by Santorini Dave • Updated: May 6, 2018
Tranquil, family-friendly and facing a sublime beach. The location is faultless: between dramatic limestone cliffs, the main road with its ample supply of shops and cafés, and a truly magnificent beach. The overall design is attractive, while all rooms are spacious and modern. Very little of the décor hints at Thailand, but the bathroom is elegant, and the sizeable balcony offers views of the tropical gardens; very few rooms have sea views however. One of the two sparkling pools has a swim-up bar, and extras, such as a library, complimentary afternoon tea and check-out lounge, are welcome. Families are also well catered for, with a games room, Kids’ Club and children’s pools. The facing beach, with its turquoise waters and golden sands, all distant from the traffic, can also be admired from the colonial-style seaside restaurant.
Unpretentious, compact and central, yet quiet. One of very few hotels along the beachside road. The rooms, at first sight seem too huddled together, but the overall design and dense tropical foliage does ensure some privacy. The stylish rooms feature lovely warm tones, hand-crafted wooden furniture, an unusual Thai-influenced tiled floor, and a marble-style bathroom. (Large family rooms are also available.) The good-sized balcony overlooks the inviting salt-water pool, with its extensive shade and wooden decking, but some do face the car park. Although squeezed among a vast array of shops, bars and cafés, it is set back from the road and doesn’t suffer the nightclub noise that affects other hotels further along. It is also handy for the boat terminal to Railay beach.
Swanky, likeable and popular with the younger crowds. The namesake blue dominates the décor of the cheerful open-air lobby and breezy bar-cum-café. Rooms are clustered together in seven-storey motel-style blocks facing the limited gardens or the extra-long, sparkling salt-water pool, to which those on the ground floor have direct access from their patio. The blue theme continues with the cushions, curtains and sofa, while the bathtub is oddly undersized and, therefore, probably unusable. Bluesotel does offer a family room accommodating four, but almost all guests are young. They congregate at the pool, which offers no shade, and the attached swim-up bar, which is particularly noisy and would greatly affect the relaxation of others. The hotel is set back from the main road to Krabi, about a seven-minute stroll from the beach, with enough shops, bars and cafés nearby.
Spacious, family-friendly and isolated from crowds. The tasteful Thai and Spanish design is evident throughout, and the landscaped grounds are expansive, while the two split-level pools featuring whirlpools and a swim-up bar are lined with attractive cabanas. Rooms are among five wings of (mostly) motel-style blocks, but the lawns and trees do provide a sense of space and privacy. The massive Superior Room contains a long wooden desk, king-sized bed, tiled balcony facing the gardens, and plenty of Thai decorations. Some rooms on the ground floor have direct access to a pool from the veranda, while the Family Room, with its separate living area, can accommodate two extra children. (The indoor Kids’ Club is gloomy, however.) Located along a quiet dead-end street where Ao Nang meets Noppharat Thara beach, and distant from crowds and nightclubs, it’s within a two-minute stroll of glorious beaches and numerous shops and cafés.
Uncrowded and unique beach frontage, perfect for families. This long-established resort is the only one in Ao Nang to directly face the sea, so the noisy road doesn’t affect the general views or tranquillity. There are many categories of rooms, suites, bungalows and villas, but most don’t actually face the sea. However they do feature a gorgeous contemporary Thai décor, with a wooden floor, bright colours, and extensive views of the gardens or pool from the numerous windows and sizeable balcony. Some are large enough for families, while the suites contain two bedrooms and a separate living area. Plenty of games and activities are on offer, and the massive pool features an unusual ‘pirate’ theme. Extras such as a reading lounge and ample car parking are also welcome. It is wonderfully located where the main road heads temporarily inland, so the sandy beach is hidden from crowds and not lined with thunderous boats.
Chic and convenient, but noisy and stark. The overall design of this boutique resort – box-shaped, sparkling white and almost tree-less – is not particularly welcoming. It offers a number of rooms in newer and older blocks, most with balconies, some without. Most rooms overlook the pools, while those at the back are potentially quieter and face more appealing jungle-clad hills, but no rooms have genuine ‘sea views’. Splashes of purple in the rooms brighten up the black and/or white furnishings and appliances, but with no decorations or Thai-style décor it lacks warmth. The suites are huge, with a bar, separate living area and two sinks, TVs, desks and balconies. Best are the ground floor rooms with direct access to the two pools, oddly side-by-side. While the location sounds ideal – among shops and cafés, and metres from the beach – it suffers badly from nightclub and traffic noise.
Brimming with nature, inviting for families. The Pakasai is bright and airy, and features an adorable contemporary Thai décor throughout. Uniquely set among pristine hillside gardens, it almost feels like a national park, and the Infinity-style pool on the third floor allows the grounds to be smothered with trees and plants. The chalets are modern, colourful and secluded (and romantic), some with a separate living area and kitchenette, while the deluxe version contains an extra bedroom. The spacious standard rooms have an unusual bathroom design and generous balcony with swinging chair. Rooms are accessible via steep paths and surrounded by ponds and foliage which is appreciated by the abundant birdlife. (But any promised ‘sea views’ are distant and not uninterrupted.) A range of engaging activities are offered, and it’s only 500m from the beach in Noppharat Thara, but 15 minutes on foot from Ao Nang, which offers a better range of facilities.
Ambient and idyllic with dramatic setting, yet so central. Reminiscent of a safari lodge in an African game reserve, this blissful resort seems so removed from the traffic and crowds just a stone’s throw away. Set spectacularly under the shadows of the ubiquitous limestone mountains, all cottages face an extended lagoon which is particularly photogenic when reflected room lights twinkle at night. All cottages are detached and octagonal to maximise the all-round views. And inside everything is heavenly: the teak floors extending to the generous balcony perched above the lagoon, Thai-style lampshades and other decorations, Jacuzzi, and window-side sofa (but the ‘Bali-style’ outdoor shower may not be completely private). There are three pools, but the general facilities for children, including the Kids’ Club, are ordinary because most guests are not families. The lobby is 200m off the main road and barely 500m from the beach.
Oh-so hip and a little distant from noisy Ao Nang. About 500m north of the beach in Noppharat Thara, this boutique hotel utilises its limited space admirably, although views from most rooms are unexciting. Despite the grey square design, the Thai-Chinese décor is pleasing, with wall art, hanging lanterns and fold-away screens throughout the lobby, restaurant and rooms. And, as expected, the rooms are colourful and packed with funky furnishings. The two-level Club Room has a stylish design, with the bedroom on a mezzanine level, while the Superior Room extends the oriental theme further with delightful decorations. But perhaps the best are on the ground floor, with direct access to the pool from a veranda with a cabana. The pool, with its swim-up bar, is sizeable but offers no shade. The resort doesn’t suffer the crowds and noise of Ao Nang (15 minutes away on foot), and there’s no shortage of shops and cafés nearby.
Unique, fascinating, personable and not another mega-resort. Surrounded by massive resorts, this boutique hotel offers something unique: a tasteful but subtle Moroccan design, with patterned ceilings and tiles, and a tranquil green décor. And with only a small number of rooms in two blocks, the service is attentive. Rooms feature appealing marble-style furnishings, but the sink is oddly in the bedroom, not the bathroom. Rooms not facing the street are newer and quieter, and have a larger balcony offering glimpses of the surrounding limestone cliffs. Guests can use the wonderful pools and associated facilities at the sister resort next door, the Peace Laguna. Located just off the main road to Krabi, about a five-minute stroll from the beach, it is Islamic in design, but not principles: it serves beer and accepts guests in beachwear.