Once in a while you’ll come across a place to stay that looks too good to be true…
And unfortunately Ko Samui’s “boutique” backpacker hostel iBed couldn’t quite live up to it’s promising description.
Whilst there were several impressive aspects to the very tidy looking building, I couldn’t help but feel that the hostel was a bit of a missed opportunity, and could have been a real flashpacking hotspot with a little more care.
But don’t get me wrong, it’s not a complete write off by any means. Best I elaborate…
Situated just across the road from Lamai beach – although you’ll have to cut through the various resorts and hotels opposite to reach it – it’s in a pretty decent location, particularly as it’s a 5-10 minute walk down to Lamai’s wannabe Ibiza style club & bar strip, so it’s close enough to get involved but far enough away to avoid the noise. With Lamai being the second largest tourist center on the island, only behind über trashy Chaweng, it means that transport to other parts of the island is easy to come across.
The hostel itself is located in a gorgeous building on the second and third floors above a cookery school (also owned by the same group). Stepping inside – after leaving your shoes at reception – you’ll see that there’s a very open-air feel to iBed, with the kitchen/common room surrounded by windows rather than walls on three sides, and these are usually all open during the day.
Talking of the kitchen/common room, it’s a very tastefully decorated space! With plenty of lush leather chairs and plush stools dotted around it’s easy to make yourself comfortable, although you’ll need to crank the fans on to keep cool in the tropical Thai heat. You’ll find a computer available for free use in here if you don’t fancy making use of the Wi-Fi. Kitchen facilities are also ace, with microwave, toaster, kettle and all the cutlery you could need on hand. Don’t worry, there’s no need for an oven with lots of tasty street food available just down the road! But breakfast is included, comprising of toasts and croissants.
Up on the top floor you’ll find a deck for sunbathing, which also hosts a few washing machines – although only one was working when I stayed – and plenty of space for hanging your wet washing out to dry. I never saw anyone sunbathing up here of course, but then there is a beach over the road…
So all sounds good so far right? Unfortunately it’s the bedrooms and bathrooms that really stop iBed from hitting the heights that it could have. You’ll find the four 8 bed dorms next to each other in the corridor that runs along the outside of the kitchen, and upon stepping into your room you’ll be both impressed by the tidy layout on show, but also the ice-cold air conditioning that seems to be constantly on!
Each bed in an iBed dorm comes with a privacy curtain, personal light, large in-built locker (perfectly big enough for a large backpack) and bizarrely… a TV! Whilst the first three are all brilliant additions the TV is a little bizarre, particularly as none of them worked. Now I had no interest in watching Thai TV during my travels, but I feel that if you’re going to offer something and talk about it as major selling point, then you should at least ensure it works.
On the downside however the “blankets” provided were those large towels that I came across a few times in Thailand. I can’t pretend to be a big fan of these, and would have much rather had a thin blanket rather than a fluffy towel. And most disappointingly the open-air aspect of the hostel backfired big-time when it came to the sleeping space – I found bugs in my bed a couple of times, and woke up with some rather lumpy legs a few days into my stay. It seems the loose dorm doors allow entry a little too easily…
Whilst the bathrooms came equipped with some of the best showers I used in Thailand, they also suffered from the open-air aspect in that you’ll be baking hot again seconds after having a shower. This can be a little frustrating when you’re taking a shower to actually cool off from the tropical heat, and I personally always prefer a cooler bathroom. Outside the showers the sinks were large with plenty of taps, but not always kept particularly clean.
Overall it’s hard to sum up iBed, due to both the positives and the negatives that I came across during my stay. On the one hand it’s a gorgeous looking place with a lot of cool touches. On the flipside though there are a few aspects that really, needlessly, drag the hostel down, and this also contributes to the slightly flat atmosphere in the hostel I feel. I wanted to love the place – even though I definitely didn’t love Ko Samui – but it just left me feeling that it wasn’t quite as good as it should have been.
iBed: 124/521 Moo 3 Lamai Beach, Maret, Koh Samui, Suratthani, Thailand 84310