Our favorite room in Bangkok is not the most luxurious . . . or the best value . . . or the most traditional . . . or the most chic. But give us a $150 budget and ask where in the Thai capital we’d want to stay and we wouldn’t hesitate with our answer: the Garden Suite at the Arun Residence hotel.
The room’s most superlative feature: The view! From the comfort of lounge furniture on the suite’s foliage-rich private deck you can gaze out upon the bustle of the Chaopraya River and the allure of the Temple of the Dawn on the river’s far bank. We greatly appreciate hotel rooms that remind us where we are, that aren’t cookie-cutter versions of the sorts of rooms that can be found in any number of other cities. And the view from the Arun Residence Garden Suite, well, it screams Bangkok!
The Garden Suite (also, and confusingly, referred to by the hotel as the Arun Suite) also has a comfy king futon bed, rich wooden floors, free wireless internet, a flatscreen TV, a mini-stereo with an iPod dock and three living areas separated by glass French doors. The suite is perched at the top of the Arun Residence, up a private stair case, and so staying here doesn’t have a hotel feel; it feels like you are in your own rustic sky sanctuary above the Bangkok chaos.
As for the Arun Residence itself, it is in a Sino-Portuguese styled boutique hotel. There are only six rooms, and nearly three times as many staff members. The hotel has two other suites and three rooms—among those we’re partial to the airy split-level Lotus room.
Being so small the Arun Residence doesn’t have its own pool (guests can use the one next door). The hotel does have a lovely pub and bi-level French-Thai restaurant—both have river views and are well worth a visit even if you aren’t staying here. The hotel also has a cozy library that servers complimentary tea and coffee throughout the day. Rates include breakfast.
The Arun Residence is tucked into a back street next to a river jerry in one of the most central and historic areas of Bangkok. (Not incidentally, when selecting a Bangkok hotel we suggest giving great deference to properties on the river, partly because it is so scenic, partly because river boat is one of the most efficient and fun ways to get around the city). The only downside of the Arun Residence’s location is that it can be a bit difficult to find on your first trip there; click here to download a printable map to give to your taxi driver.
More photos of the Arun Residence is at the bottom of this post.
A Few Other Cool Bangkok Hotel Options
Recognizing that the Arun Residence suite might not be everyone’s favorite Bangkok hotel room, some other selections in various categories . . .
There’s no shortage of high-end hotels in Bangkok. Two of our favorites, both because of their level of luxury and because of their convenient riverside locations, are The Peninsula Bangkok and The Mandarin Oriental; both hotels are routinely mentioned as being among the best in the world.
The Shangri-La Hotel is also by the river. The luxury level here is notch below the Peninsula and Oriental (which is to say it is still outrageously nice) but the price can be several notches lower—as low as $170/night for a room.
Away from the river, in more of an embassy-business area of Bangkok, is the Thai-tinged Sukhothai. Check out their (relatively) reasonably-priced yet opulent executive suites.
Staying at the The Eugenia is more like staying in a private mansion than a hotel. They provide sophisticated service for the guests staying in their 12 rooms.
The Phranakorn Nornlen is another small off-the-beaten-path gem of a boutique hotel. It has hippy-inspired vegetarian restaurant and has a more arty aesthetic than the Eugenia.
The Dream Hotel is the sister property of hip New York City hotel of the same name. Dream is neon-laden and has a modern-cool vibe that mostly manages to avoid being funky for the sake of it. Every now and then we see rooms here for as low as $80 on hotels.com—jump on that rate when you find the same.
At the chic-minimalist Luxx boutique hotel rooms that would cost over $200 a night in Singapore or Sydney go for as low as $60! Plus, book through Spot Cool Stuff and with a Mr. & Mrs Smith Membership Card and your get a complimentary half-day city tour to any area attraction(s) of your choice. The cheapest rooms at Luxx are rather small and have glass doors separating the bedroom from the bathroom (and so are not for those who are shy around their room mate) but even these rooms have rich wood floors and a Luxx trademark freestanding wood tub. Upgraded rooms offer more privacy and space.
As little as $22 will book you a cool Smart Suite in the fashionable Sukhumvit area of Bangkok. The Smart Suite property looks somewhat like a $22-a-night hotel from the outside but don’t let that put you off—it is modern and amenity-filled on the inside.
Ground zero for cheap Bangkok hotels is Khao San Road. Our favorite KSR-area hotel is the Viengtai. At $25ish per night it is far from the cheapest option in this backpacker-oriented part of Bangkok. But then the Viengtai is not only cockroach free (which is not the given you might imagine around Khao San Road) but also has a pool, friendly staff, clean comfortable beds and some modern amenities you’d expect to find at a much more expensive hotel. We also appreciate its quiet location a block away from KSR. The Viengtai is a superb choice for traveling families.
Also near Khao San, and also cockroach-free, is the Sinad Guesthouse. Rooms come with a TV, internet and hot shower but are otherwise rather basic. You won’t find your stay here remarkable until you get your bill: singles start at $5 and doubles around $4 per person!
Photos of (or from) the Arun Residence Suite
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