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Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok – Photos

Thursday, March 6th, 2008




Hotel review – Phranakorn Nornlen Hotel (Bangkok)

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

This small “boutique” hotel is currently ranked 4th of 357 hotels on trip advisor and was where we stayed on our recent trip to Bangkok (February 2008).

We loved some features of this hotel but also found a few things very inconvenient – so much so that we ended up deciding not to come back on our return trip to Bangkok. This review is meant as much for fellow travellers as it is for the hotel.

The +’s:

Quaint little hotel with a lot of character; rooms are artsy-fartsy and cosy, painted in warm colours (they even have multi-coloured candles in the room which makes for romantic lighting).  Matresses are hard and were just perfect for us. Note however that the pictures on the site give the appearance that the rooms are bigger and more modern than they actually are – they are actually a bit on the small side (more on this later) and rustic (some could say worn). Given the rooms alone, the hotel is overpriced at $60/night. The public areas of the hotel however are superb; the breakfast area overlooks a fantastic courtyard with large trees and flowering bushes as well as a gazebo which includes a little meditation/yoga area as well as a section for free-internet access. There’s a little cafe, a reading area with guides and books,  and the reception area. It’s all beautiful and a relaxing spot to have breakfast or read or to laze around.


Service is great; the girls who work the reception desk are very friendly. Tea is brought to the rooms every day.

The vegetarian breakfast is fantastic. Coffee superb. Everything coming out of that kitchen was healthy and tasted great.

 The hotel is in a quiet residential area and is about a 10 minute walk from the Tha Thewet river express pier. A good base for exploring Old Bangkok. Note however that the river express boats stop at 7pm, after which the location becomes a disadvantage…There’s a 7-eleven (with an ATM) a 2 minute walk from the hotel which comes in handy.

The  -‘s;

There’s no storage space in the rooms, we didn’t unpack during our 3 days there; there’s nowhere to hang up or put stuff. Kept our things in the backpack and took out as needed – not the end of the world for us but travellers coming with a lot of bags or with higher expectations would be disappointed. As I said, rooms more rustic and small than expected (needless to say no tv, coffee machine etc that you expect in a fancy hotel – but that we knew coming in).

Location: hotel is hard to find for taxi drivers, even with the map supplied by the hotel (make sure you always keep one on you because no taxi driver will recognize the name of the hotel much less its location). Coming from the airport the driver passed by the hotel twice before I spotted the hotel sign. I would really suggest that the hotel enlarge the sign to make it clearer. The other problem with the location is that it’s not really close to any restaurant or entertainment districts – it’s a handy location during the day but at night it becomes a problem because you have to take a tuk tuk or taxi to get anywhere.

The biggest problem for us: “We serve organic breakfast only, lunch and dinner should be eaten outside for the concept of sharing to the community”. Most people visiting Bangkok spend the day walking and travelling around. Bangkok is a grueling city: hot and polluted. Getting places always seems to take longer than planned because of the crazy traffic. Most travellers are also recently off the plane and fatigued; at the end of a long day of travelling around the city you want to get back to the hotel, take a shower, change, and get something to eat either in the hotel or nearby.  We just wanted a snack, anything, but the only recommendation from the girl at reception was the 7-eleven which had pre-packed frozen sandwiches. A food stall on the nearby main road had very limited choice. In the 3 evenings at the hotel we twice ended up eating chips and cookies bought at 7-eleven; the other evening we took the taxi to nearby Khao San Road (which is ok during the day but not advisable at night unless you’re in your early 20’s). We found  a Subway and brought the submarines back to the hotel.

This hotel has been described as an “oasis”. In many ways it is, but it would have been so much more of an oasis if we could just have stayed in after a long, tiring day and just have had something to eat in the lovely dining area. This altruistic concept of not serving meals because of “the concept of sharing with the community” also upsets me – reminds me of a gorgeous, eco-friendly, very expensive place we went to in Colombia where all was fantastic until they purposely turned off the electricity at midnight (we woke up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat, realizing the fan had gone off – turns out their eco-friendly policy was to turn the power off, never mind that the temperature was still in the mid 30’s at night or that there were no windows…just stupid). In the case of the Phranakorn Nornlen, they have a wonderful kitchen and a gorgeous eating area, why not take advantage? Serving supper (just something light would do) would have been wonderful for us and would also be a source of additional revenue for them. Instead we had to take a tuk-tuk or taxi to go eat elsewhere. Evening meals, after a long day out in Bangkok, became a source of stress. It upsets me because it is something that seems so logical – something as simple as a meal ended up as a constant problem which, compounded by the hotel’s location, ruined our otherwise perfect stay.

I’m giving the hotel a 3 out of 5 as is. I would give it a 4 out of 5 if they resolved the meal situation – it really was a special little place despite the few negatives listed above.

Other hotels:

We ended up spending a night at the Swiss Lodge Hotel close to Silom road which was centrally located close to the skytrain – great service, great room, even their food was fantastic. More expensive however (about $120 night) and is a typical luxury hotel that you don’t necessarily have to come to Bangkok to experience.

Another recommendation in Old Bangkok is the Royal Hotel where I’ve previously stayed; basic but inexpensive and centrally located, also has a pool.