I’m very much a budget traveler, and this is what I strive to promote here on this blog. But sometimes family members come for a visit and, well, what better excuse is there to splurge on a little luxury – especially when they are the ones paying? (insert evil laughter) That being said, high end accommodations can be a tremendous value for money in South East Asia and so I thought I would share with you my recent experience staying at the U Sukhumvit Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand.
Bangkok is possibly my favourite city in the whole of South East Asia and I’d had my eye on staying in the trendy Sukhumvit Road area since my first visit. With great food, shopping, easy accessibility and the chance to see some of the seedier nightlife in the city all in one compact area, I don’t think there is a better place to introduce a first time visitor to the Big Mango than this lively neighborhood. The U Sukhumvit is located off the main drag on a quiet soi, but they provide a free tuktuk shuttle to-and-from the Terminal 21 shopping mall, BTS and MRT stations, which was extremely helpful.
Let’s be frank though: for a backpacker who is used to pay under $10 CAD per night for accomodation such as yours truly, the rooms at U Sukhumvit did not feel cheap to begin with. At upwards of $70 CAD a night, my eyes almost popped out of my head when I realized that pretty much equaled my entire budget for four days of travel in Thailand (including all food, accommodation, travel and entertainment)! But remember this is all relative. We are still in South East Asia and, despite being one of the most luxurious hotels I’ve ever stayed in, consider what the same amount of money would get you in London, Paris or New York. The answer is: not a whole lot. In that regards, U Sukhumvit was a gem of a bargain.
The rooms are massive, modern, well equipped, and as per the U’s offbeat concept, come with your choice of soap, tea and pillows (you can choose your desired level of fluffiness!) You can check in and out at the times that suit you (if you check in at 5pm, you don’t have to check out until 5pm on the day you leave – pretty cool, no?). And after experiencing the huge marshmallow of a bed, believe me that you will want to take advantage of that.
It’s not all I took advantage of however: backpacker habits die hard, and I was happy to fill my boots at the delicious and extremely vegan-friendly buffet breakfast. Got up too late for breakfast? Fear not, as you can order your breakfast all day long and have it served anywhere in the hotel your fancy takes you. Sadly though, I didn’t get a chance to try the well-equipped gym, but the rooftop bar and pool were a fantastic place to embrace my newfound rock-and-roll lifestyle whilst looking over the city in my black satin gown with much swagger and my complimentary welcome beer.
U Sukhumvit got me feeling like royalty and, at around $70 CAD a night, you have to admit it’s very cheap by western standards. Perhaps the only fault was that, the higher you climb, the harder you fall. How could I possibly return to a life of soaking wet bathrooms, rock hard beds, critters and guesthouse owners that call a loaf of generic bread next to a toaster a ‘complimentary breakfast’?