Unpretentious good value
64 Samsen Road (between Soi 2 and Soi 4), Bangkok T: (087) 502 0520, (091) 031 2310
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Located a 10-minute walk from Khao San Road, Samsen Skyline Hostel aims for friendliness over trendiness and value over style. You won’t find glossy entertainment rooms or uniformed staff at Skyline, but it’s a solid choice for backpackers seeking a cheap and casual place to stay.
An easy walk north of Khao San’s western end, south of the Dusit palaces, and east of the Chao Phraya river and Phra Arthit express boat pier, the hostel occupies an old concrete shophouse on bustling Samsen Road. This is a fairly busy thoroughfare so some traffic noise should be expected.
Unlike some hostels set in similar structures, Skyline has preserved the feel of a plain Thai-style townhouse. Decor is minimal and style largely nonexistent, though we feel this is part of what gives Skyline its charm. We’re not big into the fake wood panel floors in some rooms, but the 100% non-pretentious vibe is welcome.
Speaking of which, this was one of the friendliest staffs we’ve encountered in Southeast Asia. The young and helpful receptionist spoke perfect English, and all of the other staff members flashed us warm smiles as they worked — or casually hung around with guests. Before turning their house into a hostel, the family-in-charge focused on a nondescript khao gaeng (curry and rice) shop run out of the ground floor.
And why stop now? Guests and passersby can still enjoy rice piled high with authentic Thai curries, stir-fries and salads for just 30 baht a plate. It sure beats the “American breakfasts” that go for 100 baht at many hostels. With a few wooden tables, light violet walls and a flatscreen TV, the ground-floor lobby/restaurant has the casual feel of a local’s living room. Atop the sixth floor, a wide terrace has a few tables with plastic stools, potted plants, a spirit house and some great panoramic views of the city.
Skyline has a refreshingly simple policy when it comes to rates: 250 baht per head. Period. Solo travellers can rest up in a spacious six-bed mixed dorm, couples might kick back in a private double, pairs can take a small room with one bunk bed, and groups can fill up the triple or quad, but everyone pays the same amount. This is the first hostel we’ve encountered with such a straightforward pricing system.
Note however that on the hostel’s website, the per person rate is listed 50 baht higher than what we were quoted as walk-ins. If they actually charge 300 baht per person without adding some upgrades, the value would go from “pretty good” to “just okay”.
All rooms are air-conditioned, many are spacious, and cleanliness is well looked after. While there are no dedicated female- or male-only rooms, those who are more comfortable staying with members of the same sex can often be accommodated in one of the smaller rooms.
The six-bed room comes with four single beds spaced a good distance from the next, and one bunk bed pushed against a quirky wall-size window lined with designs that resemble the Mercedes Benz logo. Mattresses are firm. Apart from cheap make-up desks with mirrors, the rooms lack furnishings, though they all receive a lot of natural light.
On each floor, shared bathrooms are basic Asian wet editions with a toilet placed next to the shower in the same room. Some do not have sinks, though we were told that renovations planned for the near future will correct this while generally rendering the bathrooms more comfortable. Lockers and laundry facilities are available, free WiFi works on the ground floor, and key-cards are required to enter the hostel after hours. Staff made it clear that the place just opened in mid-2013; it’s still a work in progress.
Due to the small size, Skyline is better suited to travellers seeking a simple place to lay their heads rather than those who hope to meet and mix. On the other hand, budget-minded groups could grab some cheap beer and have a “private” gathering on the rooftop. Other popular hostels in this area include the more stylish NapPark and Suneta, and the homely Rang Kha Mhin, Baan Bavorn and Khaosan Immjai.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 1st October, 2014.