Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Bangkok Lodging Battle: Fancy Hostel vs. Simple Guesthouse

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Guesthouses and hostels are two of the most popular types of lodging in Southeast Asia.  But is one better than the other?  I put this question to the test during my most recent stay in Bangkok.

Lub*d Silom, known as one of Bangkok’s most upscale hostels, was having a sale with dorm beds at 300 baht.  That’s exactly my housing budget in Bangkok.  I decided to try two nights at Lub*d Silom and spend the other two at my usual Bangkok guesthouse, Wild Orchid Villa.

My mission: to determine whether a fancy hostel or simple guesthouse is better value for a backpacker in Bangkok.

Let’s compare the rooms:

First, the fancy hostel:

Now, the simple guesthouse:

Price

Fancy Hostel: At the time, Lub*d Silom was on sale at 300 baht, or $10, per night.  It’s usually 650 baht, or $21.50, per night.

Simple Guesthouse: 250 baht, or $7.50, per night.

Advantage: Simple Guesthouse

Location

Fancy Hostel: Close to Patpong, home to Bangkok’s Red Light District and a knock-off market.  A 15-minute walk from the Metro and 10-minute walk from the Skytrain.  Otherwise, Silom has little of interest to backpackers.

Simple Guesthouse: A five-minute walk from Khao San Road and in the heart of a backpacker neighborhood, yet quiet.  Walking distance from the sights at Ko Ratanakosin, but all other destinations require a cab.

Advantage: Simple Guesthouse

Room Quality

Fancy Hostel: Fancy six-bed dorms with A/C and huge lockers.  Each bed has its own power outlet, lamp and actual cubby!

Simple Guesthouse: A single room with twin bed, a wastebasket, and an extra meter of space.  No power outlets.  Fan room (no A/C).

Advantage: Fancy Hostel

WiFi Access

Fancy Hostel: Free, fast WiFi accessible through the top floor.

Simple Guesthouse: WiFi available at 60 baht per hour.  Not the fastest, and only accessible on the ground floor.

Advantage: Fancy Hostel

Security

Fancy Hostel: Three levels of key-card access to get into a room in the women’s wing; two levels in all other areas.

Simple Guesthouse: Not much security beyond keys to rooms, though the ladies at the front desk keep a close eye on who walks in.

Advantage: Fancy Hostel

Decor

Fancy Hostel: Industrial chic.

Simple Guesthouse: Wild and colorful Asian artwork.

Advantage: It’s a draw.

Amenities

Fancy Hostel: Café, book exchange, computers in addition to free WiFi, theater, laundry, travel agency, luggage storage.

Simple Guesthouse: Restaurant, laundry, travel agency, luggage storage.

Advantage: Fancy Hostel

Bathrooms

Fancy Hostel: Nice public bathrooms with Western flush toilets.  Free soap and shampoo in the shower.

Simple Guesthouse: Decent, and with Western flush toilets, but bring your own soap and toilet paper (like many Thai guesthouses).

Advantage: Fancy Hostel

The Verdict

I’m sure that most people would decide to stay at the fancy hostel based on this assessment.  But the two most important factors to me are price and location.  Because of that, I prefer to stay at Wild Orchid Villa, even though Lub*d’s amenities are so much better.

It all comes down to personal preference.  If you plan on avoiding Khao San Road, which a lot of backpackers do, Lub*d would be a great choice.  If you have a bit of extra money to spend, it’s even better.

Lub*d actually has a second location in Siam Square.  Siam Square is a great neighborhood, right on the BTS and close to excellent shopping.  I’d recommend staying in Siam Square over Silom any day of the week.

To be honest, spending two days at each place was pretty nice.  While staying at Lub*d, I did all my errands and activities that required taking public transit and saved myself a lot of money on cabs.  Then at Wild Orchid Villa, I spent my time on Khao San Road and enjoyed the backpacker and nightlife scene.

What would you choose: the Fancy Hostel or the Simple Guesthouse?

Comments

19 Responses to “Bangkok Lodging Battle: Fancy Hostel vs. Simple Guesthouse”
  1. Jack says:

    Kate, I am loving you right now. This is exactly the decision I’m trying to make. I think it’s amusing that the hostel I was considering was Lub D, too. Great minds, hey? I’ll be in Bangkok on the 30th and I can’t wait.

    I really need to find a place that is quiet and conducive to doing 2-4 hours per day in the mornings on my Macbook. Having stayed in MANY hostels, I’m a little worried that there might be too many distractions…

    Thanks for the info!

  2. Amanda says:

    Sounds like each place has its good points. It seems like location and privacy could be the main selling points (for me, at least). This is a really good comparison, though! Honestly, I think I might be inclined to do what you did, and try them both out!

  3. Alouise says:

    It’s funny because usually in North America the guesthouses are usually the fancy ones, and the hostels are usually pretty basic. Both places seem pretty great, and they both seem like a great deal. I can understand why so many people go to Thailand, accommodations for even $20/night is pretty fantastic.

    • Earl Squirrelson says:

      It’s similiar in Australia Alouise, so much so that guest houses are more like B &B’s and cost as much as a cheap hotel. In saying that though, the hostels are pretty good here i must say.

  4. Jon Gross says:

    I wish I would have seen this earlier. I have already booked my accommodation! going to be there the 24th cant wait!

    @realjg

  5. Chris says:

    Nap Park Hostel is the best of both fancy and cheap hostels! Located by Khao San, good security, $12 a night, free wifi, very clean, and each dorm bed has a light, cubbyhole and outlet!

  6. Theodora says:

    I would always stay at the most basic guesthouse, or cheap hotel, or even homestay, where I would have personal space, than in a hostel, sharing a dorm with however many others and having to go straight to sleep when I get in, rather than pootle around, y’know, doing things.

    As you know, in most of South-East Asia, $5-$10 buys you a room of your own, and I would always stretch the budget rather than go to a hostel.

    I’m in the throes of my first hostel experience in Australia, where I’m paying $42.50 for a hostel with great facilities, also in the backpacker ghetto. But I find listening to other people sleep, having to creep in while others sleep, having to go outside for any late night phone calls, well, pretty bloody hideous.

    I’m from London, so I don’t mind getting changed in front of others, or others getting changed in front of me. But I cannot understand why anyone who’s used to a room of their own would choose a hostel over a guesthouse…

    Love to hear more about Lub’d Silom…

  7. Holgs says:

    Can’t say that I’d stay in either of these options. You can do much better than the shoe-box fan rooms at Wild Orchard – maybe something with a window?

    To me the main Lub D is in one of worst parts of Bangkok – its not really that close to anything – a 10 minute walk is pretty far from everything by BKK standards. Even at the 330 baht promotion price its a bit of a rip-off. 750 is just outrageous by local standards – pay that price for dorms in BKK and most people will probably assume that you’re incredibly naive.

    If you want facilities like wi-fi, A/c, TV etc, there are plenty of guesthouses or hotels that have that, a private bathroom, towels etc for around the 500-750 baht mark. The catch in Bangkok is that you usually won’t get these prices by booking online – you get ripped off instead. A much easier approach is to turn up, wander around Soi Rambutri near KSR, have a look at a few rooms and find somewhere nice. This isn’t London where (almost) everything online is cheaper – its the opposite – if you can afford the technology to get online you can afford to pay a lot more.

    KSR is actually much more convenient once you get the hang of catching the river and canal boats – the river boats are good for the attractions along the river, the canal boats will pretty quickly take you to the main shopping district. There are buses that go to MBK if you want a better taste of local life and have some time on your hands. The crowds of backpackers can get a bit much, but if you’re sharing a dorm with them you don’t even have a place to escape to.

  8. PatatoOor says:

    I think I would choose the guesthouse 🙂
    For it’s location and also to have a little private space when I need it.

  9. AudreyDez says:

    Thanks for this review! Helped me get a better idea of locations in Bangkok like Silom, Khao San and Siam Square. We’ll definitely try Khao San Road! 🙂

    • I highly recommend it! Took two friends out on KSR last night — their first time in Bangkok. They were spellbound. Their eyes were just alight. It was amazing to see it through their eyes!

  10. Beth Partin says:

    This is a great model for a comparison post. You lay everything out very clearly and note several things to think about when choosing accommodations.

  11. Lyle Lovelace says:

    As far as hostels vs. guesthouses, what are the policies for bringing prostitutes back? I’m guessing in a dormitory hostel-style room there may be issues with the roomates, even if you kept the noise down. My first visit to Thailand will be in just two weeks, and I’m still working out the details. In past backpacking experiences, I’ve always just picked up female travellers staying at the same hostel, and we would just be discreet in a dark corner or broom closet, but I’m guessing the Thai working girls may not agree to this. Do all guest houses with private rooms allow “visitors”. Basically, I’m looking for the comraderie that comes from staying at backpacker-friendly hostels but with the option of indulging in the more prurient delights that Bangkok has to offer.

  12. aj says:

    I have been researching the same topic and I am so glad you wrote this piece-beautifully written and very precise. ll take the hostel-only coz my life revolves around shopping and siam is well connected. thanks!

  13. Holly says:

    So far I’ve bookmarked every post!
    Bangkok: I agree – fab city, I could live there very easily.
    Hanoi: cannot wait to see it, especially after your post.
    I just might give a hostel a try especially at those prices.
    Oh dear Lord, get me back on the road!

  14. Stephanie says:

    Urgh, creepy man posting about bringing prostitutes back to dorm rooms! Such good manners eh!

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