Classy digs at Democracy Monument
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Opened at the tail end of 2012, Baan Dinso at Ratchadamnoen is situated at the heart of Bangkok’s historic district and has spotless, elegant rooms directly overlooking Democracy Monument.
The new sister establishment of the original Baan Dinso, a short walk away down Dinso Road, Baan Dinso at Ratchadamnoen occupies a freshly renovated four-storey building that used to house a pharmacy. It directly faces the south side of Democracy Monument, and the designers took full advantage of this distinctive view by placing wall-length windows in all north-facing rooms and common areas. The building is air-con throughout, and despite the constant traffic that circles the monument, bright interior spaces stay hushed and peaceful thanks to an airtight design.
As for location, the hotel sits smack in the centre of the historical district; in fact, Democracy Monument is officially considered “Kilometre Zero” by the Thai Highways Department, or the point from which distances to all other parts of the city and country are measured. Khao San Road, Phra Arthit express boat pier and a host of Bangkok’s most important sights are within walking distance. Some of the city’s best cheap food is also available from street vendors and hole-in-the-wall shops throughout this colourful neighbourhood.
The hotel itself has an understated and elegant Japanese-Thai aesthetic. Wide windows bathe clean white walls and polished hardwood and tile floors with natural light. Generous common spaces on every floor feature large desks and floor cushions with Democracy Monument views. Tiny outdoor decks are put to optimal use with loads of potted plants and tables. Thought-provoking books and magazines occupy shelves shared with Japanese kimono dolls and ceramics. Even the bright back-facing hallways beg to be strolled leisurely through thanks to big, colourful Japanese prints spaced between enormous windows.
Though tastefully decorated, spotless and each with one large window to go with a TV and soft single bed, single rooms are just large enough to accommodate a solo traveller, and ample bathrooms are shared for all singles as well as standard twins. At 1,000 baht per night for a single facing the monument or 900 for those in back, these aren’t exactly a bargain, but they should fit the bill for flashpackers keen on having a comfortable and private space nearby but not right on Khao San Road.
Double rooms at 1,800 and 1,600 baht depending on view have two single beds and are similarly “cosy”. If considering only the rooms, both the standard singles and doubles don’t offer great value but the inviting common spaces do much to offset tight in-room quarters, and it’s not as though you’ll find this view elsewhere.
If your price range is a bit higher, Baan Dinso’s deluxe and grand deluxe rooms offer fantastic value for the money, coming in at 2,200 and 2,500 baht respectively. Set on the top floor, these boast plenty of space, wall-size windows overlooking the monument, hardwood floors with elegant Thai silk pillows on floor cushions and carefully placed soft carpets, dark wood furnishings including large desks, soft bed-side Japanese lanterns, prints of traditional Thai mosaic art or old Bangkok street scenes on Thai style wood paneled walls, fridges, TVs and classy marble floor bathrooms with paw-footed tubs. In amenities, views and design, these rival what you’ll pay 7,000 baht and up for at Bangkok’s most prestigious hotels.
WiFi and breakfast are included in all rates, and a few communal computers are offered in the corner of a spacious ground floor cafe that serves salads, sandwiches, cake and excellent coffee from morning till late afternoon. With less than 30 rooms in total, the hotel has a homely atmosphere complimented by a relaxed, cheerful and helpful staff. Though not a proper hostel (no dorms offered here), Baan Dinso operates under the Hosteling International banner — it’s a great place to meet other travellers, perhaps those who are a bit older and with more refined tastes than many of the budget backpackers who swarm to Khao San.
Though it lacks the Democracy Monument views and extremely easy-to-find location, the original Baan Dinso Hostel (though again, not a proper hostel) is set at the end of a quiet sidestreet around the corner and offers 11 similarly priced, spaced and appointed rooms in a renovated early last century house. Guests at either can take part in a free cooking course offered every Wednesday.
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By David Luekens
Last updated on 3rd February, 2016.