Old-school hipster scene
Shanti Lodge was among the first Bangkok guesthouses to go “cool” with lattes, Vivaldi, vegetarian food and no smoking back in the ’80s. It remains popular with earthy-crunchy backpackers, even if some will find the coolness contrived.
Shanti has two connected buildings: a four-floor purple concrete structure up front and a smaller wooden house out the back. The whole shebang is decked out in decor that comes straight out of the Kabul-Kathmandu-Khao San hippie-backpacker trail of yesteryear. A dark blue, green, gold and crimson palette joins yoga- and reggae-inspired art, Buddha statues and bamboo furniture.
Hidden behind some footpath greenery, a spacious open-sided restaurant and bar anchors a scene in which bearded travellers exchange stories between sips of beer, bites of Thai food and surfing sessions on the free WiFi. This chilled out common area sets Shanti apart from nearby guesthouse like Tavee, which we think offers rooms of a slightly higher standard for slightly less cash, but also has forgettable common areas.
Shanti has a hotchpotch of accommodation with a flexible pricing scheme based on number of guests and choice of fan or air-con. Solo travellers could go for a thin-mattress bunk in a dark fan-cooled mixed dorm, though we suggest opting for a proper hostel, like Born Free, if seeking a cheap bunk. As for private rooms, the least expensive “traditional” options are tiny and set in the old wooden building with thin wood and bamboo walls. These rely on partially open-air hot-water bathrooms which are shared on the ground floor.
Set in the concrete structure, larger doubles with artificial flowers, Northern Thai banners and looming Buddhas are a big step up. These bag you a lot more space and several windows to go with some brightly painted furnishings. Outfitted with bunk beds in addition to regular double beds, the family rooms can sleep up to four people—if those people are okay with huffing it up three flights of stairs. Up on the roof is a “penthouse room” opening to a private garden terrace with terracotta floors and views to the surrounding rooftops.
In addition to the restaurant, facilities include a travel agency, yoga loft and Thai massage. We’ve always found staffers a tad apathetic, though no worse than at the majority of budget guesthouses in the Khao San area.
Guests who don’t feel like lazing around Shanti all day can catch a river ferry at nearby Thewet Pier or head two kilometres south to Khao San Road. At the very least, take a walk west to grab a meal on the riverside deck at Kaloang Home, which also has some decent air-con rooms in the flashpacker range.
Since our last visit, Shanti had finally stopped being a walk-in only establishment and guests can now book through the official website. The owner’s long-running success is evidenced by younger Shanti-branded properties found on Phuket and in rural parts of Ranong and Kanchanaburi provinces.
Address: 37 Sri Ayutthaya Rd (corner of Sri Ayutthaya Soi 16), Bangkok
T: (02) 281 2497; (02) 628 7626;
Coordinates (for GPS): 100º30'12.4" E, 13º46'19.23" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Room rates: Under 600B
What we were quoted as a walk-in.
|Dorm fan cooled||250 baht||250 baht|
|Sgl fan share bathroom||400 baht||400 baht|
|Dbl fan share bathroom||500 baht||500 baht|
|Dbl air-con share bathroom||600 baht||600 baht|
|Standard single room|
|650 baht||650 baht|
|Dbl fan private bathroom||750 baht||750 baht|
|Standard double room|
|750 baht||750 baht|
|Superior single room|
|750 baht||750 baht|
|Dbl air-con private bathroom||850 baht||850 baht|
|Superior double room|
|850 baht||850 baht|
|Triple air-con private bathroom||1,200 baht||1,200 baht|
|Quad air-con private bathroom||1,400 baht||1,400 baht|
|Deluxe double room||1,950 baht||1,950 baht|
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
Our top 10 places to stay in and around Khao San Road