The Signature hotel @ Thapae (in Chiang Mai, Thailand) was the perfect hotel for me because it was only a 3 minute walk from the dental clinic that I had chosen to have my treatment done at. Check out my dental vacation post for more info on why I chose to have my teeth fixed in Chiang Mai, Thailand. My online search for accommodations was actually really frustrating as I was juggling the cost of a 16 night stay with proximity to the clinic balanced with cost as well as safety/security and cleanliness. There are a lot of accommodations around Chiang Mai’s Old City ranging from hostels to 3 star hotels. The four and five star hotels are further out from the Old City. After having walked around and seen much of the area, I consider myself very fortunate to have chosen The Signature Hotel @Thapae.
I basically skipped over the hostels, even if they offered private rooms. These hostel are really inexpensive. I’ve never tried staying in one but considered it at one point until I realized I needed somewhere safe to store my camera gear while I was at the dental clinic. So I started looking into 3 star hotels because the lower starred ones, I think, were also the hourly ones but don’t quote me on that. Plus a lot of the reviews on cleanliness wasn’t flattering at all for many of them. There were quite a few 3 star hotels in the area around the Tha Phae Gate, where the dental clinic I went to, Dental4U is located (just a hop, skip and a jump away). I had a difficult time choosing one but I finally settled on The Signature Hotel @Thapae because it had the least amount of negative reviews (well, negative in terms of what I wouldn’t tolerate). What I mean by that is the complaints of neighbors being too loud is something I chalk up to as “normal” and things like “room was too small” don’t really bother me because I only use a hotel room to sleep and I don’t need much room for that. The reviews that do bother me are the cleanliness ones and safety/security ones. Another major consideration for me was vicinity to food. With my many food allergies I wanted to know where some major fast food outlets and their distances to the hotel. There was one that I was seriously looking into because there is a 24hr McDonald’s on the premises but the cost is significantly higher per night than the Signature Hotel plus I got a really good discount booking it via Expedia. The great thing about booking through Expedia is that you pay the hotel via Expedia so there’s less opportunities for checkout shenanigans like what happened to me at the Datong Hotel in China. Oh, the fast food joints are within 10 minutes walking from The Signature Hotel @Thapae.
When the taxi driver dropped me off in front of the hotel I was like, “what the heck? Where is it?” The driver pointed down this lane looking walkway and I thought, “aw **** what did I did I book this time….” Once out of the taxi I had to cross the road, although it was a one way street it was pretty busy and in between the vehicles there were mopeds, scooters and motorcycles zipping and weaving about. Walking down the path was pretty nice actually. It was mid afternoon and an employee was spraying water on the plants on either side of the walkway and wetting the pavement in an effort to cool the area down. Once seeing the hotel at the end of the path, I was relieved, it looks good, clean and well maintained as opposed to some of the ones I’ve seen on the way there in the taxi. I walked through the door and was greeted cordially by the front desk employee who was checking in other guests at the time. When it was my turn to check in, he apologized for the delay and proceeded to get me checked in but couldn’t match the name on my passport to the name I used to book. When I told him to look under ‘Ray’ he exclaimed “OH! It’s you…we upgraded your room, for free of course, because the room you booked is too small to stay in for 16 days!” All I could say was, “awesome!” After getting my room key and a printout map highlighting where the local areas of interest were as well as “good” restaurants he remarked that 16 days was a long stay and that I must really like Chiang Mai, I chuckled and told him this is my first time here and that the dental clinic that I was here for needed 14 days to complete my treatment he looked surprised/shocked and wished me well and pointed to a stack of binders with tour info in them that I could peruse if I wanted. I thanked him and went up to my room. It’s worth mentioning that everyone I’ve come across in the hotel could converse with me in English and every single one was polite and courteous…every single time I saw them. It was quite refreshing especially the days when my mouth was sore/sensitive and those time when I was hangry (angry when hungry) because I couldn’t eat yet. Be sure to have some cash when you check in, as there is a $1000 TBH deposit fee refundable upon presentation of the receipt at check out.
Below are some photos of the room. As you can see, the room is quite nice! Well, I’m impressed, I’ve been in worse and certainly not expecting this nice a room for the price I was paying. So awesome! There’s a bathroom, a closet, a full length mirror on the wall, a safe, a mini fridge, a night stand and a desk and a huge bed with a cushioned step (I have no idea what that’s for. I used it to put my phone on). Also plenty of outlets for me to plug my devices in. The only thing fixed so that you can secure your laptop on with a laptop cable lock is the metal bar to hang your clothes on in the closet. Not really a problem for me as my laptop (more like a netbook) will fit in the safe. I do use a laptop cable lock to secure my rolling suitcase for when I have to leave some camera gear in the room. Basically I loop the cable through the closet’s metal rod and the tumbler section of the lock goes into my suitcase and I use the built in zippers TSA lock mechanism to lock the zippers. The space between the zippers has just enough room for the cable to fit through. The room had no odor, the toilet was clean, as was the shower stall (I read a review that the shower stall was really dirty, so I brought slippers and never used them) and a large sink. The sliding closet door also doubles as the bathroom door, meaning when you close the closet, the bathroom is open and when you open the closet, the bathroom is closed. No biggie, only me in the room so I never have to close the door while in the bathroom. House keeping comes everyday and replenishes/changes what you’ve used, like the soap, shampoo, sanitary pads…at one point I had like 8 of them because I kept putting them on the shelf under the sink along with the other stuff I don’t use. Anyways, they finally noticed and stopped giving them to me. On the days, I was too tired/sore/lazy to get up and requested not to have my room cleaned, they’d tie a plastic bag on my door handle with two bottles of water. I’m not a big water drinker but there in Chiang Mai OMG it feels like I’m in a desert and along with those 2 free bottles of water a day, I consume 2 bottles of Gatorade and at least one more bottle of water! It’s SOOOOO HOT THERE (late April to mid May)!
The only thing that I wished were better at the Signature Hotel @Thapae is the food. Why? Because there isn’t any. The restaurant was “permanently closed” but the seating is still there. No vending machines either. Not that big a deal I guess, as there are street vendors, restaurants and a 7-11 within a minute’s walk. Speaking of restaurants, there is one called Ratana’s Kitchen a few shops down from The Signature Hotel, the food there is good and the prices are lower than any of the restaurants up and down the street though not tourist prices they are higher than the mom and pop shops. What else is up and down the street? Of course there are massage shops, as far as I can tell, the legit ones, as there aren’t any curtains or barriers so any “extras” will be seen by all. There are quite a few jewelry stores (silver), some art shops, tour agencies and a coin op laundry mat which was well lit and very clean! A packet of detergent costs $10 TBD as does a packet of softener. The washers and dryers are a bit small and costs $40 TBD each. Takes about 2 hours to get a load washed and dried. I had to do laundry twice because everyday my outfit will be sweat soaked! The hotel did have laundry service but I figured it was more expensive, plus it was a great way to use up the $10 TBD coins that were getting pretty heavy.
NOTE: when I went to checkout with my luggage, I took the elevator down and noticed that there was a sign indicating that some snacks and drinks were available for purchase at the front desk, don’t know how I missed it but I did (you can’t see any drinks or snacks at the front desk either).
Some final notes on the Signature Hotel: It’s very close, as in walking distance, to many of the touristy stuff as well as the night life. I didn’t see any real parking areas on the premises, just enough space around the entrance to fit 2 vehicles or one vehicle and maybe 5 or 6 mopeds/scooters/motorcycles so if you’re planning on renting something, keep that in mind. Also note the width of the path, it’s just barely wide enough to fit an SUV. Oh, a few more hangers would have been nice too, I only had three.
I’m really impressed with this hotel, some of the fixtures and things look pretty new, especially the elevator which uses touch buttons like on your smart phone, I found it kinda annoying because my fingers sometimes aren’t able to ‘activate’ the sensor (on my phone too) and so I have to press/touch repeatedly to get things to work, I ended up just using the stairs as I was only 1 flight up. The aircon unit the room is the split type and the outside section is right outside the window so if you’re not used to hearing aircon noise or you’re a light sleeper, it may disturb you. I only really noticed the aircon when I first get back to the room and turn it on then it quickly just fades from my mind.
My overall impression of the Signature Hotel @Thapae is that it is more than adequate for a family vacation hotel. The price was great for the quality of room and the service/staff was awesome too. When I go back to Chiang Mai, I will definitely be staying there again.
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