Riva Surya sets the standard for luxury accommodation in the Khao San area. Rising between laid-back Phra Arthit Road and the Chao Phraya River, the mid-size hotel’s gorgeous design toes the line between modern sleekness and old-style Thai elegance. While not cheap, this is an exceptional choice for a honeymoon or end of trip splurge.
Approaching from the street entrance, security guards watched keenly (but politely) as we strolled up the slate driveway and under a banyan tree that was spared when the hotel materialised in 2012. Dark louvered wooden shutters on the sides of the six-storey concrete building contribute to a classy appearance that blends with the neighbourhood’s heritage architecture.
Open to the air on either end, lobby floors feature the sort of mosaic tiles that you expect to find in a century-old mansion. Dark-wood round tables and delicately carved wood ceiling beams were set up with symmetry in mind, and a couple of shared Apple iMacs sit ready to use on a table at the centre. Personable and polite receptionists made us feel welcome before swiftly explaining the rates and passing us over to a bellhop to check out a couple of rooms.
The cheapest “urban rooms” come with small attached balconies with views only of the tree branches and street. All other rooms overlook the pool and river beyond, each with floor-to-ceiling glass doors opening onto large tiled balconies with loveseats and a great view of the Rama VIII suspension bridge.
Employing muted greys and white to achieve a minimalist look, all rooms are outfitted with wood-and-rattan headboards to match the easy chairs, desks and floor mats. Black-and-white photos of old Bangkok set in large matted frames join spacious bathrooms with ceramic basin sinks, showers partitioned behind glass and more of the mosaic tiles.
All rooms also come with top-notch amenities: wall-mounted plasma TVs, DVD players, coffee/tea facilities, electronic safes, minibars and bathrobes. Queen- and king-size beds are luxurious and there’s plenty of space to move around. Rates climb as the views get better, with the priciest corner suites bagging you a separate sitting area and windows spanning wide parts of two walls. Though not out of the question for families and groups, Riva Surya is ideal for couples.
Set at ground level, a dashing dark-tile swimming pool is large enough to swim laps in and rimmed by wooden decks with loungers, sofas overlooking the river and a bar set further back. Two in-house dining options—Mezzanine and Babble & Rum—claim to use locally sourced organic produce for their Thai/Western menus. If you overdo it at the breakfast buffet, go ahead and work off the extra calories in the modern fitness centre.
Riva Surya enjoys an excellent old town location that’s a 10-minute stroll up to Khao San Road via Soi Rambuttri and less than two kilometres north of the National Museum and Grand Palace, which can be reached by a river ferry from nearby Phra Arthit Pier. Pop across Phra Arthit Road to find a cluster of quality eateries and bars like Jazz Happens and Good Story. The only disadvantage is the fairly long boat or taxi ride to reach the nearest metro station.
Rates fluctuate throughout the year so you’ll want to poke around online in search of a deal. The rates that we were quoted as walk-ins were identical to those offered on the hotel’s website (strangely unusual in this day and age). Riva Surya has an exceptional reputation and you will most likely need to book well in advance if hoping to stay at busy times of year.
Sporting a great river-view pool of its own, the nearby Navalai River Resort is a solid alternative if you’re looking to save some cash. As of 2017, the Riva group also runs a smaller hotel without a pool down near the Grand Palace and Wat Pho in the Rattanakosin historic district; it’s called Riva Arun and boasts views across the river to Wat Arun.
Address: 23 Phra Arthit Rd, Bangkok
T: (02) 633 5000; F: (02) 633 5050
Coordinates (for GPS): 100º29'35.03" E, 13º45'43.31" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Room rates: 4,000B to 8,000B
What we were quoted as a walk-in.
|Superior double room||3,500 baht||4,200 baht|
|Deluxe double room|
With river-view balcony
|4,800 baht||5,500 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