Homage To The Nana Hotel
Lately I came across some quite negative comments from Stickman`s readers concerning the Nana Hotel. Since I stayed there a month ago for two weeks between longer excursions to the jungle regions in northern Thailand I would like to write some lines defending the place.
In the vicinity of Sukhumvit one can find some quite new 4- and 5-star-hotels, all of them palaces with a huge entrance-hall, spacious rooms catering for the well-to-do customer – and all a bit more or less exchangeable with similar ones all over the world and sometimes from travellers even labelled as a bit sterile.
There is quite a contrast to the rather old Nana Hotel which opened 1963 with only 60 rooms over five stories, where some of the now 349 rooms could need renovation and the lobby has the charm of times long gone.
But Nana has a very special nostalgic atmosphere and a unique clientele; if one looks a bit carefully one is reminded of the times of R&R at the time of the Vietnam War, when it mostly catered to USA veterans. So please allow an old “makhuthä” or tour-leader try to describe it step by step in a most personal way.
When arriving and entering reception you come to the reign of Mrs. Yaruwan who is in charge of bookings and Mr. Arn, for decades chief of accounting and their colleagues. Everything here will be handled in a most professional way and with a friendly smile. Do not forget to ask for your breakfast-voucher and a coupon for a welcome-drink. The later is not the “tainted water” you will be served elsewhere, but it is valuable for an excellent cocktail at the dining room; may I recommend Tequilla Sunrise?
The downstairs toilets, formerly most shabby and full of ladyboys busily rearranging their make-up, are completely modernised.
Should you be too tired from a long flight – why not ask in the massage-parlour for Mrs. Dom for a no-frills traditional Thai massage. You would not believe the power she has in her little hands and you will notice you have muscles you did not know you had before.
Feeling afterwards like a new man you enter the huge breakfast-room at floor number four, greeted by a group of young waitresses and their charming boss – how could I forget her name, must be my old age! Breakfast itself is very tasty with lots of fresh fruit. The atmosphere in this room is relaxed and reminds of a big family; instead of business-suits the general “dress-code” for the mostly elder men seems to be shorts – admittedly not always a real pleasure for the eyes. Their Thai “shadows” above those many of them tower over feel home here as the “patchwork-families” with their mostly very well-educated children, not a trace of discrimination by askane looks, no “walk of shame”. Add one or two “ladies of the night” working their tablets and some “normal” tourists in order to get a general impression.
Concerning rooms, for 1680 THB, around 50 US $, breakfast included, I can highly recommend those at floor 10 or 11. Clean, fresh towels every day and two chambermaids from Isaan who made my room while I went down to have breakfast. Please do not forget some 50 baht notes each time if you want the same prompt service.
One can sit outside and have a drink sitting next to some obvious quite regular guests. A real “eye-catcher” here is the distinguished gentleman with white hair wearing an elegant Panama Hat who seems to come right out of “From Sea to Sea” from Rudyard Kipling, answering your greeting in the same friendly way as the group of well-dressed ladies with heavy make-up who seem daydreaming of those glorious days long ago, when they met some young GI`s at the former (in)famous Nana Disco.
If you are hungry in the evening, the dining room is quite small, because a good part of its former size is now occupied by “Hooters”, but the dishes are excellent and not expensive. May I recommend the green curry with shrimps for around 220 THB, mineral water and tip already included.
One can use the outdoor pool, have free wi-fi, may book excursions next to the reception and need only a ten-minute walk up to the Nana BTS skytrain station.
Those who seek company for the night have it real easy, they do not even have to cross the road to reach the Nana Entertainment Plaza opposite because there is a good number of ladies and ladyboys waiting right outside in the parking lot.
When departing there is a taxi-stand right outside; the drivers know very well all of the major destinations in Bangkok and speak English – in contrast to many taxi-drivers one may find on the streets – a service that comes with a certain price.
I can only hope that the Nana Hotel shall remain as a living monument of a rapidly vanishing time and shall not fall under the wrecking ball for the construction of one more shopping-mall.
My final conclusion would be – if you are after near perfection and not at a tight budget try The Landmark or a similar one, but if you want a very special atmosphere for far less money go to the Nana Hotel; here you book not only a hotel but an institution. If the Thai government would have a heart for vanishing farang-culture in this country, why not put it on the Thai Heritage Conservation list?!