Luxurious hostel far from the action
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Refill Now! is no ordinary hostel. From the ground-floor hangout zone that feels like it could be in a pricey boutique hotel, to the mini swimming pool, to the thoughtful info packets given to all guests and the swish immaculate dorms, this place does not cut any corners. But is it for everyone?
The purpose-built four-storey building features a very spacious open-air ground floor reception/cafe/restaurant/bar/lounge with a foosball table, reading area, several computers, leather sofas and semi-private wooden tables engulfed in tropical foliage. The kitchen whips up a good mix of Pan-Asian, Thai, Italian and other Western fare, with several vegetarian options and hearty breakfasts available. The bar is no joke either, serving bloody Marys and beer with a shot of cherry brandy dropped inside until midnight. The coffee is high quality too.
Wander into the hostel’s spacious backyard and you’ll find a small but inviting splash pool with more tropical palms and several lounge chairs spread over a marble patio. This is the only hostel in town with a lawn, let alone a swimming pool.
Take the stairs to the second floor and you enter a sleek minimalist design that incorporates sparkling clean white floors, polished white metal frames and white stained-glass doors opening to shared male and female bathrooms that made us imagine what the facilities might look like on a spaceship in the year 2500. The building’s exterior is made almost entirely of slightly tinted glass, allowing loads of natural light to flow in. With the exception of the ground floor, the whole building is air-conditioned.
Dorms come in mixed and female-only varieties, each with six beds. While the rooms aren’t huge, they are perfectly formed with super comfy mattresses covered in fresh clean sheets on white metal frames. Each bunk comes with privacy curtain, private reading lamp and electrical outlet. Plus-size lockers are located outside of the rooms near the bathrooms. We were quoted 350 baht as walk-ins; note that rates for dorms and private rooms are significantly higher on Refill Now’s website, but cheaper when we checked on Agoda.com.
At 800 baht for a solo traveller or 1,000 for two, the standard private rooms are perhaps not worth the asking price. Though perfectly clean and comfortable, they are small and have only a mattress on the floor with no extras (other than air-con) or ensuite bathroom.
If you’ve more cash to spend, upper floor loft rooms are massive and equipped with vintage sofas, coffee tables and bureaus, modern lighting, dreamy beds with comforters, ensuite bathrooms and white wicker chairs overlooking the surrounding area through those walls-size windows. Double loft rooms go for 2,000 baht, the triple fetches 2,800 and a quad family edition comes in at 3,800.
By now you’re probably asking, “What’s the catch?” For some, it will no doubt be the location. Refill Now! is situated in a quiet residential area, about a kilometre off Pridi Banomyang Road (aka Sukhumvit Soi 71), fairly far out in Bangkok’s southeastern reaches. The address is not on a soi (sidestreet) but a yak (side street off of a side street). We had a difficult time finding the place, and the website’s lack of clear directions/maps didn’t help. Be warned that a search on Google Maps inaccurately places the hostel near Asok BTS station, which is not even close to the actual location.
It really does feel like you’re staying a world away from central Bangkok, but in reality, Refill Now! is only a 15-minute walk to either Ramkamhaeng Airport Rail Link station or Khlong Tan pier on the San Saeb express boat line. Sukhumvit Road and Phra Khanong BTS skytrain station are 3.5 kilometres away — a motorbike taxi can get you here for 40 baht or a taxi for around 60, depending on traffic.
Excepting the hostel website’s poor location info, Refill Now’s hip young staff do their best to make the relatively distant location a non-issue. They hand out some very well-put-together info sheets with basic maps and decent directions for reaching the nearest public transport options (now they just need to put those directions on the website). A free tuk tuk shuttle service to the skytrain is also offered daily from 7:00 to 15:00.
On the bright side, reaching points of interest in eastern Bangkok like BatCat museum, Suan Luang Rama IX and Kwam Riam floating market would be easier from here than central Bangkok, and Suvarnabhumi airport is practically a straight 20 kilometre shot along a raised motorway. Closer to the hostel, a good nearby night market gets rolling every evening around 17:00, and Pridi Road itself is a pleasant enough affair with lots of cheap local restaurants and convenience stores.
Some might find the area to have an “authentic Thai” appeal; others would say it’s in the middle of nowhere. In any case, you won’t find another hostel like Refill Now! in Bangkok.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 3rd February, 2016.