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Built in 1962 and once a favourite of American servicemen on R&R, the Reno Hotel‘s endearingly retro facade gives way to refurbished rooms that look a lot fresher than they used to. While certain types of travellers will appreciate the vintage appeal, anyone will be psyched with the terrific location and completely unexpected swimming pool.
The Reno’s peach-orange facade with big circular mirrors on the doorways lends the feel of a restaurant/casino where mobsters might have hung out in Reno, Nevada, back in the ’60s. Step into the marble-floor lobby and you re-enter 21st century Bangkok thanks to modern sofas and a spacious cafe where basic complementary breakfasts are served. Unlike other old-school hotels, like The Atlanta, the Reno’s owners have preserved the retro touches while successfully shedding a tired old atmosphere.
Free on the ground floor at any time, WiFi is annoyingly available for only two hours per day in the rooms, after which point you have to pay by the minute. “Out of order” signs were taped onto two shared computers when we passed through the lobby. If this outdated internet policy leaves you steaming, go cool off in the mid-size swimming pool rimmed by loungers and a garden in a quiet corner of the property.
Of the 58 rooms accessed by broad marble stairs, the cheapest “deluxe” edition comes with utilitarian white-tile floors, high ceilings, wide glass windows with thick purple drapes, firm beds, hot-water bathrooms with tubs, small TVs, desks, mini-fridges and safes. The one we checked out smelled strongly of cigarette smoke, so be sure to ask for a no-smoking room if that bothers you.
We also peeped into a “mini suite” that was probably worth the extra 500 baht thanks to a much fresher scent and more space, glossy wood floors, LCD TV and unfurnished balcony overlooking the pool. A little more cash could get you the slightly larger “junior suite” or a triple room that might do the trick for families. All rooms represent decent value considering the pool and great location, though backpackers will miss the days when the Reno was a stuffy old budget hotel.
The well-dressed staff speak limited English and don’t have the best reputation for service, but the central location means that you probably won’t need much help getting around. The Reno is around the corner from National Stadium BTS station and within a five- to 10-minute walk of Hua Chang khlong boat pier, Jim Thompson’s House, Baan Krua Nua silk village, BACC, MBK and the rest of Siam Square. If you feel like going for a run or practising your high dive, the National Stadium complex sprawls on the other side of Rama I Road.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 29th June, 2015.