18-20 Phra Arthit Rd, Bangkok T: (02) 280 3315, (02) 629 0462 F: (02) 629 1376
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If you don’t mind a complete lack of bells and whistles, New Merry V Guest House on Phra Arthit Road remains one of the Khao San area’s better budget spots despite its well-worn appearance. You can choose between spartan fan rooms up front and surprisingly bright air-con editions in a second building out back. Both are cleaner than most dirt cheap options in this part of town.
The bland four-storey concrete building up front is marked only by a simple sign, making it clear that this is no boutique hotel. Reception is located in a dark room away from the road, with the cheapest rooms upstairs. Air-con editions are set back in a second building, also accessed via stairs after you stroll through a sparse room that would make a good common area if they just added some tables.
The cheapest fan rooms come with nothing more than a firm bed with clean white linens, ceiling fan, fluorescent light and window. These rely on shared cold-water bathrooms located at the centre of each dark and drab floor; dim light made it hard to tell how clean they were. No electrical outlets are found on the tile walls but devices can be charged in the corridor. Many of these rooms are located at the front of the property near a shared balcony, where morning traffic noise and late-night music from the neighbouring bars can be an issue.
A bit more cash gets you a similarly cramped fan room placed further from the front of the building and equipped with a tiny private bathroom and one outlet. Several variations on these no-frills fan rooms are available, including triples and two twin beds for the same price as one double bed. While we did notice some moisture marks on the walls, the fan rooms appeared better kept than many others in this very low price range.
Much better are the air-con rooms located in the back of the second building, resulting in a much quieter night’s sleep. Along with walls painted light tan in place of the jail-cell-esque white tiles in the cheaper rooms, the 590-baht rooms come with unexpectedly large glass windows that can be opened for fresh air. Though the view of a neighbouring building is not picturesque, plenty of sunlight keep the rooms bright. TVs with English movie channels, soft beds, desks, outlets and larger private bathrooms are also included.
The guesthouse is run by a family that seems to care more than most Khao San area staffs. In a really cheap place like this, you can’t expect WiFi to work perfectly on upper floors (it worked for us in the lobby) and bedding to be changed daily by cheerful cleaners. But if you’re accustomed to simple accommodation and prefer to stay on Phra Arthit rather than Khao San or Rambutri, look no further.
While the guesthouse itself lacks common space, the stylish Ricky’s Coffee Shop is tucked into the building’s entrance and serves great sandwiches, coffee and smoothies. Many other great eating, drinking and live music venues, like Bar Bali and Roti Mataba, are an easy stroll away along the increasingly trendy Phra Arthit Road. A Chao Phraya Express Boat pier is a stone’s throw away, and Khao San takes no more than 10 minutes on foot.
The New Merry V has no online presence apart from an email address, but it’s unlikely you’ll have trouble grabbing a room as a walk in. Other good budget options in the immediate vicinity include Apple Guesthouse, the original Merry V, Lamphu House and BB House.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 8th February, 2015.