PHUKET: Every now and again, there's a surprise in Patong that doesn't bring the police at the run or leave a tourist bemoaning a huge tuk-tuk fare.
With a bit of help from her partners, Dalinee Rueangkanokkun has created an innovative establishment that sets the pace for Patong's future, in intriguing ways.
As resorts go, this one is minuscule - just 10 rooms - but muscular. Ella is as tightly put together as a six-pack abdomen.
In Soi Post Office, just a tailor tout's yodel from Patong's famous Soi Bangla walking street, Khun Dalinee and co nabbed a couple of shop fronts, demolished them and created something altogether different.
The concept of bar*bistro*bed is what Ella delivers, in sparse and unconventional urban chic fashion.
After ten thousand cluttered guesthouses and a million soggy beer bars, Ella comes as a pure delight.
Having said that, this place is not easy to describe. ''Simplicity is never easy,'' says Khun Dalinee, and how right she is.
While there are times when concrete is Phuket's biggest problem, Ella manages to make it work in intriguing and delightful ways.
Above the ground floor, an atrium flies up through the whole structure, with wooden interior panels that open from the rooms.
Guests in rooms on either side of the atrium can open the panels and talk to each other, the way folks once could across the laneways of Europe.
The lighting is stark and memorable, with loose cords wrapped in knots that are reminiscent of the cabling tangles on Phuket streets.
The trip upstairs, through a huge heavy-hinged door, feels as though it is the beginning of a great adventure.
Ever felt the need to want to talk to someone on the balcony while you're in the bathroom? Ella meets that need with more craftily placed wooden panels.
In the superior rooms, the bath and the shower occupy a huge space with a long trough linking them along one wall.
Independent reports say the food in the bistro downstairs is excellent. And there's one great idea that we hadn't come across before.
When you book at Ella, you're entitled to one meal as part of the tarrif. So that means, you get to choose which meal you want.
It doesn't have to be breakfast. If you are going on a day trip early, you can order a takeaway, or settle for a dinner when you get back.
The pancakes are said to be sensational.
A stay at Ella comes well above the usual Patong guesthouse rack rate but the experience makes the difference. Expect more pleasant Patong surprises.
Ella Bar*Bistro*Bed is a candidate for Phuketwan's Phuket Resort of the Year 2013. Ella, 100/19-20 Soi Permpongpattana (Soi Post Office) Thaweewong, Patong, Phuket 83150. Tel: 081 5401267/0807850996 E: email@example.com