Hard to miss
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Best swimming pool on Khao San is a key selling point for Dang Derm Hotel, a more mature sister to D&D Inn across the street. Looming over a part of the strip known for its party scene, the sprawling yellow building arrived around 2010 and exemplifies a gradual gentrification of the backpacker hood. It’s a fine choice for a comfy room that puts you right on top of the action.
Spanning almost the entire eastern end of Khao San Road, the imposing five-storey concrete structure is done up with a fairly tasteful design that we’d perhaps call traditional Thai chic. Rooms are composed of dark hard woods, woven bamboo, terracotta tiles and Thai-cotton axe pillows. Firm mattresses with good linens are placed on slightly raised platforms, and the spacious hot-water bathrooms are better than we’d expect.
Accessed by a lift and key-card locks, all rooms are equipped with TVs, mini-fridges, free WiFi, electronic safes and air-con. Security here is solid. Many of the front-facing rooms also come with private balconies that are great for people watching, but these can be very noisy until the nearby bars close up around 02:00. Rooms towards the back are quieter but also darker. The cheapest editions face across a narrow gap and into a neighbouring room’s window.
The rooms we peeped at were very well kept, though some have complained of foul smells emanating from bathroom drains. Interior setups are very similar in all but the priciest superior, which bags you more windows and a huge partitioned living space with desk and daybed on glossy white tile floors. Included Western breakfasts are served buffet style in the “Italian-Thai” Greens & Cheese Restaurant.
Value-wise, Dang Derm’s digs are slightly sub par compared to other Khao San flashpacker mainstays, like Rikka Inn and Buddy Lodge, but its swimming pool is far and away superior. In addition to the good-size pool, the massive rooftop features a bar and deck with recliners, tables, wicker sofas and even a few trees. The atmosphere is great for kicking back with a few drinks before hitting the town.
Down on the first two floors, the building is still a work in progress. Reception is decked out with the same dark colours found upstairs, but the adjacent halls can feel like a parking garage with no cars. We reckon they’ll eventually fill in with the usual travel offices, massage shops and tailors. We’ve found staff to be more polite and professional than at D&D.
Rates at Dang Derm are more or less fixed whether you walk in, book through the hotel’s website or a third-party booking site. Discounts of up to 250 baht can be scored on last-minute rooms (especially in low season) and if you book well in advance. This is certainly a good choice if you want an easy-to-find hotel, though we’re not sure how it managed to score the address 1 Khao San Road when it isn’t at the start of the road!
While Dang Derm is well-suited to flashpacking couples and groups seeking a central Khao San location, solo travellers might feel out of place and families will no doubt find it too noisy. If you’re after an air-con room with extra comforts for a bit cheaper, the much older (but recently renovated) D&D charges a bit less for smaller bathrooms, a far smaller pool and less-interesting design.
Check rates at Dang Derm - rated 7.4/10 on Agoda.com.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 3rd February, 2016.