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The gorgeous rainforested island of Phuket is one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations. Travelers from around the world come to lounge in this lush paradise, enjoying the gorgeous sunsets and warm waters that greet you daily. Many of Phuket’s lodging options are inclusive resorts, complete with restaurants and shopping, that there’s no reason to leave. Visitors who’d like to spend more time exploring the island certainly have the option, and there’s plenty to see, but the beach (whether for swimming or just gazing) is the main draw for most tourists, and if that includes you, choose your hotel or resort carefully.
Best Overall: Andara Resort and Villas
Choose from a beautifully-appointed suite or a decadent villa (complete with private infinity pool) at this luxurious oceanview resort. Décor in the guestrooms and villas is tastefully elegant, with lots of warm wooden furniture and accents and pale-colored fabrics. Both suites and villas include full kitchens, dining and living areas.
Amenities include a full-service spa offering Thai, Ayurveda, Swedish and Javanese-style massages, as well as body treatments, salon services and a steam room. A large on-site gym has a variety of top-of-the-line exercise equipment, as well as classes, from yoga to Muay Thai. A kids’ club, complete with trained staff, playground facilities, and tons of toys and guided activities is a draw for families with children. The Silk Restaurant and Bar serves upscale contemporary Thai food (plus a simple kids’ menu for less-adventurous younger visitors) in a gorgeous poolside setting or via room service. Andara does not have a private beach, but shuttles run to the next-door Kamara Beach all day, and hotel staff can offer lounging set-ups, towels and bottled water.
Best Budget: Navatara Phuket Resort
Navatara Phuket is a remarkably affordable hotel-style resort property located near the southern tip of Phuket. All rooms overlook a landscaped courtyard featuring an enormous saltwater swimming pool, and some deluxe rooms have balconies as well. Rooms are beautifully decorated in a Thai-inspired modern style, with dark wood furniture and red and orange accents and Thai artwork. Bathrooms include a rain-style shower and a separate bathtub.
Breakfast, which is included with your stay, is a huge buffet-style spread featuring eggs to order and an impressive selection of tropical fruit. Tara Restaurant also offers modern twists on Thai traditions at lunch and dinner. A full-service spa is on-site, as well. The Navatara is not directly on a beach but is a short walk from Rawai Beach. Free shuttles also take guests to Promthep Cape, the southernmost point of the island, to watch the glorious sunsets, as well as all-day service to Nai-Harn Beach, Ya-Nui Beach, and the Rawai Fish Market and village, for a taste of real Thai culture.
Best Boutique: BYD Lofts
The fully-serviced apartment-style suites at this hotel in trendy Patong combine comfort with impeccable contemporary style. Rooms, which include full kitchens, are sleekly appointed in black and white with metal accents and bright modern art on the walls. Bathrooms are marble and outfitted with gorgeous modern features. Luxe high-thread-count sheets and goose-down pillows are found on each bed. All rooms offer a balcony, and a rooftop pool makes for a gorgeous getaway spot. BYD Lofts are located in central Patong, a short walk from the beach, as well as to plenty of shopping, dining and nightlife.
Best for Families: JW Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa
A fully-outfitted kids’ club, a children’s pool, a video game room, kid-friendly dining options, a beautiful private beach, and an amazing turtle sanctuary within walking distance are just some of the things that will greet excited younger travelers at this massive resort on the north end of Phuket Island. An added bonus: it’s only 20 minutes from the airport, so cranky cabin-feverish post-flight kids don’t have long to wait before they can stretch their legs.
Parents will also love the extensive list of amenities here at the JW Marriott Phuket: There are multiple restaurants and bars, several pools, a full-service spa, health center, salon and barber services, cooking classes, a small drugstore, 24-hour room service, complimentary bicycle rentals and tons more. The whole family will enjoy the lush, landscaped grounds, as well as the beautifully-appointed rooms, which are decorated in pale browns and blues in a contemporary Thai style. Family-style suites with separate children’s bedrooms are available.
Best Romance: Banyan Tree Phuket
For the ultimate in romantic bliss, book a private villa at this gorgeous island hideaway. With their delicate Thai-style decor and fabulous features like an open-air bathtub large enough for two and a private plunge pool and shaded deck, you’ll never want to leave. Nor do you have to — room service is available.
If you can bring yourself to get emerge from your room, you might also consider booking the absurdly romantic “Dinner of the Senses,” a luxury dining experience at a table for two in the middle of the hotel’s lagoon, reachable only by a traditional Thai longtail boat. Couples' massages are available either in your villa or in the full-service on-site spa, and additional couples-friendly amenities include private yoga or cooking classes, sunset river cruises, kayak tours, tennis courts, a full golf course and full beach services.
Best Luxury: Trisara
Peeking out from a terraced hillside overlooking an exquisite stretch of secluded beach, the decadent private villas of Trisara, with their individual infinity pools, offer flawless understated luxury to the most discerning guests. Rooms are appointed in chic neutral tones, with warm wooden furniture and fine fabrics.
The beach is a particularly excellent one, fringed by a coral reef that’s great for snorkeling. The resort offers top-of-the-line amenities, including options for day cruises on a fleet of yachts, helicopter tours of the bay, private tours of Phuket Town, gourmet cooking classes, an in-villa barbecue from a private chef and more. A full-service spa and two extraordinary fine dining options are also on site.
Best Nightlife: KEE Resort and Spa
Younger travelers and singles will particularly love this chic modern resort hotel with a rooftop bar and several dining options, right in the heart of the nightlife district in trendy Patong. Rooms are brightly appointed with pops of lime green or purple and rainfall-style showers (suites also have bathtubs). A gorgeous on-site pool (complete with swim-up bar) offers a place to lounge during the day, and should you overindulge, a Thai massage at the full-service onsite spa should whisk your hangover away.
Best Beach: Surin Phuket
If long, lazy days by the beach are your vacation goal, you won’t find a better place than the beachside lounge chairs at the luxurious Surin Phuket, with its gorgeous stretch of private white sand. If you like to actually enter the water, the Surin offers a variety of complimentary water sports equipment, from snorkels to kayaks to body boards.
Chic, minimalist lodgings, both suite-style and cottage-style, let the lush surroundings take center stage. Three excellent restaurants and two bars will keep you well-sustained, and should you need a break from the sun and sand, yoga classes, tennis courts, a chic boutique and a full-service spa are all available on site.
Best Hostel: Fin Hostel Phuket
Though Phuket is known for luxury resorts, it’s also a popular stopover for backpackers, and several excellent hostels are available around the island. The Fin Hostel is the best of the crop, with its comfy beds, bright-colored and well-decorated public areas and exceedingly friendly staff. It’s a particular favorite for surfers, and the fabulous Kata Beach is less than a five-minute walk away. A well-appointed shared kitchen, a rooftop pool and regular movie nights and other group activities round out the amenities.