Along the sidewalks snaking through sun-swathed skyscrapers, food stalls saturate the air with smoke, selling chicken skewers and scorpions and sausage and seared pla pao erupting with smells that could alone sate an appetite. Wat Arun looks over the east of the Chao Phraya River, which feeds the canals that cut into the city crawling with local urbanites and nomads alike. To the west is the riverside Rattanakosin royal district, home to the opulent Grand Palace and its beautifully bejeweled Wat Phra Kaew Temple. Khao San Road—the backpacker hub of the universe that boasts a pulsating nightlife scene gushing with gutsy solo travelers who’ve traversed the globe and back—sits less than a mile from there. Bangkok, Thailand, in a word, is alive.
Suhkumvit, a humming cosmopolitan a few miles east, is a gentrified corner of the city with towering rooftop bars offering stunning sunsets, as well as multi-level shopping malls and upscale restaurants that seduce travelers with unparalleled gastronomic experiences. Soi Cowboy, a short street in the neighborhood made famous by The Hangover, offers live music dives, clubs and go-go bars to a crowd of travelers and expatriates alike. And tucked away off a quiet, tree-lined street just around the corner is the Slumber Party Hostel, where I’d spent three nights with backpackers from around the world exploring the city that draws in so many of us.
When I checked in I was warned that this was a party hostel, and I very well could end up drunk and naked. To that I said, I’m home. But I quickly learned that Slumber Party is even more than a wild time.
Slumber Party Hostel is situated just a short walk to the skytran (the BTS) and the subway, which will get you anywhere in the city, and taxis don’t cost more than about 200 to 300 baht (about $6 to $10 USD) to mostly anywhere in Bangkok. The hostel offers 14-, 12-, six- and four-bed mixed dorms, as well as eight-bed female dorms, all of which are fitted with full single mattresses and duvets that are comfier than that of arguably any hostel I’ve slept in before. The rooms are also equipped with air conditioning, fans, lockers and individual reading lights, power outlets and shelves. All guest are also provided with linen and towels for the enormous waterfall-style showers.
Perhaps the most distinguishing features of Bangkok’s Slumber Party Hostel, however, are the fully stocked bar that serves up domestic and imported beers, mixed cocktails and more, and the kitchen that serves local coffee, fresh fruit smoothies and an amalgam of Thai and international foods. While the menus are enticing and reasonably priced, however, it’s the social aspect of Slumber Party’s covered outdoor bar area that makes it one of a kind.
Bangkok is my first destination on my indefinite journey throughout Southeast Asia and the globe. While I’ve never wanted anything else for myself but to be a solo traveling freelancer, I was neither mentally nor financially prepared to take the leap into this lifestyle when I did. Because someone once told me that I’d never be ready to do something like this—leave security, familiarity, comfort and stability behind for a nomadic lifestyle that’s, frankly, defined by uncertainties—I just did it. My plan, for the first time in my life, is to make no plans and, instead, to live unreservedly in the moment. And Slumber Party, my very first stop, made me feel a lot better about my seemingly crazy decision. Everyone at Slumber Party was living in the moment—it’s a party hostel with a proclivity for inebriation and nudity, but it’s also a place where people who made decisions to leave it all to the wind as I did, come for the revelation that life is about experiencing, connecting and living, liberated.
The staff at Slumber Party is largely made up of solo travelers who’ve been pulling off the whole nomad thing for a while—some have been on the road for months and have fallen for Bangkok, sometimes unexpectedly. Their enthusiasm for the city is palpable, and you can sense it in the way they talk about Bangkok’s hidden gems and best-kept secrets that they’re eager to show guests on their bike and walking tours every morning.
I’m not as seasoned a traveler as the Slumber Party Hostel’s staff, so I’m still scared of a lot of things for this trip. One fear is for when the solitude I envision will inevitably, at times, feel more like loneliness. That said, I’ve been around the world and back enough to know that traveling solo never really means traveling alone and, at Slumber Party, I didn’t even have to make an effort or put myself out there; conversation came easy because most travelers were, too, solo. In fact, the hostel attracts such a diverse group of backpackers from all parts of the world that, in one week, I became roommates with people from places I’d never been and friends with people from places of which I’d never even heard. Solo travelers and couples and groups of friends and even people who met while traveling all flocked to Slumber Party and had the same thing to say: they wished they’d have stayed there all along.
Why? Slumber Party is perhaps the most engaging hostel I’ve called home yet, with different social games each evening hosted in the bar. Everyone largely sticks together before heading out as a pact to explore Bangkok’s nightlife and, due to the inevitable debauchery that almost always ensues, trickle back to bed at their own pace. I was surprised to find that I felt completely safe in Bangkok, hailing cabs and wandering home alone late at night, but I almost always found a travel buddy with whom to walk or catch a ride because something about Slumber Party turns strangers into friends who genuinely look out for one another.
If you’re looking for a good time and well aware that we’re not here for a long time, Bangkok’s Slumber Party Hostel is the place for you.