Excellent choice if you fit the profile
1/33 Sukhumvit Soi 11 (Soi Chaiyot) (behind 7-eleven), Bangkok T: (02) 253 5927 F: (02) 253 5929
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An eclectic mash-up of traditional Thai touches, long bamboo-thatched corridors and a policy that encourages guests to write on the walls, Suk 11 remains one of Bangkok’s most popular guesthouses, especially for young travellers. You’ll find decent rooms, memorable atmosphere, lively location and, unfortunately, some staff members with bad attitudes.
On the ground floor of an old house with rusted tin roofs perched atop faded brown wooden walls, Suk 11?s quirky lobby is often set to the sounds of Radiohead and always filled with paper lanterns, old clocks and spirit houses among the many bits of curio. A spiral wooden staircase takes you to a long, cave-like corridor with vintage furniture on either side. A small common area with sofas, flatscreen TV and DVD player occupies a dimly lit corner.
All rooms come with air-con, comfortable beds raised above hardwood floors and dark curtains with traditional Thai designs draped over large windows. While furnishings are minimal, the rooms are spacious and well kept. Each room type comes with choice of ensuite bathroom or small but adequate shared facilities. With no dorms to speak of, Suk 11 isn’t a true hostel.
Rooms come as singles, doubles, triples or family and are reasonably good value in a pricey part of town. If you’re wondering about the seemingly arbitrary numbers, rates include a precisely calculated 7% tax.
With an inviting floor-cushioned lounge, well-put-together menu featuring similarly well-done regional Thai dishes and a laid back atmosphere that’s great for meeting other travellers, Suk 11?s restaurant is a highlight. If you want to learn to prepare some of the dishes yourself, they also run a cooking school.
The guesthouse is located on a side-alley just off the soi (side street) after which it’s named. Sukhumvit 11 is one of Bangkok’s premier nightlife strips, offering everything from roadside VW bus bars to thumping nightclubs. One of Bangkok’s quirkier dive bars, Cheap Charlie’s, is right around the corner. Also home to loads of international restaurants, the area is especially popular with Middle Eastern and Indian travellers.
Just across Sukhumvit Road lies Nana Plaza on Sukhumvit Soi 4, home to dozens of neon pink girly bars and the not-so-wholesome behaviour that goes with them. In short, it’s one of Bangkok’s seediest areas. While Soi 11 is more of a straightforward nightlife spot, it sees a fair share of sleazy overflow, including some very annoying touts who shove pornography in the faces of passing men. Families will probably want to look elsewhere.
Along with overly nit-picky exclamations like “Smoking in guestrooms is a CRIME”, signs posted throughout Suk 11 Hostel inform guests that sex tourists will not be tolerated. We commend the owners for taking a strong stance against the sex industry, but they may go too far by reportedly turning away middle-aged male solo travellers due to a (sometimes) mistaken assumption that they’re sex tourists.
Though we weren’t denied the opportunity to stay when inquiring about rooms twice over the last two years, we did find that some of the staff members can be quite rude. An older woman was not-so-welcoming during our first visit, and more recently, a young lady was curt and unfriendly. On the other hand, a young man who we also dealt with was polite and helpful.
If you’re willing to risk it with the potentially unsavoury staff, Suk 11 is most certainly a popular, comfortable and distinctively artsy spot in a vibrant location with great access to public transport.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 3rd February, 2016.