Anatomy of a Guesthouse

January 16, 2007

So far, we’ve been staying in guesthouses, not quite hostels, not quite hotels.  Guesthouse rooms are usually under $20, and more often than not, cheaper than $10.  Price depends on the room class.

In the lowest class, you have a bed and a fan.  These rooms have shared bathrooms a la your college freshman dorm.  Now, a girl needs her privacy to some extent, so we’ve been avoiding these.  These can run as cheap as $3-7. 

The second class of room is actually divided into two sub-classes.  Bed, fan, and bathroom are standard.  Prices vary depending on whether there’s hot water or not.  In Bangkok and the surrounds, we’ve found that the temperatures are warm enough and the water tepid enough that hot water isn’t really a necessity.  Our Kanchanaburi guesthouse was our first foray into a non-hot water room.  We payed $7 for this room – should’ve gotten the hot water.  I froze my buns off.  With a hot water room at our last guesthouse, we paid $10.

The third class of guesthouse includes bed and bathroom, now topped off with air-con and, of course, hot water.  Our first night in Bangkok, we stayed in one of these places and paid $19.  The room was dark and depressing, though, and pigeons woke us up at 5 in the morning.  However, in Chiang Mai, we’re living like royalty in a guesthouse with TV, fridge, and hot water, for only about $7.  There’s no toilet paper though (the locals use their hands here…once again, something that I simply cannot do.)

Which just goes to show you that price isn’t always everything.  This brings me to my next point.  Because a book cannot be judged by its cover, guesthouses allow you to inspect the room before you stay.

Our checklist of what to look for:

Is the room and bathroom clean?

Does the electricity work?

Does the hot water work?

Do the locks work?

Are the sheets clean?

Overall atmosphere (i.e. windows, street noise, decoration etc.)

Bonuses for a good guesthouse include such “amenities” as an inviting restaurant or sitting area.  At our last guesthouse, the atmosphere was great – bamboo thatched huts, surrounding a beautiful, quiet garden.  Another bonus is a good restaurant.  The food at the past two guesthouses we’ve stayed at has been excellent.  Movies and books can be another perk, as can a common area where fellow travelers can dish out tales and advice.  Some guesthouses can book tours and taxis, rent bicycles, and even provide Internet.  Friendly service is always appreciated.

For anyone who’s interested, we’ve stayed at and can recommend:

Bella Bella House in West Banglamphu, Bangkok

Tony’s Place, Ayutthaya

Apple Guest House, Kanchanaburi

Blue Star Guest House, Kanchanaburi

 Rendevous Guest House, Chiang Mai


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