On On hotel
Phuket’s first hotel
The On On hotel was the first hotel to open in Phuket and it’s still there on it’s original site on Phang Nga road in Phuket old town. The hotel had run in to disrepair but has been completely renovated and restored and is now branded as “The Memory at On On.”
The restoration is in keeping with the rest of Phuket Old Town which has undergone extensive gentrification with many of the old Sino-Portuguese buildings being renovated.
Phuket Town is now the happening place to be for trendy young Thais. Phuket town is also becoming a popular mini break destination for tourists from Thailand’s neighboring countries. The town, which has no beach, provides an alternative holiday experience, away from the usual resorts on the coast.
“On On” comes from the Chinese word Un Un, which means ‘Happiness for all Visitors.’
A nice thing about Phuket Town is how pleasant it is to walk around. Attractions within walking distance of the On On hotel include the Thai Hua Museum, Baan Chinpracha and the Jui Tui Shrine. Plus Thalang road and soi Romanee. New restaurants, bars and cafes are popping up all the time and it seems like a new piece of street art gets painted on a wall every week.
The history of the On On Hotel
The On On hotel opened its doors for the first time in 1929. It was build under supervision of a architect from Penang. It was perfectly placed for merchants in Phuket during the island’s tin mining boom, well before tourists arrived.
As the tin mining trade diminished and tourism because the main industry in Phuket, more hotels opened, mostly on Phuket’s west coast. Phuket town became the municipal centre of the island, and tourists had no reason to visit. Just a trickle of backpackers still arrived in Phuket town by bus. So the On On hotel became a cheap backpacker hostel.
The On On hotel was used in the filming of The Beach, the Leonardo DiCaprio movie released in 2000. It was used for the scene early on in the movie when Leo arrives at the Khao San road hostel in Bangkok.
The On On hotel now
The hotel restoration has been done very tastefully around the old building. Wooden floors and shuttered windows remain. All the rooms maintain the original feel with some antique furnishings but with the addition of modern necessities such as air conditioning, WiFi, fridges and mini-safes.
There is a choice of private rooms or dormitories so it is still suitable for budget travelers but can also cater to wealthier guests.
The ground floor lobby area and courtyard is large and airy, a great place to sit and drink a coffee or chat with fellow travelers. There is also a restaurant and bar.