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Thailand Has Some of the World's Most Beautiful Hotels. Here They Are
Thailand Is a Luxury Travel Magnet, with Magnificent Hotels
Thailand is one of the world's top luxury travel destinations for good reasons. This Southeast Asia go-to has a rich culture, great food, and a tradition of guest service. And Thailand is renowned for its beautiful places to stay: lovely tropical beach resorts and elegant city hotels in glamorous Bangkok.
Here's a look at the best hotels in Thailand.
Amanpuri on Phuket Island
Phuket, a large island in Southern Thailand, is world-famous for its beach resorts and its social scene. But many Phuket visitors are looking for small, quiet boutique hotels with real Thai flavor. Amanpuri, a super-luxury Phuket resort, is credited with originating the Thai temple look that now characterizes many luxury resorts all over Asia. Amanpuri became so renowned that it birthed the entire Aman brand, with 34 resorts in 20 countries as of 2019.
Amanpuri's 83 ultra-private pavilions and villas overlook the turquoise-blue Andaman Sea. They are simply decorated in quiet, elegant Thai style. The resort's many draws include an 80-foot infinity pool, a serene spa, five restaurants, a dine-in wine library, and PADI scuba courses. Its hotel amenities aside, Amanpuri is bliss for a luxury traveler who knows what a great resort is.
Trisara on Phuket
On Phuket, the luxury bar is set high, and Trisara provides every indulgence. Its five dozen tastefully opulent pavilions dot a hillside that leads down one of Phuket's rare private beaches. The beach is idyllic, but guests tend to nest in their pavilions, renovated in 2016. Each accommodation offers private swimming and reflection pools and spacious decks looking out onto the Andaman Sea. Luxury travelers seeking the ultimate hotel bathroom will find it at Trisara, where each pavilion's lounge-like master bathroom plus dressing room span the building's entire width.
Trisara offers a lot to guests who manage to leave their pavilions: the refined Jara Spa, PRU farm-to-table bistro, a seafood restaurant, an in-house video studio, and a 150-foot swimming pool (yes, 150 feet).
Even for luxury travelers who have seen it all, Keemala dazzles. Its 38 villas, seemingly suspended on the jungle hillside, are ultimate design statements. Some resemble birds' nests, others jungle lodges or giant bamboo pods. Inside, they're spacious, sunny, and organic-feeling.
Keemala is not beachfront, but guests can ask for a lift to the nearby beach -- or discover that they prefer to lounge and splash in their villa's private pool. Most Keemala guests are couples seeking a cozy private getaway amidst beauty, and they find it here.
The Naka Island Resort & Spa near Phuket
The Naka Island is pure seduction. Its enchanting setting is a private isle, Naka Yai, off the coast of Phuket. Its endless views encompass the turquoise Andaman Sea and Phang Nga Bay, whose mysterious morning mist tempts hotel guests to arise early with the dawn.
The resort's 67 accommodations are all villas: deluxe tropical mansions that begin at nearly 5,000 square feet (honest). The villas are either garden-view, sea-view, beachfront, or up on the cliff with vistas that stretch to the horizon. Their decor is beachy and elegant and the comfort factor is high thanks to cushy loungers, outdoor daybeds, and blissful outdoor showers and tubs. Some villas have private pools, but fear not: the stunning bi-level resort pool is one of the most inviting hotel swimming holes in Thailand.
Things to do at The Naka Island range from lazing at the exceptional Spa Naka, whose watsu water massage specialty is unparalleled) to complimentary bike loans to all manner of water sports. And the resort offers free speedboat shuttles to buzzy Phuket. This is a family-friendly resort, and young guests are offered their own activities and a game room.
Naka Island is a Marriott Bonvoy (formerly Starwood) property, and members get valuable guest perks like room upgrades, complimentary wifi, and points toward a free stay. Enrollment is free.
Banyan Tree Bangkok
Thailand's capital, Bangkok, is one of Asia's most in-demand urban destinations. No wonder: this vibrant city of nine million offers thrilling nightlife, royal history, unbelievable food, and a range of five-star hotels.
The Banyan Tree is ideally located in the business district, and, as the city's tallest hotel, it delivers breathtaking views of Bangkok from many guest rooms, from the outdoor lap pool, from spa treatment rooms, and from the Vertigo restaurant and Moon Bar on the 61st floor (two of the hottest eateries in town).
All accommodations at Banyan Tree Bangkok are suites with a separate living room. The pleasing decor is modern yet unmistakably Thai. The bathroom is a mini-spa, with a walk-in shower and separate soaking tub. (Of course, the hotel also has a full-service spa.)
Best of all, rooms are remarkably quiet, inviting sound sleep. You'll need it for your next day in nonstop Bangkok.
Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok
The Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok is set on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, for centuries the city's lifeline. One of many pleasures for Mandarin Oriental guests is watching slender dragonboats make their way up, down, and across this fabled waterway. A majority of the hotel's 324 sumptuous rooms and all of its 44 regal suites look out onto the river.
So do the hotel's see-and-be-seen lobby and most of its nine restaurants. The hotel's grande dame French restaurant, Le Normandie, opened in 1958. It was graced with two Michelin stars for 2018, one of only three such restaurants in Bangkok. Mandarin Oriental's other specialty restaurants serve Thai, Chinese, Italian, and BBQ. And for late in the evening, there are bars: a Cuban cigar bar, an American jazz joint, and more.
As thrilling as Bangkok is, quite a few Mandarin Oriental guests find themselves wanting to spend time immersing themselves in this exceptional ultra-luxury hotel.
The Sukhothai Bangkok
The Sukhothai Bangkok, opened in 1991, foresaw its city becoming a globally coveted luxury travel destination. Many hotels built in this decade feel blocky and corporate today. But The Sukhothai was designed in timeless Thai pavilion style and is every bit of the upscale draw that it was two decades ago.
Many commenters on TripAdvisor note that they return to The Sukhothai Bangkok year after year. Almost three-quarters of the hotel's Tripadvisor reviews give it the top rating of Excellent, praising The Sukhothai's classic design, its discreet Thai service, and its quiet, green estate property, so rare in intensely urban Bangkok.
With 210 rooms, The Sukhothai combines the personal feeling of a boutique hotel with the amenities of a city hotel. Guests enjoy high-end amenities such as exceptional in-house dining at Celadon (Thai dishes) and La Scala (Italian). The hotel is an excellent perch for discovering the city; the trendy, lively Silom/Sathorn neighborhood is a five-minute taxi ride (or pleasant 15-minute walk) away.
Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is Thailand's second-biggest city and a center of fashion, architecture, and technology. This northern city is deeply Thai yet also international, with a sizable Western expat community. It seems that everyone wants to experience Chiang Mai.
For many upscale visitors, the place for their Chiang Mai immersion is the beautiful and relaxing Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai. It is set in the countryside around 20 minutes from downtown, offering village and city experiences.
The resort's 99 villas and residences ramble over 20 acres of tropical gardens; a golf-cart lift is never more than a couple of minutes away. Guest quarters are lovely, spacious pavilions ranging from airy studios to endless suites. The decor is refined Thai style, with teakwood floors, rich hand-loomed textiles, and vast bathrooms.
But beyond your door is this ultra-high-end resort's exquisite indoor-outdoor dining, its Rim Tai Kitchen cooking academy, and an inviting spa, gym, and pools. The staff is committed to maximizing the guest experience. As an example: the complimentary early-morning bike tour is led by a watchful and entertaining individual who doesn't mention what his day job is. He's the property's General Manager.
The Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai
The word "palatial" is a cliché when it comes to describing hotels. But Dhara Dhevi was impeccably designed to recreate a Thai royal palace from the Lanna Kingdom era of the 13th through 18th centuries. Indeed, "palatial" is the word that comes to many visitors' minds as they are welcomed by a gong ceremony inside the entrance gates of the resort's 60-acre estate.
The Lanna period was heavily influenced by India, and The Dhara Dhevi's architecture bears the graceful swirls and peaked archways of the Subcontinent. The pool complex, meandering around graceful mansion-like buildings, is enormous and inviting, with fountains, cascades, and private nooks. Guest rooms and suites are among the biggest in Thailand, beginning at 860 square feet (80 square meters).
The 60-acres estate encompasses temple-like Dheva Spa, which, in Ayurvedic fashion, customizes treatments to clients' temperament, physique, and metabolism. Resort fitness options include a state-of-the-art gym, yoga, Muay Thai kickboxing, horseback riding, and cycling. If shopping is your sport, Khad Dara, an open-air arcade, gathers dozens of artisanal boutiques. The resort's superb restaurants serve Thai, Chinese, and French cuisines, and there's a casual café, patisserie, and several bars. Downtown Chiang Mai is only 10 minutes way and the airport 15.
Six Senses Samui on Koh Samui
Koh Samui, an island in the resort region of southern Thailand, is a treasure chest of luxury beach hotels. Six Senses Samui, one of the island's first resorts, is predicated on the concept of sustainability. Its 66 organic-feeling villas range from secluded Hideaway Villas, with jungle (not ocean) views and enhanced privacy to the vast Ocean Front Pool Villa Suite, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, an oversized infinity-edge plunge pool, and panoramic views of the Gulf of Thailand.
The resort takes pride in its green dining, and whenever possible cooks with herbs and produce grown at the hotel or on the island, and srves seafood fished from local waters. The serene Dining on the Rocks restaurant, perched on a bluff, serves up dramatic ocean views as well.
Six Senses is a spa-centric hotel brand, and the resort's Samul Spa embodies the best of the Thai spa tradition. Guest can also relax with yoga and Pilates classes. Guest experiences encompass dawn kayak rides, lessons in Thai cooking, culture, and kickboxing. Exceptional snorkeling and scuba in crystalline waters are a short boat ride away. Young guests have their own activities just for kids.
The resort is set four miles from Samui Airport, which is in turn only a 45-minute flight south of Bangkok. Many guests combine a few nights here with a stay in the capital.
Belmond Napasai on Koh Samui
Belmond is one of the world's highest-end hotel brands, and Belmond Napasai could very well be the most upscale resort on Southern Thailand's exclusive island of Koh Samui. All accommodations are individual villas. Some are beachfront, others are ocean-view, and others are tucked into the resort's private gardens.
The resort is a magnet for active guests. The pool is big and the gym cutting-edge, and both are open 24 hours. Activities on offer include tennis, badminton, windsurfing, snorkeling, and scuba. The concierge can arrange elephant treks, horseback riding, golf, off-road drives, and more. For guests who choose to nest in their villa and spend their time at the resort, spa and culinary offerings are varied and top-notch.
Belmond Napasai is a smart choice for upscale families. Kids can enjoy supervised activities such as nature safaris and close-up looks at the resort's animals (including its gentle water buffaloes).
Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui
Four Seasons' tropical resorts are among the world's most beautiful hotels, and the brand's Koh Samui property is dazzling. It occupies one of the island's choicest settings, a palm tree-covered promontory that slopes down to a completely private beach with sand like white talcum powder. The resort is a working definition of paradise.
All accommodations are villas that are either ocean-view (above the beach) or set right on the beach. Villas are spacious, with soothing sea-blue accents, indulgent bathrooms, and individual decks and plunge pools. (There's a large resort pool beside the beach as well.)
Resort amenities include a superb spa, two standout restaurants (and a don't-miss weekly beach barbecue), many fitness facilities and options, and a kids' club. Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui is very family-friendly but attracts quite a few honeymoon couples as well. Romantic options include candlelit dinner for two on the sand and a curtained beach daybed with a dedicated butler.
Smiling, one-on-one service is a high point of any Four Seasons stay.
Cape Nidhra Hotel on Hua Hin
Hua Hin was a sleepy fishing village until the 1920s, when members of the Thai royal family built summer palaces there. Set three hours from Bangkok, the town became instantly popular with Thai weekenders. Over the decades Hua Hin has grown to international prominence as a Bangkok-convenient waterfront playground specializing in aquatic sports.
With only 60 rooms, Cape Nidhra Hotel is not a rambling resort. It is a friendly boutique hotel offering extreme privacy and service -- right on the beach. Its guests come in search of a stylish escape with a partner, and they find it here. All rooms are suites with a pool and a deck that's the frequent site of romantic dinners for two. (Suites' bathtubs are built for two as well.)
Cape Nidhra's striking contemporary modern esthetic is strong on glass and gleaming teakwood -- and its clientele is just as trend-conscious. The hotel's bar is one of the most popular in Hua Hin. Dress for it.
The property is a member of Small Luxury Hotels, a sure sign of quality. Guests tend to rave about Cape Nidhra on TripAdvisor, and many return each year for their Thai beach vacation in a fashionable beach town.
Anantara Hua Hin Resort
Set in Hua Hin's garden district near the royal family's nearly century-old Golden Teak Palace, Anantara Hua Hin Resort was built to resemble an aristocratic Thai estate. It's an ongoing photo op of lotus pools, stone walkways, and pavilion-roofed villas. The property is notably quiet and private-feeling, all the more so considering that Hua Hin is a busy, social getaway town under three hours from Bangkok.
Anantara Hua Hin is a medium-sized hotel with 190 accommodations. Furnished in Thai woods and fabrics, rooms and suites are the picture of subtle, tasteful Thai elegance. Guests are offered all the amenities and diversions of a big Thai resort: varied dining and a cooking school, a spa, gym, Muay Thai boxing ring, beach cabanas and daybeds. Service is impeccable.
This hotel was the first property of the Thai-owned Anantara brand, which has expanded throughout Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. These people know what makes a luxury hotel succeed.
Evason Hua Hin Resort
Evason Hua Hin is off the beaten path in Hua Hin, far enough from the hubbub to be truly tranquil, yet a 20-minute ride to the center of the action. The property occupies over 20 acres of tropical gardens and flower-laden lakes. The resort caters to couples and families alike, promising (and delivering) a green escape from the frantic modern world (and from bustling Bangkok three hours' drive away).
This is a sustainable resort with authentic, personal service. Evason Hua Hin's attention to detail extends to its stylish, eco-friendly decor and its beautifully crafted cuisine and cocktails.
Evason Hua Hin offers 196 guest rooms, suites, and villas notable for their natural look and unusual comfort level. All accommodations feature and indulgent bathroom and a balcony or terrace with a plush daybed. This hotel was made for lounging.
But activities abound, from daily cycling tours to "living food" cooking classes to swimming in the beachfront pool. And the Six Senses Spa is nothing short of restorative. Young guests have their own kids' club; everyone's happy here.
Chiva-Som International Health Resort in Hua Hin
Opened in 1995 in a pioneering wave of wellness resorts, Chiva-Som continues to reign as one of the world's leading mind-body retreats. It claims exceptionally loyal repeat guests who return annually for a personal tuneup and who post TripAdvisor comments like "best spa in the world," "this place just keeps getting better and better," and "worth every penny." (The resort is all-inclusive, covering the bulk of spa treatments and health consultations.)
Chiva-Som is a beachfront resort that combines holistic nutrition and health enhancement with Thai hospitality. Guests come to improve themselves body and soul by working in the gym, lazing on the beach, indulging in the spa. An array of one-on-one specialists customize guest wellness programs that can be followed at home after the Chiva-Som experience.
Following a year-long renovation, the resort reopened in 2016 with a fresh face. Its 58 accommodations were enlarged and refreshed and dining venues redesigned. (Menus, too: the food is healthful but delicious, yet most guests lose several pounds). Chiva-Som attracts couples and solo travelers for stays of a few nights to a few weeks.
Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, on Krabi
Phulay Bay is a super-high-end resort that was the first property in the elite Ritz-Carlton Reserve collection, the ultimate category of Ritz-Carlton Hotels & Resorts.
Phulay Bay opened in 2010 and annually garners peak accolades from eCondé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, Robb Report, Tripadvisor.com, and Forbes (the hotel-star-awarders; Phulay Bay owns five stars).
The resort's 54 individually decorated villas range from opulent to palatial. Some villas have ocean views from their hillside perch, while others are set a few yards from the shore. Every villa is magnificently designed and a pleasure to inhabit. Standard amenities include oversized beds, walk-in closets, vast bathrooms with indoor and outdoor showers and soaking tubs, and a terrace or patio that's more like an outdoor lounge. Every accommodation has a private butler who's very involved with your stay and helps you maximize your time here.
Phulay Bay's Thai food is authentic and delicious, and its spa is impressive in design and expertise. There's a first-class gym, but few guests miss the chance to swim, snorkel, and otherwise relish the surrounding Andaman Sea, with waters the shade of a turquoise milkshake. This is a very special resort. Find out more right here on TripSavvy.
Anantara Rasananda on Koh Phangan
Anantara Rasananda is a little out of the way. To get there, you fly from Bangkok to Koh Samui island and then board a half-hour speedboat (or longer ferry) to the resort. Is it worth it? It is if you're looking for a total getaway in blissful, palm-shaded tropical surroundings. The resort perches on the quietest corner of resort-laden Koh Phangan, with only a tiny Thai village up the hill. The property's tranquil, even sleepy, vibe is what repeat guests love most about it. (Every guest soon finds their place of peace here: perhaps it's their villa's plunge pool, or the Thai massage room at Anantara Spa, or maybe the yoga platform high above the sea, or possibly a sea-bed in the resort pool, being tickled by underwater jets).
The 64 guest quarters are all villas or suites appealingly furnished in modern Thai eco-chic with a touch of Boho whimsy; after all; Koh Phangan is the island that hosts the monthly rave known as the Full Moon Party.
Each accommodation flaunts a private pool and lots of indoor-outdoor space. The Garden and Lagoon suites, set away from the beach, are the most private and typically requested by romantic couples.
As at many Thai resorts, breakfast is included. Lunch and dinner are served at a friendly beachfront cafe and a lantern-lit bistro led by a gifted Thai chef.
Soneva Kiri on Koh Kood
Soneva Kiri is for connoisseurs of authentic Thailand. It is set on the rarely visited island of Koh Kood far to the east, only miles from Cambodia's coast. This unspoiled dot of land shelters stretches of jungle, fishing villages, and a sprinkling of serene hotels.
Soneva Kiri is the most upscale beach resort on Koh Kood, with only 36 villas. They are all enormous, with private pools and earthy design. The property is sustainable and honors a profound commitment to the island's ecosystem.
Soneva Kiri offers every imaginable diversion that the sea, sand, and sun can provide. Mealtime is a particular delight thanks to innovative restaurants like Benz's (a "no-menu" concept), the Dining Room (where the seating is daybeds), and The View (European fine dining with an Asian twist), and Treepod Dining (you're hoisted high up in the palms, and your waiter travels by zipline). The resort offers an astronomy observatory, outdoor movies, a full-service, East-meets-West Six Senses Spa, and a children's den for young travelers to this family-friendly resort. This is a lot of hotel for just a hundred or so guests.
Zeavola on Phi Phi Island
Even in the sun-and-fun mecca that is Southern Thailand, Koh Phi Phi is known as a party island. But the northern end of this island runs at a much slower place. This is the setting of Zeavola Resort, arrayed on the breathtaking Laem Thing beach. It resembles a rustic Thai village, but as soon as guests have been welcomed in gracious Thai style, they know they're in for a pure luxury retreat.
The resort's 53 accommodations dot the social beachfront and run up the tranquil hillside, where guest villas feature private pools. The villas are constructed of gleaming teakwood and flow from indoor to outdoor spaces, like traditional Thai houses.
Zeavola is a sustainable resort and very nature-oriented. Guests can opt for jungle and beach walks with an island expert or scuba lessons from the on-site PADI dive center (Phi Phi Island's thriving reefs and thrilling night dives await). Zeavola Spa treatments are enhanced by balms and oils made of island-grown ingredients like coconut, tamarind, and mangosteen. Two restaurants tempt guests with luscious Thai and Mediterranean cuisine and regular fresh seafood feasts.
Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle near Chiang Rai
Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle is not your usual Thai resort. Its three-and four-night getaways promise a soul-enriching nature encounter with Thailand's prized wildlife, its Asian elephants. Guests will watch them, meet them, ride them, get to know them.
At this camp, guests do not ride around on safari but stay in one place: in deluxe, teak-and-brass-furnished tents with air-conditioning and a private balcony for lounging and animal-viewing. Resort lures include a freeform pool beside the Mekong River, a spa, good wifi, and butler service.
The camp is priced on an all-inclusive basis. Elephant trekking and other nature activities are included, as are a spa treatment and round-trip transfer to Chiang Rai airport, under an hour away. All meals are part of the deal, too. Nong Yao Restaurant finesses Thai, Laotian, Burmese and Western recipes, and open-air Burma Bar serves cocktails and Northern Thai delicacies. The Wine Cellar serves international and Thai wines. Try one. You're here for adventure (and to be around elephants).
Anantara Tented Camp Golden Triangle
Anantara Tented Camp Golden Triangle is a high-end, good-value jungle resort in a rarely-seen location: the verdant triangle of Northern Thailand bordering Myanmar and Lao. Here, beside the mighty Mekong River, is the heart of elephant territory. The hotel furnishes guests with unforgettable encounters with Asian elephants in the wild and in "elephant treks": exploring the countryside on the back of a magnificent creature. Guests come away with a reverence for elephants, who have their own language and conduct funerals for their dead.
Many guests elephant-trek every day of their stay. But the resort also offers a spa, pool, gym, yoga, bike loans, longtail boat rides, two excellent restaurants. The rate is all-inclusive, covering meals, room minibar, wifi, and round-trip transfers to Chiang Rai's airport. Guests get a lot here, and elephant memories too -- the kind you don't forget.
Six Senses Yao Noi in Phang Nga Bay
Southern Thailand's Phang Nga Bay is known for its magical landscape of lush jungle and majestic white limestone formations. Such is the view of Six Senses Yao Noi, arrayed over 24 magical acres of Ko Yao Noi island. This resort is rated #1 on the island by TripAdvisor members: over 90% assign it an Excellent rating.
All 55 guest villas are spacious and inviting, with a private pool, furnished decks, and stylish, natural decor. This sustainable resort has even stopped serving imported water, bottling its own crystal-clear H2O from an underground spring. It's served al over the resort and in a dedicated Water Bar. (Another Six Senses innovation to try here: aerial yoga, performed in a body-hugging swing.)
Many guests come to nest with their travel companion, lounging by the beach, pool, and their own villa. But resort activities abound: watersports, kayaking and boating, trekking, cycling, Thai boxing. Six Senses Spa is designed like a Long House Suite of Northern Thailand, with gleaming teakwood and lotus ponds. Signature treatments include flexibility-enhancing Thai massage, body wraps with turmeric and lemongrass, and an anti-aging facial involving collagen-stimulating silk cocoons. The Dining Room restaurant features organic European cuisine, while the Living Room focuses on Thai, tandoori, seafood, and pizza. This resort is a favorite of couples, but children are invited and entertained.