Where you stay is almost as important as who you stay with.
Hotels are not unlike bar boys. In addition to some offering hourly rental, opinions on which are good, which are bad, which is the best, and which is the worst are all very subjective. For the newbie, that makes trying to come to an informed decision on where to stay difficult – not knowing what it is that others consider makes one hotel better than the next, it’s impossible to nail down whether or not you’ll be pleased until you actually try the place out for yourself. Some reviewers on reputable travel sites take the time to explain why they liked or disliked a hotel, which better provides a clearer picture of what to expect. Most rave or spew disgust, but without details. What sets them off or caused them to gush could be of such little importance to you that you could easily decide to stay or not stay at a hotel, and then miss out on a great little place or – and worse – book your stay in a place that is so bad it ruins your holiday. At least with a bar boy you can go check him out before deciding whether or not to off him. Though that is possible with a hotel, most people pre-book their stay. Few want to waste their holiday time looking for an acceptable place to lay their head at night.
When you are unfamiliar with the city you plan to visit, picking out a good location for your hotel is difficult too. Some rely on proximity to an area or attraction they plan to spend the bulk of their time at or around, others by what sounds to them like an ideal spot. That’s not a problem, for example, if you are visiting Agra and want a hotel with a view of the Taj Mahal. But if you are visiting Bangkok instead and decide a hotel next to or with a great view of the river is the way to go, you may find yourself on the outskirts of the city, far away from everything you want to see and anything you want to do. To a newbie travelling to Bangkok, the benefits of staying in Siam versus Silom or by Sukhumvit versus riverside makes little sense too; they haven’t a clue as to what those neighborhoods are or where they are located in respect to what has drawn them to visiting Bangkok in the first place.
Location, of course, isn’t the only consideration. But since it is often the first thing people hone in on, it is what I’ll use in this series of posts to delineate and sperate the hotels that generally attract or cater to the gay traveller into groups. While everything else may be comparable, I don’t think comparing a hotel in the middle of Patpong with one on Sukhumvit makes sense as the two offer a totally different experience based on location alone. So each part of this series of posts will cover a different area, the hotels you’ll find there, along with a brief description of that area’s pluses and minuses.
A room with a view is always a nice bonus.
Shameless Mac – god bless him wherever he may be – used to have a rather involved rating system for massage boys that, if you could remember what all of the designations stood for, provided an excellent idea of what kind of guys each shop had to offer. I’ll be using a similar – though not quite as extensive – approach for hotels, based on a 5 point scoring system for each criteria that I consider important in selecting a hotel (with 5 being as close to heaven as you can get and 1 being for a place I wouldn’t stay at with your dick). Lastly, before we get to the points I’ll be judging hotels on, keep in mind these reviews are subjective too. You may well disagree with what I have to stay (which probably isn’t unusual if you’ve read this blog before). BUT, I will explain why I liked or disliked something about a hotel so that if you have a different opinion on whether or not that is a good thing, you can discount or completely ignore how I scored the place and decide instead that it sounds like the perfect place for your stay.
In the posts that are to come I will link back to this one so that you can refresh your memory on the criteria I’ve used to score each property, as well as my personal prejudices in determining them.
1. Location. Location, Location:
Several factors weigh in on what I consider to be a good location for a hotel in Bangkok. Being in Patpong is not one of them. Close proximity to the BTS is. As is a neighborhood that offers immediate entertainment as well as handy access to a convenience store. How easy it is to get into and out of the area counts, as does how close or how convenient the hotel is to the places you intend on frequenting. One of the benefits of staying in Bangkok is every amenity you could possibly want, with the right hotel, is just outside your door. Pick the wrong hotel and every time you walk outside you’re looking at a ten minute walk or more instead. The area’s ambiance counts too, though that is generally not high on my list for a hotel in Bangkok – if it is conveniently located it is not gonna be tucked away in some serene and secluded garden-like spot.
The shower experience can be a real experience with the right guy.
2. The Shower Experience:
A morning shower is as important to my well-being as a ready supply of caffeine is. That means good water pressure, water temperature that doesn’t fluctuate, a shower head that at its tallest setting doesn’t hit my stomach, and a lack of mold growing in the cubicle. Not having to climb into the stall, deal with a damn shower curtain that once wet wants to plaster itself to my body, and enough room to play – or at least turn around in – all matters too.
3. Bed Head:
Whether for sleeping or play, the bed in your hotel room can make or break your stay. And it can have the same impact on your back. “The best bed I’ve ever slept in” is a nice recommendation except it fails to say why. What you consider a plus in beds may not be in my book. Some prefer sheets, a blanket, and a bedspread, others consider a duvet to be the best way to go. Some like a rock-hard bed, others a billowy ball of fluff to sink into. I’m of the latter persuasion. I like a bed that is womb-like. So while that’s the standard I’ll be using, I will detail just how closely the bed comes to my ideal and then if you are one of those who thinks the floor looks comfortable, you can completely discount my score.
4. A Clean, Well Lit Place:
I tend to think of these two together, probably because a dark room tends to just feel not as clean as one that is well lit either by natural or electrical light. Your bar boy du jour may appreciate a dimly lit room, I don’t. At the same time I’m not a fan of lighting that shines in my eyes like I’m in the middle of an interrogation session. Or fluorescent lighting that turns the luscious skin of the guy I rented for the night a sickly hue of green.
Booking a non-smoking room where the last guest smoked like a chimney can be a bitch.
5. Breaking Your Fast:
I’m not a breakfast person. Coffee is usually all my system requires. Unless there are donuts or cold spaghetti available. Or cold pizza. Except when I’m in Thailand. Then, a free breakfast is a necessity to me, even though free means the price has been added to the cost of the room. Yup, a lavish buffet is nice, but I’ll accept less depending on how much I paid for the room. Within reason. It really is a matter of value. The more I pay for a room, the more I expect a better selection at breakfast. So a cheap room with a decent breakfast can still score a 5.
6. The Hired Help:
As tempted as I am to rate a hotel on its staff by how cute employes are, what really matters is how well they respond to your needs. For some that’s how friendly they are. Forget to greet a guest when passing in the hallway and some travellers get so upset they’ll never stay at that place again. As bad as it sounds, I think of a hotel’s staff as servants. While a smile is nice, their main job is serving my needs and if they can do that without me ever noticing their presence, that’s cool.
7. The People Next Door:
It may seem wrong to judge a hotel on the other folk staying there, but it is usually the hotel itself that encourages the type of clientele who frequents it. For example, almost all hotels in Thailand are gay-friendly, but some go out of their way to attract a gay crowd. That can be good. Or bad. Places heavily populated by the tour bus crowd went after that business, and – now to be a racist too – those that attract a clientele from third world countries advertised for that business. The people who are sharing the hotel with you can greatly affect how enjoyable your stay is. So where it matters, I’ll be including a note about what to expect out of the folk you’ll be running into in the lobby and hallways.
8. You Gets What Ya Paid For:
I chose to use value instead of cost when it comes to my wallet because what I get for what I pay matters more to me than the cost itself does. When I pay less for a room I’m willing to be less demanding and to accept a lower standard. Conversely when I pay big bucks I’m less willing to forgive the small things. You get what you pay for is a well known adage. And I want what I paid for. When I pay around $50 for a room, I don’t expect to find a chocolate left on my pillow during the turn-down service. When I pay $200 for a room, that damn chocolate had better be Godiva.
Your fellow guests can make or break a hotel stay too.
I always get a chuckle out of posters on the gay Thailand forums that rage against some hotel because it is not gay friendly when what they really mean is that it is not prostitute friendly. So I’m using that heading as a salute to bitchy queens who think every hotel should welcome trade with open arms. Not that I don’t agree with them to some extent. But I think a hotel’s standard should be either yea or nay. Those that charge a joiner fee are trying to have it both ways. Though for most it’s really about making an extra buck off of customers. Being charged 400-500 baht for the pleasure of being pleasured in your room sucks. When your hotel wants 1,500 baht or more . . . screw ‘em.
I don’t tend to treat a hotel as my home away from home, but rather as a place to make pit stops. So numerous restaurants, a bar or two, a gym, sauna, pool, lending library, etc., while all nice don’t really matter to me. But I know I’m the exception to the rule. Besides, Noom loves having a gym to work out in and a pool to show off his body at. So even though I may not use them, I will score each hotel reviewed on the amenities it offers.
11. Getting In And Getting Out:
The check in and check out experience is different from The Hired Help section because it is the one area, even though this is Thailand, where I expect efficiency. Often when I’m checking in I’ve just been travelling for a full day and what stands between me and a bed had better be smiling and quick about what needs to be done. And when I leave I don’t want to have to schedule in an extra half hour to deal with front desk issues. How I am treated at the beginning of my stay is going to impact my feelings about my entire stay. And how I am treated on departure is what is going to stick in my mind all the long, long way home. In this I am not unique. You’d think the hospitality business would have figured that out by now.
The friendliness of a hotel’s staff always counts. How hot they are does too.
12. Brownie Points:
You’d think the other eleven areas I’ll be scoring hotels on would be enough, but some places deserve extra points for going out of their way to make your stay everything it could possible be. And some deserve the exact opposite. If I use this area for a hotel I’ll explain why. Since the individual scores will add up to the hotel’s over all score, I’ll get to fudge that outcome, when appropriate, using brownie points.
I hope that as I review various hotels, you’ll chime in with your views too. They may be of more value to others than mine. And if I missed a place, please let me know about that too (though do pay attention to the areas as I have defined it, huh?)
Originally I had intended on including the first area of town I’ll be covering in today’s post, but this puppy is already too long. No problemo. I’ll get into the meat of the matter in tomorrow’s post. Though if you just checked into a new hotel, that may be too late to do you any good!
Related Posts You Might Enjoy:
Pimp My Room: Joiner Fees In Thailand
Steal This Room