In Phuket Town, Blu Monkey Phang Nga Road is a modern hotel and coworking space. I checked it out in January 2016 to see if it was a good place for a digital nomad to live and get some work done while enjoying Thailand.
The Important Info
- Location: Phuket Town, Phuket Island, Thailand
- Type of venue: hotel and coworking space
- Length of stay: 1 week (18-24th January, 2016)
- Website: http://www.blumonkeyhotels.com/
- Instagram photos taken here: https://www.instagram.com/explore/locations/1018758496/
There are two Blu Monkeys in Phuket, both owned by the same company. The B&B which is a little to the north, and Phang Nga Rd, which is the one reviewed here. The hotel is located in Phuket Town, the old town, easy walking distance to famous cafe and tourist strips Thalang Rd and Soi Rommani, a 7Eleven and the old bus terminal.
As a Hotel
The building and facilities are brand new and modern – the common areas are shiny and fun, and the pool is pristine. The common areas don’t encourage too much loitering (no hammocks, comfy armchairs or the like) and can be quite busy during breakfast times.
Each room has its own cute faux-grass-floored balcony, and some have full bath tubs outdoors on those balconies! The rooms are well set up for nerds: a private safe big enough to fit a laptop, a chair and desk area along with lamps and plenty of power outlets.
The bathroom and facilities were pristine, though the bathroom had a window which as permanently open to the outside, so it couldn’t be air conditioned. From time to time in my 7th floor room, my bathroom drains had a special odour. Thankfully this never wafted into the main room, but during the rare times this happened, and combined with the extreme humidity of the outside air in the bathroom… it was not a pleasant place to be a breathing-dependent organism. It was rare enough that I didn’t bother mentioning it to management.
The hotel offers free breakfast from 6am to midday. While I was there, this consisted of a buffet of three Asian-style breakfast dishes (noodles, chicken-mushroom stirfry, tofu-carrot stirfry), soup and bread. There’s also the snack bar, free all day. Here you’ll find things like cookies, cake, and palm-leaf-wrapped food parcels of street food like sticky rice pork. You can also drink as much tea, coffee, cold juice and cold bottled water as you like.
During my first few days at Blu Monkey Phang Nga, there was definitely a breakfast rush. The hotel seems to market itself to large groups, so those mornings I wandered downstairs to find the common areas packed by a very large tour group of families, elbowing each other to get to food each time it was freshly placed on the serving tables. I alternated between trying to avoid the 9-10am rush, and being starving enough to join the rude crowds.
In the afternoons, fresh sweet snacks are often provided (free again), and included things like cute little cups of banana-choc mousse, muffins and cake.
Wifi was strong and stable throughout all of the hotel and the rooms, power and air conditioning were both solid. Rooms were cleaned daily, water pressure and hot water was excellent, and the staff were extremely friendly and more than happy to help.
The hotel also board games at the front desk, an in-house laundry service (for a fee), and some beautiful new bicycles free for guests to use.
These included perks, and new modern digs come at a cost. As a hotel Blu Monkey is expensive, especially for Thailand. When I was in town, LubSboy (right next door) was less than half the price, and that wasn’t even looking for a bargain. If you were making full use of the freebies – private coworking room, free food, bikes etc, it might start to seem more reasonable. If you’re not interested in those, you might be paying more than you need to.
As a Coworking Space
While I was there, the main “coworking” room was booked out by a company or project who didn’t seem to be guests at the hotel. I was assured the coworking room was intended for guests to use and this was a short term arrangement “at the moment”, but the people using it were pretty well settled in – they even had toys on their desks.
The second floor of the hotel consists of small meeting rooms, and as I asked for a place to work, I was given one of these to use. The room was already set up like a meeting room – a large table and chairs, water, stationery, plenty of power and of course the beloved air conditioning. It also had a projector screen though I had no reason to make use of it.
I had the meeting room to myself, which was both good and bad. It meant no distractions, and that I could play some music without headphones. It also wasn’t what I was planning – one of the great things about using a coworking space is being able to meet and chat to others. No only was I in a closed room by myself, but on a different floor from that room of mysterious working nerds. If I wanted zero social contact, I could easily have worked from my hotel room in another (cheaper) hotel. If you were travelling with a few others who needed to work, or if the fully-booked-out situation changes downstairs, or if you really do want that meeting room to yourself, then you’ll be fine with this 🙂
As I seemed to be the only hotel guest making use of their coworking facilities, I wondered if that might be why Blu Monkey leased out the big coworking room – if it sat empty most of the day while guests went out on bus tours and things, why not open it up to lease?
I was a little disappointed at both the lack of access to the “coworking space” and the higher cost, but at the end of the day the place was pleasant to stay in, had everything I needed and a bunch of included perks, and I was more than able to be productive.