19 Jan 2008
Star Hotel, Rayong, Thailand
A$34.50/£16.50 night
12°41'45.87"N 101°18'43.64"E
1 room
Including Breakfast


We've were in Rayong about 7 years ago and stayed at the Star. We remembered it as being a good hotel with not so good breakfasts, staff who were lovely but spoke virtually no English and well located. This is the kind of hotel whereby it's cheaper to go through an on-line booking site rather than walking in or booking directly with the hotel.

The Star is a huge hotel with two separate buildings - when we stayed here previously we went for the deluxe room which was in the newly built second building and had only been open a couple of weeks. This time we were cheap and got a standard room and were put in the the older wing. Older isn't really that old, I'd say late eighties, and the rooms are a nice size with mammoth corridors.

We had two requests on the booking - double bed and non smoking. We got neither, but it didn't seem as though the room had accommodated a smoker in years, and given the problem with Peter's eye from hitting a table, it was probably best that we had separate beds in case I knocked him during the night. Not that it matters - whenever we have single beds, the first time he wakes up during the night he grabs his pillow and squeezes in with me.

It's advertised as a 4 star, but I'd rate it at 3 in the older wing and 3½ in the newer one. It is very clean, although the bathroom was showing it's age, with a few cracks around the sink and poorly repaired gaps around the bath.

The beds and pillows were comfortable, and there was a mini bar and a TV with 15 satellite channels for different nationalities - most people here are on business or families with kids down from Bangkok for the weekend. There was no in-room safe (safety deposit boxes were available free of charge at reception) and no tea/coffee making facilities - the stick water heater is probably the best thing we brought with us. We were in a room on the seventh floor overlooking the swimming pool with a great view. WiFi in rooms wasn't free, but it may as well have been at A$1.70/80p per day.

We got internet access on the second morning, but the routers are in the newer building meaning we couldn't get a stable connection, so we were moved to a room over there as soon as we said there was a problem with the signal. The room in the newer building was a bit fair bit bigger, and being newer in aknist perfect condition (strange really, after 7 or so years) but for some strange reason we still got single beds, although they were even more comfortable than the older wing, and a ashtray, although again the room didn't have so much of a hint of a smoker having ever been there, and again we were overlooking the (smaller) pool

The location couldn't be better - All one to two minutes walk: In one direction, the night market; in another direction, the day market; another direction, the Star Plaza, (a huge computer/IT shopping mall attached to the new wing of the hote);in another direction a huge Tesco supermarket; another direction into the town centre. The bus terminal is about a 5 minute walk (with bags, quicker when you're just out on a food hunt).

Rayong is a lovely place and a big relief after the sleaze of Pattaya. Tourists don't come here - it's just a provincial, industrial town and most of the business people seem to be from Japan or Korea. The reason we came here all those years ago is because I read in a Lonely Planet book that there was no reason to stay in Rayong, just get off the bus and get a taxi straight to the pier to get a ferry to Koh Samet. That means that the locals haven't spent their whole lives watching western women walk around town in bikini's and touching monks (a bigger taboo than being topless) or the men walking around with no shirt or all but holding hands with a 12 year old boy, or people visiting shrines and temples dressed inappropriately then acting inappropriately when inside or getting very drunk in public. Because they haven't seen this, the people of towns like Rayong and Satun are not jaded and disgusted by westerners, and generally are pleased that anyone would come to their town - we are often asked why we chose to be in such towns, and we tell them the truth. Small towns with no tourists are a lot nicer to visit and there is always something interesting to do or somewhere interesting to walk. They are genuinely friendly and will go a long way out of their way to help you if they can, or to find someone who can if they can't. If we ask for directions and the person speaks very little or no English, they will give up on wherever they were going and lead the way.

There is a beach nearby with some resort-type hotels, but the Star is defiantly best hotel in the town itself and we wouldn't hesitate to come back.