There is no doubt that Mr Kind Owner is very friendly and welcoming, as another poster here agrees, he couldn't be more so, which I agree is very reassuring when you arrive in a strange place. And yes, a cup of cool water is brought to you as you arrive. Nice touch, too. However, what's the accomodation actually like beyond the 'nice touches' and for what price?
In terms of the price, the other poster on here is right - half what I paid at the River View Lodge - which I'll comment more on in their review - 860 bahts per night, which is 17 Euros per night.
Although, when I came to pay I couldnt help noticing under the glass desk an entirely different price for a 'Superior room' of 1500baht and panicked for a moment! ('Superior room' by the way is their starter room, the one I had.) A silly marketing ploy? They would do better to remove this and keep the integrity they clearly both have as a couple. But was the room really superior? And in what sense? Location? Facilities? Quality?
The location of the Guest House couldnt be better if you're into shopping at the Night bazaar, just round the corner. I always used to ask Tuk-Tuk or taxi drivers to drop me at the Pornping Tower, because it is literally three doors down the street.
Now the Pornping Tower deserves another mention because I have stayed there before and it is an extremely comfortable luxury three/four star tower block hotel with two of the most popular nightspots in town, one aimed at the kids with live Thai music, Hotshots, and the other all ages, Bubbles.
You also get all the 'five-star' treatment of twenty-four hour receptionists and excellent full English breakfasts and tea/coffee, refrigerator, TV, ensuite bath/shower. What put me off going back was the price.
However, the lonely planet said they had special offers if you asked for them, and so I tried my luck, and I was offered a double room for 800bahts. I had had one before so I knew how high the quality was, but what put me off was the fact that they had no internet access in the room, only in the lobby. This is a belaboured but crucial point. This other poster here had mentioned that the Vanilla Place Guest House had internet access in the rooms and it does. So what was the room like?
The first all-yellow room I was proudly showed by Mr Kind Owner had enough room for the double bed, but there was no cupboard except a coat rail with two hangers, and no chest of drawers, and no refrigerator and no tea/coffee and actually no window. (All standard features of any room at the Pornping Tower, of course.)
Natural light was available through the bathroom door window but in the bathroom that window couldn't be opened so there was no natural air in the room, only re-cycled air con air. This made me realise the problem with having a hotel which is terraced. The rooms in the middle will have no window or natural light at all. The bathroom had no bath but a stand-in room shower / western toilet with spray and toilet paper.
On the plus side, it all looked spotlessly clean with white sheets and white duvet and the remote controlled TV was new and of a very decent size so I said yes, I would take it for a night.
On the way down the stairs from the second floor, I noticed a door open on the first room at the back on the first floor which was unoccupied. I peaked in and spotted a window in the room! It was even openable! There was a single bed but otherwise equipped exactly the same as the other one, and the window was too attractive to refuse. I asked the owner if I could switch and would be prepared to pay the same money even though it was only a single room and he agreed.
I stayed for five nights in the end. The elderly couple are so welcoming and accomodating, and offer the highest standards of service they possibly can, which is exceptional in Thailand. This is the secret of this hotel's success: Them! Mr and Mrs Kind Owner! Proof that people make all the difference.
The room I stayed in itself was mediocre, rather featureless, save for one framed picture of a map of Thailand and Myanmar. The decor was yellow, of course - Vanilla hotel, have you got it yet? Yellow outside on all the walls and in! But clean and well maintained in the room. The bathroom tiles looked freshly fixed but were cracked vertically the height of the room in two places, and I hate to say it, but there were one or two tiny ants in the bathroom and later I saw one in the room, but it's not like there were legions of them! I've seen the same at the Pornping Tower.
I would consider this a reasonably clean, well-fitted one / two star B and B run by genuinely sincere, warm, friendly and lovely people. Their 'nice touches' do work, and make you feel like you are getting more than you probably actually are. But is that value for money at 860 bahts?
For instance, the breakfast 'a la continental', barely, and sparse. It is not fresh coffee, but a cup of boiling water with a selection of little packets of nescafe or tea or whitener (no milk or cream), basically what you'd get in your room at the Pornping Tower, without having to go downstairs in the morning!
Further, it is not fresh croissants but two slices of toast and little sachets of jam and butter and maybe marmelade, although the butter is refrigerated and ice cold. Bananas and tangerines are also de rigeur for some reason, but not hams, cheeses, spreads or any dips??!?!
However, they will 'serve' this at any hour of the day or night to accomodate you, whether it's all been packed away or not, and geniunely offer another cup of coffee or another slice of bread to make sure you're happy, or glass of cool water whenever you need it.
Also, I had two bottles of water from the fridge and I was told it was 'on the house' by Mr Kind Owner. He also told me the laundry I had done was on the house because I never, rarely, had breakfast, although that ended up being added to my room bill - well, a fraction of it, Mrs Kind Owner added 70 bahts instead of the 110 bahts it should have been so I shouldnt really complain; it would have been three times as much in Bangkok.
There are minor sore points, like I heard Mrs Kind Owner say that it was ok for this other guest to check out the following evening, but she insisted I check out before 12.00pm, which riled me a little, and Mr Kind Owner didnt say goodbye or acknowledge me leaving when I did, consumed by interest in his other Thai guests who seemed disappointed about something. But you have to say that, like a good restaurant, where the locals go, can't be a bad thing. But then are they paying what we fallangs are? (I seriousy doubt that.)
I personally don't think the room is worth 860bahts per night, in retrospect. Compared to Europe, the price seems miraculous, but if the Pornping Tower can give you such a much greater quality of room - like a cupboard and drawers for a start - and much higher quality breakfast, albeit without the higher quality of service that Mr and Mrs Kind Owner provide, I would still have to say go to the Pornping Tower, rather than the Vanilla Place Guest House, if the price is the same, but never River view lodge hotel again because I simply couldnt sleep there with the loud live music from over the river at 4am and the nextdoor neighbours rattling old air con all night.
If the sound-proofed Pornping Tower can't give you an 800b room, then you're probably alright with Mr and Mrs Kind Owner, but there are similar Guest houses, and this is clearly in that bracket, recommended in the Lonely Planet Guide, offering similar bright clean air con ensuite rooms, for half the price.
But you're probably so mad at the River View Lodge that you'll run from there as quickly as I did and straight into Mr and Mrs Kind Owners' arms and curse me as a hypocrite for staying five days and still criticising their comparatively cheap rates! At which point all I would say is you clearly know Thailand a whole lot better than I!
Whatever I've said about the place, I still think Mr and Mrs Kind Owner are lovely people and wish them every success with their guest house, and judging by how busy it was when I was there, I'm sure they're not in the slightest concerned by any of the minor criticisms I have made.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Vanilla place a boutique guesthouse located at the heart of Chiangmai. Our 15 beautifully decorated rooms can offer you the convenience and comfort like you are living in your own house. All rooms are fully furnished with teak wood. Night Bazaar is around 5 minutes walk and we're also close to all tourism areas such as Anusarn market, Ta Pae and Rim Ping, which can be reached very easily. Warm welcome is awaiting for you! ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com, Agoda, Odigeo, Ctrip TA, HotelQuickly and 5viajes2012 S.L. so you can book your Vanilla Place Guest House reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Vanilla Place Guest House Hotel Chiang Mai
- Vanilla Place Hotel
- Vanilla Place Chiang Mai