By Thomas Jones
Bangkok’s Khao San Road holds a sweet spot in many a traveller’s heart. Those of us who have taken to travelling rough in Asia have found respite here from the harsh realities of the road well travelled. Here there are banana pancakes and cold beer, massages and cafes, friends to meet and strangers watch. A place to see and be seen at our long-haired hippy best, staying in questionable guest houses, smoking endless cigarettes and eating bowls of noodles as we try to stretch that 10-dollar-a-day shoestring in preparation for the next foray into the wild.
Riva Surya is a funky, high life alternative to the typical Khao San Road experience.
Being full of young people from around the world Khao San is one of the most vibrant areas of Bangkok. So, whether returning to Bangkok or coming for the first time with money in your pocket, don’t be put off by its disreputable reputation. Staying here doesn’t have to mean cheap backpacker accommodation any more.
A big tick for the concierge service, which we really put through its paces. what we asked for, We got.
Riva Surya is the antidote. Just one block away from the backpacker Mecca, it’s a a funky, 68-room, boutique hotel right on the Chao Praya River close to many of the city’s most revered temples and tourist attractions. About 150 metres away is a river taxi stop where you can catch a ferry, take in the sites, and ultimately connect with the Sky Train to take you anywhere in the city, including the city centre. For those wanting to sightsee there is a tour agency right adjacent who can organise canal tours to temples and the floating markets, and they charge reasonably by the hour.
‘Tropical colonial with a modern twist’ is the term they use to describe the hotel’s design, and this can be seen in the use of balconies, stone flooring, antiques and objets in the public areas, along with wooden shutters, carved partitions, doors and windows. All affected with the aforementioned ‘modern twist’ to meet the demands of the 21st century: WiFi, sleek bathrooms, iMacs, and cornflakes for breakfast.
The stylish exteriors of the hotel are very welcoming at night
Another big tick was for the concierge service, which we really put through its paces with demands and enquiries for restaurants and bars and travel services. We asked. We got, and you can’t ask for more than that.
The only downside was that the hotel could do with some soundproofing. Not being carpeted, the sounds of doors opening and closing late into the night by returning guests and hyperactive kids can be a bit annoying. The maids also need to close the doors of the rooms they are servicing because they are using some pretty high-powered vacuum equipment, with motors not conducive to the good, long, medicated lie-in that a hard night out in Bangkok requires.
Complaints aside, once roused from sleep and offered a satisfying breakfast by the water’s edge, the hotel is a comfortable place to hang out all day if you want. The rooms are spacious with cable TV, the bar serves cold beer and a great selection of food, there’s a gym if you really must, a free form pool to take the heat of the day away, and sun loungers overlooking the Chao Praya River from where to watch the barges, tugs, and river boats chugging past. Their movement and your lack thereof are a beautiful reminder that you are on holiday, making the location even more desirable.
23 PhraArthit Road