23 April 2009
Smith Residence, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Apartment
TB22,000/month
18°46'46.59"N 98°59'16.84"E
1 Bedroom, 2 bathrooms

May 2009 approx A$900 PLUS metered water and electricity

Pure luck and nothing but led us to Smith Residence. When we got off the overnight bus from Udon Thani, we somehow ended up on a songtheow with a lady Peter had struck up a conversation with. We were dropped off close to Chiang Mai gate just outside the moat encircled old city. He left me with the bags and went off to find somewhere half decent for a night which would give us a chance to look around for an apartment for a couple of months - instead of finding a guesthouse, he stumbled onto what may be the nicest serviced apartments in town. The nightly rate is TB3,000 - just 8 nights and you're ahead with the monthly rate apart from utilities charges.

Smith residence is just on one year old, and has been well maintained - not usual in Thailand. The bottom floors have rooms of varied quality - the price, room amenities and access to communal facilities grows as you rise from floor to floor, although all have very good monthly compared to nightly rates. The seventh and eighth floors are all 1 bedroom apartments apart from a very large two bedroom apartment on the corner of the seventh floor and have access to all facilities including free and very fast WiFi. Oh, did I mention the big flat screen TV, surround sound and DVD player?

All of the apartments have different layouts, some have a solid wall between the living area and the bedroom, others have a sliding partition which gives the area a bigger sense of space and means you can swivel the TV around to watch it in bed. The flip side of that is you can't watch TV in the lounge without having the partition open, meaning no early nights for me whilst Peter stayed up to watch the football for the first month. We moved from an apartment on the eighth floor to the seventh as we felt it would be cooler (no hot air in the roof space above us) and although the identical sized apartment felt as though it was smaller, it not only had a totally enclosed bedroom but we were on a corner so had an additional window in the bedroom to make use of the breeze. Fly screens on all windows and balconies meant a good supply of fresh air which is far preferable to the air conditioning.

The rooftop fitness centre got Peter's seal of approval, and there was a smallish but hardly used swimming pool with a few sun beds around it. In the first few weeks we were there it was possible to keep moving the beds and be in the shade all day, but towards the end of our stay the sun was coming around by lunchtime - although it has to be said that would be a plus for most people.

There was a laundry service at a reasonable TB35 per kilo, but the apartments directly opposite the building had 3 coin operated washing machines at TB20 per load, which was a lot more economical. In front of the washing machines was a drinking water machine which didn't seem to be calibrated correctly and gave almost 5 litres of water for TB3. Several other drinking water machines were within walking distance (even with a 5 litre bottle of water or two to carry).

The location was great. Just outside the moat, it is in a semi-residential area so nice and quiet. There is a couple of convenience stores and a small supermarket within a couple of minutes walk (over the moat) next to the large morning market, where there are lots of fresh food stalls during the day and cooked food at night. Walking just over 5 minutes in the opposite direction brings you to a large market with no tourists in sight and better (not to mention cheaper) food, mostly take away.

There is a magnificent Japanese owned French bakery less than a minutes walk from the front door, but you have to get the timing right or an order in as they sell out very quickly. Ask for the blue building bakery.

The small restaurant on the ground floor was very popular and everyone said it was good food as well as good value for money. There is also a small mini-mart on the ground floor with a few chairs on a deck selling basics and very well priced bottles of beer.

The owner, Dr Smith is a dermatologist who is around quite a lot and doesn't mind giving free consultations if you're feeling a bit under the weather or worried about anything. Staff are great, most speak excellent English and all of them try really hard to make things as easy and comfortable as possible.

There may be cheaper alternatives out there, there may be more luxurious ones out there, but I wouldn't hesitate to return or recommend it to anyone.

Free and very fast Wifi in room, satellite TV, kitchen, dining table - I could go on and on and on........

http://www.chiangmai-smith-residence.com/

smith_residence@hotmail.com

+66 53 203217-19 / +66 53 201710-11