The area i lived in in Bangkok is not only hosting one of the worlds largest university (0,5 millions students) but also a great nightmarket and a excellent ferry in to town. It is the suburbs of Ramkanghaeng and it’s different districts I am talking about. There are not many “farang” (tourists / foreigners) there so it is a genuine thai area. Of course there are malls and on the streets around 5 pm the sellers starts to pick their stuff up but if one continue a bit further down to the Rajamangala Stadium you will find the market I was talking about.
From what I saw there was only one farang there and that was me.
When taking the ferry “home” at night also I was normally the only farang and every night someone asked me where I was going since it was the last ferry of the night they wanted to make sure I wouldn’t get stuck in the suburb…
I have been to 2 different hotels there The seasons Huamark (on 5 Soi Ramkanghaeng 15) and Chaleena Hotel (on 122 Lat Prao road) and they are both ok. Both have pools tho The seasons is closed for another 3 months (untill july 2014). Cheap hotels who basically are clean and cool (both with AC). I did enjoy my stay at Chaleena a bit more because of the big market just around the corner.
This area is located in the eastern parts of Bangkok wich means they are close to the airport and the airport link stops at Ramkamhaeng. The ferry takes maybe 30-40 minutes to central bangkok (walking distance to Siam Square and MBK) and is a pleasant ride without traffic jams and all stress of Bangkok streets.
If you want genuine Bangkok, with easy access to airport and the city area then I think you should stay in this area.