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Phranakorn-Nornlen Hotel
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Reviewed February 14, 2008

This hotel is somewhat overrated, in my opinion.

The website photos only show the large, sunny rooms. Our room was nothing like that – very small and dark, with a wan fluorescent light and barely lit bathroom. Very dated feel. The other rooms I saw were similar to ours.

The A/C ran didn’t keep the room cool, and the screen doors let mosquitos in. The free internet terminals were so slow as to be useless. The common areas were barely cooled by fans and mosquito-infested, making it very unpleasant to sit out for any period of time.

We would have put up with all of this, if not for the inconvenient location. While it is “near” KhaoSan Road, “near” means a 20-plus minute walk, including crossing a couple of busy roads where the cars won’t stop for you unless you step out into traffic. Plus KS Road gives you a very limited appreciation of Bangkok, unless you are looking to spend your vacation entirely among backpackers.

The website also says it’s walking distance to the Grand Palace and Wat Po. We tried to walk that, and absolutely could not -- and we are seasoned walkers and hikers. Again, it involves crossing highways and other major inconveniences -- the heat, humidity, and traffic makes this part of Bangkok difficult even for intrepid walkers.

You can walk to the river to get boats to the palace / temples and Chinatown, but for the most part, we got little help from the staff as to how to get around. Essentially the primary means of transport to see the rest of Bangkok is cab or tuk-tuk. Given Bangkok’s horrendous traffic, relying solely on car transport is a huge waste of your vacation time. Plus, cab drivers have extreme difficulty finding the place, even using the Thai-language card with directions provided by the hotel. While it may be charming the first time, it gets old quickly.

This hotel is in a less-touristed area of Bangkok. So it was interesting to see Thai people going about their daily lives. There is a long line of street food vendors along nearby Samsen Road, so if you can figure out what they’re selling, you can eat for very little money in the neighborhood. But, there is not much else of interest to tourists.

We switched to a hotel near the Skytrain, and for only a few dollars more per night, we were able to see so much more of the city very efficiently (and comfortably) over the next few days.

Overall, this hotel is not a good value, for the relatively high price. (It reminded me of staying at my relatives’ houses in India… but at least there we were staying for free and there was a good trade-off for putting up with such inconveniences!) With a little research, one can find decent rooms in guesthouses for less money, or hotels with much better rooms and location for slightly more.

It may be fine for people who are looking for something very different from traditional lodging. Just be aware of what you are getting, in terms of facilities and location.

  • Stayed: January 2008, traveled with family
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15  Thank Essie16
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 9, 2008

First time in Bangkok and this hotel was good choice. Very nice and calm setting, some 20 min walk north of the main backpacker scene. Green and nice courtyard with adequate rooms and bathroom. Very friendly staff.

  • Stayed: January 2008, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Anders_Sto
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 3, 2008

We stayed at the Phranakorn Nornlen hotel on two separate occasions in late January 2008. We stayed in room 217 for three nights, went to Cambodia, and then returned to stay 2 nights in room 211.

The Rooms - Both rooms were on the smallish side, but adequate. Both had small balconies overlooking the hotel courtyard. The bed was futon-esque and very firm. Both a fan and a wall unit air conditioner were present in both rooms. Neither had a closet. There was some storage space along one wall. The bathroom was a bit dark. The shower was cute. However, the rain shower head doesn't allow for couples to shower together well, as there is no way for both to be in the water stream at the same time. The water heater is insufficient. We were only able to take mildly warm showers. While a warmish shower might feel refreshing after a hot day sightseeing, it is less than pleasant at 5 AM when you're trying to wake up for an early flight. There is a screened, non-close-able window from the bathroom to the hallway. This window is high up, and no one can see in. However, it lets in all the sound from the hallway and the surrounding rooms. There were several crying babies/children in rooms across the hall that sounded as if they were in our bathroom.

Hotel Amenities - Breakfast each morning was a treat. As mentioned in many reviews, it changes each morning. Snacks and drinks are available throughout the day for a charge. Three computers with very slow internet access are available free of charge off the courtyard. Thai massage is also available. The night time tea delivered to the room each night was quite enjoyable. Do make a point to go all the way to the top of the hotel. There is a sun room and a deck with a roof-top view of the neighborhood and a towering Buddha at a nearby wat.

Service - The service was outstanding. Everyone was in the office was more than helpful. When the internet was down one afternoon, the woman my husband thought might be the owner, got her personal laptop out of the office and let him use it. The two mornings we left before breakfast was served, we were given a bag with 2 OJs, 2 milks, 2 waters, and sandwiches. The hotel really goes out of its way to make you feel like a guest, not just a paying customer.

Location - The hotel is 20 minute walk to Kao San Rd and 35 minute walk to the Grand Palace. It is, as mentioned before, tucked away in a quiet neighborhood. The hotel is not known by many tuk-tuk drivers or cabbies. We used the cards the hotel provided for the drivers, but we often were unsure if they would get us back to the hotel or not. Honestly, not knowing if we'd be able to find a cab who could get us back at night, kept us from exploring the city more.

Small Note - We opted to do the Ayutthaya Trufflers Bike Tour via the hotel's sister company. We were disappointed. It was not the tour of the temples we had hoped for. We were rushed from on temple to the next with no time to explore, we didn't get to see the most visited temples on the island, and we given food and them immediately expected to ride to the next site. My poor husband ended up riding the bike with one hand, while holding a spilling coconut. Certainly, our disappointment with the tour was not Phranakorn Nornlen's fault; I'm only sharing this information about the tour to let others who might be interested in booking it via the hotel know the drawbacks.

All in all, we really loved the character of this hotel. It really is a gem. However, I don't think we'd stay there again solely for the lack of a hot shower and the noise issues mentioned above.

  • Stayed: January 2008, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank sehkmet22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 31, 2008

Simply the best hotel I've stayed at....a true oasis within Bangkok... This a very rare Hotel in een city where u feel like you're in a madhouse nomether where you go. And than u arrive in Phranakorn-Nornlen Hotel. the peace and serentity of the place is amazing and the staff are just so wonderfull . you just don't want to leave. I think every city should have one!!Serenity in the middle of chaotic Bangkok! I would come back here.
This is a hotel u dream off on a beautiful island not in bangkok. So to find this is a real treasure.
Go and find out you're self why every body is raving about this beautiful place with it amazing staff.

  • Stayed: May 2007, traveled as a couple
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Thank rhapanus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 29, 2008

We stayed here from Jan 4-Jan 7 2008

I'm almost afraid to write a review for this hotel. It is secluded, which you would think impossible in a city like Bangkok. It is protected from Bangkok by residential strips, and it hides neatly between them. And even though it is secluded, everything you need is close - 7-11 is 2 mins walk, Khao San Rd is a 30b tuk tuk and 4 mins away. The CBD is 100b and 10-20mins away. Its location is pretty much perfect in my opinion. I never thought you would find a place like this, in a city like that. But that's enough on the location.

Getting there.
Difficult
We opted for hotel transfers through the hotel, and mostly due to its secluded, non-touristy location. It paid off in that regard, but waiting 1 hour at the airport until they let us get a transfer was painful - they lost our booking (I was sure I did it, I had a confirmation email too). It was a mini-nightmare that worked out OK. I do suggest using the transfer to get to the hotel, it would save heartache as it isn;t the easiest to find if you haven't the clue where it is.

The Employees.
FANTASTIC. Their attitudes were great, they had personality and didn't sound like overworked zobies you find in other asian hotels. You felt like they loved their job, and meeting new people. We were welcomed with a drink, breezy check inn (even though they didn;t know if we wanted a twin or double room, after I booked a double room). Either way, mistakes happen and I can live with the little issues when the price is so good, and the service, otherwise, flawless. Personality made up for any issues by far. Don't expect perfection, they try, always with a smile, but if something goes pear shaped, smile with them. Their english is better than most, not that it really effects the experience.

The thai massages arranged by the hote,l are cheap (300b) and good. And painful for a first timer like me.

The room.
OHHH, the room.
It was small, definitely, but exceptionally clean. No TV, just a cd player and a little lamp, painted walls (garden room, nice). Bed was a slab and was not comfortable. But, that seems to be the norm in Asia, so I beared it. The bathroom is clean, tidy and has more character than any bathroom I have been in. Nice open shower is great for couples time, and it is generally quite good. I loved the colours in ours, it was great. AC was a great addition to the room, though barely used. Balcony was nice too, small, but good, no view to remark about though, sadly, just trees and suburbia, but it felt homely.

Would I stay there again.
In two words
HELL YES.

You are nuts not to stay there. It is everything you need in Bangkok to make sure you enjoy your room, but get out there and see the city and its sights. And really, that is what it was all about. I didn;t want a room that had me glued to the TV watching ESPN (well...), I wanted to go out and see the place, and have a nice place to come back to, get clean and sleep. And it was all that plus a whole lot of character.

And hell, where else does a hotel employee walk you to the taxi, carrying a bottle of water for your trip to the airport, and wave goodbye as you drive away.

Its the small things that make this place so good, and your home away from home when you see the world.

A++. Could not have wanted nor expected more, especially for the minimal price. I recommend to anyone who isn't a spoilt little rich kid who needs TV. I think for older families it is perfect, maybe not for people with younger kids, but I'm not in the position to know there.

OH they had free (slooooooww) internet available if you needed it.

Do yourself a favour and stay here.

  • Stayed: January 2008, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Matt-and-Kelly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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