If this hotel were the setting of a movie or series, it would be a post-apocalyptic dystopian fortress anytime between the 1930s and Y2K. The cast comprises a mixed-age group of mid- to upper-class survivors navigating the new world after it was nearly wiped out by [insert disease or government disaster here, as I haven’t decided].
Pale pastel green scaffolding and gray cement plaster make up most of the hotel’s architecture, from the bedboxed exteriors to indoor fixtures such as balustrades and exposed pipeworks. The place gives off a vintage-meets-modern industrial feel. I can imagine my movie characters getting in and out of the entrance using complex analog locks while looking over their shoulders. Only the strong and fast are allowed to get in and out of the place, while the remaining residents are entertained by the common pool, courtyard theater, restaurant, game rooms, and endless nooks furnished with upcycled materials. The metal elements bolted to the building keep it from being penetrated by the bad guys or monsters.
Snapping you back to reality: Samsen Street Hotel is an award-winning hotel designed by Chat Architects, who was inspired by construction workers’ houses. The four-storey hotel features rough balconies and common spaces fashioned from scaffolding. Each room has a balcony, which will give you a view of either Samsen Street or the pool and theater. Each stair landing overlooks the courtyard.
Checked-in guests can have their free breakfast buffet at Samsen Restaurant on the ground floor. You may also order food from the resto and have it delivered wherever you are in the hotel—the poolside tables, sunbeds, or mobile outdoor lounges.
I recommend you book one of the balcony rooms. Just open your window and dangle your feet while watching fellow guests come in and out of the courtyard, or watch the nightly movies projected at the outdoor theater. For a fun experience, have your food delivered to you at the balcony via the vertical pulley system.
Fun fact for those who didn’t grow up near Bangkok’s Samsen Soi 6 neighborhood: For 47 years this spot was a sex motel, complete with curtained parking spots attached to the dark rooms for couples sneaking in anonymously.
The original structure was flipped and transformed into a street hotel that’s lively enough to brighten up the neighborhood, close enough to Khao San Road and other tourist spots, but tucked well enough to be considered a quiet hotel.
The hotel is rated four-star, but I can’t call it that in the strict sense. While they offer mostly private rooms, they also have dormitory rooms for the budget backpacker, and you can spot them hanging their laundered clothes on the balcony or strumming their guitars while you’re lounging at the pool.
They have fun activities, from occasional street parties to nightly movie screenings reminiscent of the hostel scene. The restaurant and rooms are big enough to be considered four-star, but with quirky elements similar to boutique hotels. As for the clientele, it’s a mix of families, couples, backpackers, and flashpackers like myself who want a hotel that’s both social and quiet.
Samsen Street Hotel is located at Samsen Road, Ban Phan Thom, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand.