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The Railway Hotel

Every expat will agree that the secretto sanity while living in a foreign country is to have a special escape that you can rely on from time to time. When living in Vietnam, I discovered my "special place" while on a trip to visit a friend in Bangkok back in '96. She suggested I check out Hua Hin, a three-hour bus trip south, for the weekend.
Having knowledge of my limited budget, she recommended numerous guesthouses in the small fishing village. She also mentioned that I should, at the very least, check out the Railway Hotel. She told me it was the hotel used during the filming of The Killing Fields end described its various charms.
Upon arrival in Hua Hin, I went directly to the Railway Hotel and walked the grounds to see if reality matched my friend’s lofty descriptions. It did. There is a topiary that is over 100 years old. There is an orchid garden where you can learn about the growing of these delicate plants. There are three swimming pools, a very cozy tearoom, a pub, a dining room overlooking a stunning garden complete with frangipani trees, an ocean, absolute peace and quiet, a gym, a library, a tennis court and a variety of daily activities (you need only sign up). And there is a SPA!
With each discovery of the indulgences available, I prayed to Buddha to please let me be able to stay; I approached the front desk and asked the price. The quote was about $80 US a night. I was crestfallen. I didn't know where to look. I felt like a peasant. Then I plucked up my courage and said, "This is a beautiful hotel, and I would really love to stay here, but that price is too expensive." Being straightforward is an important lesson to learn while living over here although at the same time you have to be willing to walk away. I was taking a big gamble. 
"Oh, just a moment", said the receptionist, "we have another single room for only forty dollars." I was cash poor at the time, so I pulled out my credit card and announced, "I'll take it ... for two nights!"

The porter escorted me to my room and pointed out amenities such as a TV with movie channels, A/C control, mini bar, etc. Meanwhile, I was takmg in the wonderful black and white beehive hoofing, outrageously thick towels and wealth of freebies in the bathroom, the wide teak-planked floor of the bedroom, the gorgeous view of ocean and gardens from my private balcony... immediately after he left, I jumped onto the bed and shouted, I'm here! I'm here!"
This property will always be my marker for a first-class hotel. Since my first visit to the Railway Hotel— and I have returned marry times—I've had the opportunity to stay at many five-star hotels all over Southeast Asia. NOT ONE compares with the hospitality, environment, service, tranquility, and beauty of the Railway Hotel. We're now into the new millennium, and rates have gone up, (it's become part of the Sofitei group), but I'm willing to pay the price for such a lovely secret retreat Pamper yourself in the spa. Rejoice in simply being there! 
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