600 days as nomads, we have stayed some of the best (and worst) accommodation the world has to offer. We cover everything from budget to luxury accommodation, and believe that any hotel worth recommending must be comfortable and clean, offer good value for money and treat people as guests, not clients. We have personally stayed in every hotel we recommend to you here on Globetrottergirls.com.
I haven’t even taken my bag from the trunk of the taxi yet, and already there is a woman behind me who wants to take it for me.
‘You stay at this hotel, here, with us?’ she asks. ‘Yes, yes we are staying here,’ I say with a surprised smile. I want to continue by saying… but my bag weighs more than you do, you adorably tiny Thai lady, but instead I just say ‘Don’t worry, I’ll bring the bag inside’.
Dani does the same, and we pass under Spanish moss and hanging plants that decorate this small part of an otherwise busy side street on our way inside the Old Bangkok Inn.
As the name suggests, we are staying at a small, cozy typically Thai Inn (just getting our big western bodies and backpacks through the two slim dark wooden front doors is a challenge) and from the minute we walk in, I am sure we are going to love the place.
There is no lobby, just six or seven round wooden tables, antique sofas and an eclectic mix of traditional Thai knick knacks and paintings. The room is bright, thanks to two picture windows on either side of the door, and we sit down while we check in, sipping the cool glass of sweet tea customary at most quality Thai hotels.
Outside, motorcycles buzz by like bees, buses with squealing brakes stop just out front and the bright pink or yellow taxis whiz by on their way to drop off or pick up a fare. Almost entirely silent, just enough noise comes through to remind us how quiet it actually is, just a few feet from Bangkok’s constant chaos outside, forming the undertones below comfortable classical music pumped in nonchalantly at a level high enough to enjoy, and easy enough to ignore.
Our room is through another set of slim wooden doors and up the stairs, and there are three similar rooms upstairs and four on the ground floor. Immediately I am struck by the fact that the room has two single beds (an issue we are constantly going through as most hotels see us as two friends, not as a couple), the typical Thai decor and the low hanging antique-looking candelabra chandeliers, one between the bed, the other hanging over a third mattress/couch on the floor, which is right below a set of large double windows. A computer monitor on an antique desk unit at the head of the beds serves as a TV and computer – there is broadband internet on the computer, but no wi-fi. The weekly weather forecast is tucked in right by the three remote controls (TV, DVD and Air-Con), so that it can’t be missed.
The bathroom is lovely, with a pedestal sink, the shower has organic body soap and shampoo in gorgeous ceramic containers, and there is also an adorable pillow with thread and needles, an original spin on the standard hotel room sewing kit that makes us want to have an excuse to sew something.
The reason we were interested in the Old Bangkok Inn initially was for the hotel’s eco-friendly policies, which were plain to see throughout the room. As part of the Texas based Green Hotels scheme, the hotel has put eco-friendly policies into place. For example, water comes in a large glass serving vase with a note explaining just how many gallons of oil are used to produce plastic water bottles each year. Toiletries are in re-usable bottles, and towels are requested to be hung up unless we want to have them washed.
Warning: this next part is nitpicky, but there are two tiny details in the room I really appreciate. First, there are hooks everywhere: five in the bathroom and a few on the walls throughout the room. Second, there are light switches everywhere, so that I don’t have to shut off the lights and night and stumble back into bed, or wake up entirely in the dark. Both of these things might seem small, but it means that thought has actually been given to the guest experience – not just the decor, the design, and the end profit.
On the downside, the regular rooms feel a bit small. For a higher nightly rate, there are two incredible suites at the Old Bangkok Inn which afford guests a much more regal experience. We are able to peek into the Lotus suite the next morning – the Honeymoon suite was booked. The suites have large double beds set in the middle of spacious, intricately decorated room. A walkway through to the huge, tiled outdoor bathtub also serves as a luxurious indoor/outdoor shower experience. Up a small flight of stairs is a lofted second ‘bedroom’ of sorts, making this suite perfect for families with children.
Stand Out Feature: Thai traditional theme
The Old Bangkok Inn has plenty of great features that stand out, but overall it was the execution of the theme from start to finish. The look and feel, with wooden paneling, antique furniture, beautiful Thai paintings, allows guests to really soak up a traditional side of Thailand that is hard to come by in the metropolis that is Bangkok, in addition to providing a truly peaceful escape from the noise outside.
Stand Out Feature: Breakfast
One specific Stand Out feature of the hotel is the breakfast, which was simple and truly delightful. In addition to the choice of egg/meat/bread breakfasts, there is practically a buffet of exotic fruits – from small bananas and juicy mandarins to mangoes, pomegranate, mangosteens, Chinese pears, dragon fruit, and plenty of others we have seen but can’t name. One of the hotel owners, a polite older gentleman, even has a book with all the Thai fruits in order to show foreign guests just what they are eating and what it is called. As a side note, the eggs I order with my brown bread are also scrambled to perfection.
Regardless as to whether guests are here for business or pleasure, free in-room wi-fi is simply a must in a capital city like Bangkok, especially considering there was perfectly good quality wi-fi in the main lobby. Why not just extend it to the whole hotel? There were at least four guests in addition to us forced to bring laptops down to sit at the tables and use the wi-fi. While the in-room internet connection on the computer was a nice touch, our computers and smartphones are packed with personal information not available on a generic hotel computer – from work-related materials for business travelers, to travel info, tour guides and personal emails for holidaymakers.
Room for Improvement: Bed Quality
For some reason, mattresses in Thailand tend to be rock hard, but my bed was more unforgiving than most. On the other hand, Dani had a great night’s sleep in her single bed.
There are hundreds of hotels in this middle price range in Bangkok and the quality varies extremely between the best and the worst rip-offs. What we enjoyed so much about the Old Bangkok Inn is the value for money: clean, well-decorated rooms, traditional Thai atmosphere, impeccable service and delicious breakfast – along with the total peace and quiet in the center of Bangkok’s busiest area.
Location: 607 Pra Sumen Road, Pra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Price: Starting at 3,190BHT/$100 per double room
LGBT Friendly: Not outwardly
Digital Nomad Friendly: without in-room wi-fi, unfortunately not
Amenities: Complimentary breakfast, free wi-fi in the restaurant area, DVD library, daily drinking water, guide book library