Dates: June 18 — 19, 2018
Who Stayed: Sabrina & Three Companions
Busaba Ayutthaya's minimalist white-washed facade provides a stunning contrast against the eroded red and brown ruins that the region is known for. The crisp, cool whites combined with lush greenery make the hostel feel kind of like an oasis in the middle of this hot, dry city which once served as Thailand's capital.
The building is a fifty-year old traditional Thai house which has been recently renovated by its owners. In the spirit of family homes popular in Central Thailand, a central zone or common area is surrounded by individual homes or bedrooms, serving as a space for members of the family to come together. In fact, you'll find many thoughtfully curated gathering spaces across the grounds, which is what makes the Busaba's transition from home into hostel feel so seamless.
We arrived in Ayutthaya after an hour's train ride from Bangkok. From the train station in Ayutthaya we negotiated with a tuk tuk driver and hopped in for about a ten minute ride to the hotel. We actually overshot the hotel a little bit at first and had to turn around— we were looking for the iconic white buildings we saw in the hotel photos but the hotel itself as actually tucked away behind their cafe and storefront which sits on the main road that circles Ayutthaya Park.
Checking-in was fairly smooth and the staff provided us with a well-designed map of the area as well as 20% off coupons for their cafes. Before heading to our room or other parts of the grounds we were asked to leave our shoes in a cubby in a room off the lobby and switch into a pair of provided flip flops.
While Busaba’s best value is probably it’s gorgeous shared rooms, I booked the site’s only two private rooms for our group which consisted of two couples. The two private rooms are located on the building’s upper floor, behind a charming little outdoor patio.
The rooms are very simple yet elegant. The white vertical paneling on the walls and golden fixtures on the outlets and lamps kind of made me feel like I was staying in a spacious train compartment. My favorite feature was probably the windows on both sides of the room, which you can easily open to get a breeze going— although it was very hot when we visited. To that point, the air conditioning in the room was very powerful. The room is also furnished with some adorable objects which are also for sale at Busaba’s associated cafes. I ended up buying one of the mugs that was provided in our room.
The bathroom situation was a bit surprising to me. When I had booked the two private rooms I had assumed they also came with private bathrooms. In reality, there is one private bathroom that is shared between the two private rooms. Which wasn’t so bad since my entire party had booked up both of the property’s private rooms, but four people sharing one bathroom is a bit of stretch. I actually ended up just going downstairs and using the property’s shared hostel-style bathrooms most of the time and I didn’t mind at all because they were actually impeccably clean, well-designed, and felt a little more airy and relaxing than our designated private bathroom which had no windows.
Shared bathroom. Showers and toilets are located to the left and right, and separated by gender.
The Busaba has many common areas to hang out as a group— from the patio on the second floor to the covered dining area which overlooks the small creek behind the hostel, as well as the lobby. The lobby looks a bit more refined than the usual hostel common room, with spacious cushioned benches and coffee tables set up for playing board games— or even better, Nintendo Switch. You can borrow the console and four controllers for free and hook it up to the television in the lobby and play all kinds of party games.
Breakfast is included with your stay at Busaba. During check-in you’ll be given a choice between three entrees, two of which are pork congee and pork rice porridge— the distinction between those was confusing even to us. Turns out the rice porridge is more of a rice soup. Breakfast is served on the dining veranda behind the hotel, with unlimited toast, cereal, coffee and tea provided as well. To be honest it wasn’t the most memorable meal and you will definitely need to add a lot of seasoning to your congee or porridge, but it will suffice to get you started for a day of touring the archaeological sites in the city, or hold you over for a morning train ride back to Bangkok.
Left: Iced tea and frappes at Busaba Cafe; Right: Lunch at Somtom Sukunya.
I was more impressed with Busaba’s cafes which have an impressive variety of cold drinks that are a perfect reprieve from the city’s dry heat. We visited both the cafe next to the hotel as well as their sister cafe beside two of the temples in the park. The sister cafe is actually just kitty-corner to one of the most amazing Thai restaurants I’ve eaten at in all of Thailand, a lovely little place called Somtum Sukunya. I highly recommend you take all your meals there.
While our interactions with the staff were limited during our one-night stay, everyone we met was extremely friendly and nice. One of the staff members even kept the lobby open late for us when we stayed up playing video games.
Another perk that Busaba provides are bicycles for guests to use, free of charge. If biking isn’t your speed they will also help arrange a motorbike rental and have the vehicles dropped off at the hotel. I highly recommend using either a bicycle or motorbike to efficiently get around the city and view the many different historical sites at your own speed.
On that note, the Busaba is very conveniently located just outside Ayutthaya Park which houses the majority of the temples and ruins in the city. Once we had our motorbikes it probably took us less than five minutes to get to Wat Maha That where you can buy an entrance pass to all of the temples in the park.
However, aside from the hotel’s own cafe which is better for breakfast/lunch, there aren’t many restaurants or dinner options directly around the hotel. I’d definitely recommend grabbing food either at the night market or on the east side of the park before heading back to the hotel. Luckily with our 24 hour motorbike rental, it was easy for us to get in and out of the hotel to grab food. There was also a convenience store about a block or two away from the hotel.
Unfortunately, access to Busaba’s private rooms require climbing one flight of stairs. However, there are hostel-style rooms on the ground floor and the shared bathrooms on the ground floor are accessible as well.
I highly recommend the Busaba for those on a budget who still want to stay somewhere clean, comfortable, and well designed while visiting Ayutthaya. While you could do the trip in one day by leaving and returning to Bangkok in the early morning and late evening, for a reasonable price you could stay overnight and explore the city at a more leisurely pace by staying at Busaba Ayutthaya. As far as hostels go, Busaba is probably one of the most elegant we’ve ever stayed in. It’s also a great choice for groups since you can split up into the private rooms or book an entire hostel-style bunk room for yourselves.
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