Mr Hudson on luxury hotels in Koh Samui, Thailand
Thailand has its fair share of spectacular islands boasting white sand beaches, swaying palms and aquamarine water. But when it comes to the ultimate in cosmopolitan luxury, there’s perhaps no better Thai destination than Koh Samui.
Thailand’s third largest island, Koh Samui has long been a popular spot on the tourist trail. Once a destination primarily for budget backpackers, Koh Samui has since transformed into a haven of first-rate spas, innovative international cuisine, and, of course, five-star boutique resorts. What’s more, private residences hidden away in upmarket neighbourhoods are enticing more and more travellers to stay a bit longer in paradise than originally planned.
Stylish Koh Samui attracts its share of A-listers, but it remains humble, teeming with traditional gems and natural wonders. Explore the lush rainforest, adventure to serene waterfalls, or take in the awe-inspiring Buddhist temples and monuments. Or, simply bask in an infinity pool overlooking the sea between spa sessions and cocktails. There truly is something for every type of traveller in Koh Samui.
Banyan Tree Samui
Luxurious accommodation abounds
With so many fabulous resorts to choose from, it can be nearly impossible to decide at which one to lay your head. The easiest way to begin navigating the choices is to determine what part of the island calls to you.
Chaweng Beach is perhaps the island’s most famous beach; it’s also the epicentre of gay nightlife and Koh Samui’s famed late-night beach parties. The Library is one of the few five-star boutique hotels in the area. Capitalising on minimalism, The Library strives to be “a blank page on which to write your story.” If it sounds unique, that’s because it is. The conceptual resort has been voted Thailand’s trendiest hotel. In particular, it’s known for its bold red pool featuring stunning orange, yellow and red mosaic tiles.
For the ultimate in extravagance, there’s nowhere quite like the Banyan Tree Samui. Spectacular villas with private infinity pools are nestled away on a rocky hill overlooking picture-perfect Lamai Bay. Additional details such as floor-to-ceiling windows, individual hosts designated to each villa and limousine tours ensure you’ll want for no need. Even if you don’t stay at the Banyan Tree Samui, venture out for a meal at its renowned restaurant, Saffron.
And if you prefer to get away from it all, then we recommend Six Senses Samui. Expect striking wooden villas and panoramic views of the surrounding rainforest and the Gulf of Siam. The beautiful hotel is located on Koh Samui’s northern tip, promising intimate seclusion. Take a dip in Six Senses’ stunning infinity pool, or opt to cool off in your villa’s own private plunge pool.
Six Senses Samui | Photo: Six Senses
Luscious spa treatments in the rainforest
Thailand is known for its massages and spa treatments, and Koh Samui takes the prize for the vast number of first-rate facilities on offer. Most resorts and hotels will have their own spa, but don’t be shy about exploring other options.
Start off by pampering yourself with a visit to the magical Tamarind Springs Spa. This exotic spa is tucked away down a palm-fringed path in the rainforest. All massage treatments come with the option to enjoy the facilities unique “Steam and Dream” feature, or an hour and a half in a natural herbal steam cave and cold-water rock pool. Tamarind Springs Spa has a strict policy that all phones, cameras, and gadgets stay turned off, so you’ll have no trouble fully disconnecting from the outside world as you nourish your mind, body, and soul.
Continue your luxurious getaway with a visit to the Cave Rai Rai Spa, located on the spectacular Choeng Mon Beach. As the name suggests, this spa is located in a magnificent cave, just feet from the water’s edge. Each massage suite boasts its own Jacuzzi, open-air bathroom, and quaint lily pond. We recommend the two and a half hour Cave Rai Rai package, including herbal steam jacuzzi, elaborate body scrub, and aroma massage.
Finally, no Koh Samui spa tour would be complete without mentioning Amezcua Spa. This chic resort is conveniently located just moments from the iconic Big Buddha statue. Each treatment at Amezcua comes complete with a footbath and chakra balancing session. Splurge on the three and a half hour “Touch of Siam” package to enjoy a bit of everything, including the spa’s Thai herbal steam room, jacuzzi bath, body scrub or body wrap, and choice of massage treatment.
Lamai Beach South | Photo: Dan Moore
Where to reserve a table
Dating back some 20 years, Poppies could very well be the most famous restaurant on Koh Samui. Luckily, its long reputation does not disappoint. Chef Khun Wantanee, a Koh Samui native, brings innovative South Thai flavours to this stunning beachfront restaurant. To sample the best of everything, try their signature kantokes, or set meals. Visit on a Saturday evening and enjoy traditional Thai dancing and music as you satiate your palette.
If you’re ready for a break from Thai cuisine, hop over to Duomo, a mouth-watering Italian restaurant that is surprisingly authentic. Generous portions, fresh ingredients, and friendly owners set the stage for a memorable meal. The pasta and seafood continually receive rave reviews. Or, for one of the most undeniably romantic options in Koh Samui, try the small French restaurant The Boudoir. Here you’ll find iconic French fare such as duck confit and pasta with foie gras.
And, of course, for a fantastic view, head to Dr Frogs. Its unique location atop the cliffs provides for sweeping vistas of the surrounding coastline. Just outside of Chaweng Beach, Dr Frogs is an excellent choice for a few cocktails before painting the town at the best nearby gay bars and clubs.
No matter where you go in Koh Samui, you’re bound to fall in love with the island’s stunning serenity and first-rate facilities. Just don’t be surprised if a few days slips into a few weeks.
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Photo: Dan Moore
Photo: Dan Moore
Poppies | Photo: Dan Moore
Sunset Beach | Photo: Dan Moore
Dr Frogs | Photo: Dan Moore
Lamai Beach | Photo: Dan Moore
Tamarind Forest Spa | Photo: Dan Moore
Grandfather and Grandmother Stone | Photo: Dan Moore