Classy flashpacker option
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Dominating the far eastern end of Khao San Road, Buddy Lodge is a large, comfortable and popular hotel that’s been around for many years. The location is central, room decor unexpectedly classy and value excellent if you book online. A rooftop swimming pool and fitness centre sweeten the deal.
Buddy Group’s flagship location occupies an imposing brick building that also houses a streetside sports bar, Brick Bar nightclub in back, McDonalds, Coffee World and multiple cafes, tattoo shops, silver dealers, tailors, travel offices and ATMs. We often swing through just to use the five-baht public restroom. Tuk tuks and touts await on the street out front, reception hidden towards the rear.
Accessed by a lift, the 74 rooms successfully capture the feel of colonial-era Bangkok. Soft queen mattresses with quality linens lie on four-poster wood frames draped in mosquito nets that are more for show than function. Shiny hardwood floors are complimented by cream-coloured walls, antique-ish lamps with green glass shades and desks that look like they should have feather pens dipped in ink wells on top.
The spacious and clean rooms also bag you air-con, hot-water bathrooms and flatscreen TVs on the walls. Electronic safes and mini-fridges are stowed in separate tile-floored areas by the front doors. Minibars include a notably wide selection of whiskey among beer and soda. Tall louvered doors open on to balconies, with those on higher floors affording views beyond the building next door.
Though several raucous bars are just a few steps away, rooms stay quiet thanks to thick walls and a location just back from the strip. This is one of few places to stay, right on Khao San, where you can expect a good night’s sleep even if retiring early.
Better views, king-size beds and coffee/tea facilities are all that differentiate deluxe rooms from superiors, though the yellow-coat-donning man who showed us around misleadingly told us that all rooms are exactly the same. Staff are hit and miss; that guy seemed annoyed to show us a room, but a young Thai woman and Western man were both helpful and friendly in reception.
Yellow-coat man quoted us a very pricey rack rate when we inquired as walk-ins, but another worker hinted that we’d be better off booking online. On the hotel’s own website and third-party booking sites, we’ve consistently found rooms for less than half the walk-in rates – very competitive value for the quality of accommodation. Opt out of the included breakfast, which we’ve heard is lacklustre, and save another 300 baht.
The good value holds especially true when you consider Buddy’s decent rooftop swimming pool and bar. You’ll also find one of the largest fitness centres in the area along with a tour office promoting a goofy night tour by tram. Just up the street is Buddy Beer, a new-as-of-2015 bar/restaurant that continues with an Old Siam theme, recreated as tastefully as could be hoped for.
In late 2014, the Buddy group also opened Buddy Boutique Inn off central Khao San. Prices are a bit higher here and we found the polished concrete rooms, dubbed “modish” by the brochure, to be less inviting than those at Buddy Lodge. Still, it’s another cushy option and guests can use the pool and other facilities at the original.
Other comfortable options on Khao San Road itself include Baan Chart, Rikka Inn and Dang Derm. If you’re inspired by the Old Siam theme, you might opt to stay in an actual heritage building at a B&B that’s in the historic district but not right on Khao San. In that category, Baan Tepa, Baan Manusarn, Baan Noppawong and Old Bangkok Inn are all excellent.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 26th January, 2015.