Charming rooms in a restored merchant house
Set at the junction of Chinatown’s decidedly trendy Soi Nana and major thoroughfare Rama I, 103 Bed and Brews delivers a mixed collection of charming and tasteful rooms in a renovated shophouse building.
Not to be confused with the considerably more downmarket Soi Nana running off Sukhumvit (though both areas are owned by the same family), Soi Nana in Chinatown has led the way in a slow burning gentrification of a small slither of Bangkok’s Chinatown. 103 Bed and Brews is the first of what we hope will be a selection of boutique properties in a part of Bangkok yet to give itself totally over to shards of forgettable glass and brass. We liked it here a lot.
The building was originally the home and business place of a Chinese merchant who blended and sold traditional herbal remedies and medicines to the working class Chinese migrants who had settled in the area. Set on a corner between the quiet (at least in the daytime hours) Soi Nana and the busy Rama I road, the property is given over to a cafe on the ground floor, with a handful of rooms scattered across the floors above, with a (sadly under-utilised when we stayed) roof terrace up top.
The intersection is not square, and when combined with the structure of the building, it has made for some uneven variation between the rooms—pick and choose with care. Rooms come with large glass windows which refreshingly can by opened to allow the sounds of Chinatown (of which there are plenty) to roll into the room. Many rooms catch the full brunt of the late afternoon sun, but rattan blinds are fitted throughout and allow just a dapple of light to filter through. Note also that not all rooms have a bathroom inside the room—some have a separate bathroom across the hallway (just for you, not shared).
Our first night was spent in an upper floor, loft style room—we loved the corner balcony, which, while too small to fit a seat on, gave us a great vantage point to watch over the street below. Suitable for a single traveller or a close couple, the room is of a curious shape and while they’ve made the best of limited space, we did feel the ladder to the loft sleeping area to be uncomfortably steep.
On the other hand we enjoyed the lazy sofa on the lower floor, where we lounged as the late afternoon light flooded into the room. At the time of booking we didn’t realise that, while not shared, the bathroom for this room was across the corridor from the bedroom—on the hotel’s website they distinguish this by referring to ensuite and private bathrooms, where the latter is across the hallway—we missed this finer point. It wasn’t a big deal, but it was a surprise.
The second night we moved to a far larger room one floor below, and this was spectacular value. While it lacked a veranda, the room was far more spacious, with a large and very comfortable bed with plenty of pillows and a reading light, a “sink into it” sofa, plenty of windows for light to flood in, and its own bathroom—no prancing across the hallway in a towel required. Costing just over 100 baht more (when booked through an online agent), the room was more comfortable in almost every way, and we loved the exposed wooden beams in the ceiling—note though, you will hear the people upstairs walking around. One minor complaint was the blinds had not been strung properly (or had been unstrung by a previous clueless guest) so we could’t open them. Which brings us to the staff.
On the ground floor of the hotel there is a cafe which does coffee, a small selection of craft brews and where the light breakfast is served. The staff are friendly, but they seemed far more adept (and interested) at running the cafe than looking after guest enquiries. When we asked about the above mentioned blinds issue, we were told to wait till the manager was on site, similarly when we asked about WiFi connectivity (which we had so many problems with we just tethered to our phone), again, can you wait for the manager. Always polite and friendly, but we feel some better training and/or delegation would pay off handsomely.
Overall though, we really enjoyed our stay—we loved the larger room, and the location, especially for those looking to explore this increasingly trendy boozing area of Bangkok, is superb. Reservations are close to essential. If you’re looking for something more traditional in Chinatown, look no further than Shanghai Mansion Bangkok while if you’d prefer something with character on the river, we love Loy La Long.
Address: 103 Soi Nana, Chinatown
T: (02) 090 1103;
Coordinates (for GPS): 100º30'50.18" E, 13º44'21.34" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Room rates: 1,500B to 4,000B
What we were quoted as a walk-in.
|Standard double room||1,300 baht||1,300 baht|
|Superior double room||1,500 baht||1,500 baht|
|Deluxe double room||2,000 baht||2,000 baht|
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
Our top 10 places to stay in and around Chinatown