Review: The Den — Bangkok, Thailand
The newest adult entertainment to addition to Sukhumvit Soi 12, The Den is something like an upmarket version of the hostess bars of Ho Chi Minh City or Phnom Penh. Well at least the surroundings are more upmarket. The staff and set up is something else as I will describe in this review.
The Den is easy to find. Walking from Sukhumvit one doesn’t have to travel far down Soi 12 before they see the large red building on the left hand side. The sign isn’t the clearest in the world but it isn’t unreadable either. There is a space for parking though most customers arrive on foot, passing a male security guard and going through a set of doors before entering the bar.
The Den is very large considering its purpose. Formerly an overpriced gentlemen’s club that went out of business it is decorated in luxurious red. There are several large couches around, two decent pool tables in the front and a big bar in the middle that is topped with a large aquarium filled with live sharks. Surroundings can only take you so far in the industry but this sort of decor is difficult to find in Bangkok where even some big agogos that rake in big money night after night are dirty and crumbling with terrible smelling little bathrooms.
Other than the security guards out front customers may not have any interactions with people on staff as they enter and even after they are seated. There is usually a DJ near the entrance who must be commended for playing decent music at a level that still allows one to have conversations without straining to hear or be understood. The bar is staffed by one or two other people who make drinks quick enough but don’t really seem to be paying attention to what is going on otherwise.
The main draw of the bar is or at least should be the hostesses. The number of women working can vary from one day to the next but the average at this point seems to be about a dozen. I’m told there may have been more working when the place first opened. The women range in looks with some being unattractive, most being average and one or two being what I would say is truly beautiful. Of course opinions range and someone else may enter the place and think they’ve reached heaven. Overall the staff looks like it could fit at any beer bar though it may be slightly better in the looks department.
The women who work the bar aren’t very warmly welcoming of customers considering that they are supposed to be hostesses. They aren’t cold but they don’t really approach new customers. It seems they prefer to play with their phones or chat with each other. This can be a blessing or a curse depending on where you stand. I don’t know anyone who loves the “hello handsome man come inside” call that is heard outside bars throughout Southeast Asia but on the other hand it is nice to be approached rather than having to hunt down a gal to sit with you.
Most of the women seem to hang around the bar when they are not busy which is often. This place hasn’t become a hot spot yet even if a few foreigners and one or two Thai guys finds their way inside. The lucky women with customers join them to play pool or sit in one of the large comfortable chairs. When new customers are noticed one of the women will come over to take an order. On her way back she may start some small talk and ask to sit down but there are no guarantees. Guys who want to select the woman or women they find attractive will probably have to approach them. This doesn’t require the same kind of moves as a traditional pick up but it may be more than some want to do considering that they’re shelling out cash.
The women are quite friendly and charming once one begins to talk with them. There are a few obviously hardened gals around but for the most part they operate like neighborhood gals might. Most speak at least some level of English. Lady drinks cost 150 Baht ($5 USD) and while there’s no hard push to buy them customers who spend time with the ladies are expected to offer them.
Nothing outrageous goes on in the bar. Guys looking for something like the Star of Light will be sadly disappointed. There may be a bit of dancing but that’s about it on the floor. The couches toward the back on both sides have white mosquito netting tied to the sides. This can be pulled around the couches for customers who want to get a little more comfortable with a gal that they like but this can’t really consist of anything more than what a young couple might do at a movie theater.
Rooms are available at the club for 500 Baht though this isn’t openly advertised. In fact it can even be denied by some of the women who appear to be a little paranoid, though saying a friend has been there before seems to reverse that. The quarters are actually pretty nice and outpace what one might find at a short time hotel near the go go bars.
If a customer wants to take a lady out while she is working he must pay an early work release fee of 1000 Baht ($31). This doesn’t include payment for services rendered. The women want the same kinds of rates women who work beer bars ask for to have any kind of fun outside.
As a nicely laid out bar where it’s easy to relax and actually have some kind of conversation The Den is quite nice. The prices are fair with the possible exception of the 1000 Baht bar fee. A unique enterprise in an area where all sorts of entertainment exist I think The Den deserves a solid three stars. I would give the place a much higher score if it had more or generally more attractive ladies on staff. Those working are nice enough but they are few and far between and they are on par with some of the cheaper bars around town such as those on Soi 22.
The Den. Sukhumvit Soi 12. Bangkok, Thailand. Open seven days a week from 2 pm to 11 pm.