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“BEST hotel in Chiang Mai if not all of Thailand”

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Vanilla Place Guest House
Ranked #68 of 392 Hotels in Chiang Mai
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 21 January 2009

Staying at Vanilla Place Guest House in Chiang Mai was the highlight of our 2 week Thailand adventure. The location was PERFECT and the owners really make the experience. After staying there, I am actually surprised we were lucky enough to get a reservation and when we left we told him that his new hotel would soon be very popular. Mr. Kem (the owner) picked us up from the airport (for free!) and drove us back when we departed Chiang Mai as well. He was so kind on both trips and we talked about his family and previous jobs. We even got a GIFT when we checked out!

I had told Mr. Kem before arriving in Thailand that we were interested in a trek in Chiang Mai but didn't know much about what we wanted to do and pricing and we definitely didn't want to get ripped off. He has a book at the hotel with all sorts of different trekking companies and prices that he personally has collected for his guests. He will arrange everything for you and even give his opinion (good or bad of the trek company), even though he wasn't getting any sort of commission. He's just an honest, genuine hotel owner trying to make sure his guests have an amazing experience. When we were deciding between 2 treks, we asked him for his advice and he gave us a very honest answer.

Upon arrival (the hotel smells like vanilla, which was nice!), the owners gave us a map and asked us what we liked to eat. He drew on the map where all of the good restaurants are and where all of the "not so good Thai food and over-priced!" restaurants are. He definitely recommended some amazing places and yummy stalls.

Free breakfast is included and they will offer it to you whenever you get up, no set times. It was decent sized - toast, peanut butter, jellies, juices, fruit, tea, and pastries. Every time you walk down to the lobby, you are greeted personally and with big smiles.

The owners would also help you negotiate tuk-tuk, red truck, or taxi fares. He was constantly telling us that tourists are easily ripped off in Chiang Mai, so he always told us how much to expect to pay. He would come out on the street with us and negotiate in Thai. What a blessing it was and a money-saver!

The rooms are good size; we had a queen bed (we were on the street side which is slightly loud at times, but everywhere in Chiang Mai is from what I have read), tv, phone, refrigerator, AC, fan, and nice bathroom with warm water of course. We were also given 2 free bottles of water every day. The bed was comfortable enough, though slightly firm.

The owners really do make this hotel great. It is a very nice accommodation, great location (on river, walking distance to night markets), and amazing value considering how hard the owners work to make sure your stay is perfect. Mr. Kem will save you money in the long run what with his dining advice, trek advice, and tuk-tuk negotiations. We want to go back to Thailand just to stay at this hotel again!

  • Stayed: January 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank lobstergirl28
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 5 January 2009

I thought I was so lucky to finally found this place for my trip in Chiang Mai. It is located at the center of Chiang Mai, nearby Night Bazar. The room is clean and comfortable. The owners, Khun Khem & his wife were so nice and friendly. They helped us everything that they could do.. (e.g. pick up from the train station, suggest a travel program & taxi). The service was superb. More importantly, I felt safe staying there.

  • Stayed: November 2008, travelled with friends
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1  Thank WariKano
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 January 2009

I spent 3 nights at Vanila Place. I would say the hospitality of the owners touched us greatly. Mr Kem, the owner, picked us up at the bus station. He gave us many valuable information, including where to have good chinese food (not far away). He also helped to make transport arangement for our day trip. Breakfast is simple but good enough for me. The rooms are ok,, the standard rooms are without windows. Hotel is generally quiet in the evening so a good place to rest. Suggestion - to provide soap at wash basin instead of shower cream. But overall, I enjoyed my stay there as we were made to feel at home.

  • Stayed: December 2008, travelled with friends
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1  Thank KTeo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 January 2009

We stayed in Vanilla Place for 5 nights in December. I must say it didn't start well as we were not picked up from the airport as promised. But the old couple were so apologetic and sweet about it - they refunded our taxi fare and even gave us Christmas presents! The room was basic but very clean with a comfortable bed. We did have to sleep with earplugs as our room was facing the street, so do ask for a room at the back. All in all we loved staying here dispite little hitches as the owners are so lovely. As somone allready said earlier the old couple are the best asset of this guesthouse. If we were in Chiang Mai again - we definitely would stay at Vanilla Place again.

  • Stayed: November 2008, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank MickeySydney
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 December 2008

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.

  • Stayed: December 2008, travelled solo
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2  Thank s4essene
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 November 2008

Vanilla Place is a lovely MUST! It's located centrally, is clean and even stylish, and the owners are some of the friendliest I have ever met. They truly went above and beyond to make our stay very enjoyable. Of all the hotels I have ever stayed in throughout my life this one really ranks in the top! What a great experience staying in Vanilla Place! Could not recommend it more highly :)

  • Stayed: July 2008, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank clscls
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 November 2008

We found Vanilla Place through trip advisor. The accomodation was clean and close to markets and the centre of Chiang Mai. It was run by a really friendly couple, who did everything they could to make our experience enjoyable. Veyr reasonably priced. Would definitely recommend staying there. David & Vicky

  • Stayed: October 2008, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Thailand34
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Vanilla Place Guest House

Address: 73 / 2-3 Charoenprated Rd | Tombon Changklan, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand
Region: Thailand > Chiang Mai Province > Chiang Mai
Amenities:
Hotel Style:
#16 Best Value Hotel in Chiang Mai
#25 Romantic Hotel in Chiang Mai
#31 Family Hotel in Chiang Mai
Price Range: £15 - £26 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:2 star — Vanilla Place Guest House 2*
Number of rooms: 15
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 
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Also Known As:
Vanilla Place Guest House Hotel Chiang Mai
Vanilla Place Hotel
Vanilla Place Chiang Mai

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