Updated: May 6, 2018
Prime location, delightful setting but a little dated. This modest resort offers a collection of bungalows facing the beachside path, and rooms at the back of the surprisingly spacious gardens. Bungalows are detached and comfortable enough, but look old-fashioned and have a tiny balcony; some directly face other bungalows, while none have sea views. Better are the rooms with a classy bathroom and Thai décor to match the appealing brown-and-white exterior of the block with its ornamental roof. But this part of the island is very busy, with day-trippers arriving for lunch, everyone strolling along the nearby path, and boats lining the beach, so finding a stretch of sand or calm water nearby is problematic. The pool is too close to the beachside path and undersized, but the overwhelming attractions are the setting, facing a bay of turquoise water backed by limestone cliffs, and convenience to the port and downtown, without being affected by nightclub noise.
Unpretentious, comfortable, central and attractive. Considering the congested location, the grounds are sizeable and the gardens surrounding the pool are shady. It offers charming detached bungalows with a triangular roof, but they need redecorating and the pool seems inadequate. Rooms in the lovely brown-and-white block at the back are better: spacious, with tasteful decorations, dark wood-grain furnishings and a sliding door to the undersized balcony, but those in the wing across the street are less appealing. The location is excellent, however: a short stroll to downtown (without being affected by nightclub noise) and 50m from the sea – but finding calm waters and sand among boats in this part of the island involves a short stroll. It is also on the corner of the surprisingly busy beachside path and walking street that conveniently heads north (past the quiet mosque).
Secluded and spacious, with spectacular setting but steep paths. The Arayaburi is spread out, ensuring privacy among villas, and the setting is magnificent: amid forested hills and facing the bay of azure waters and limestone cliffs. But paths connecting the villas are long and steep, and downtown is a strenuous 30-minute walk. (The hotel offers buggies to villas, and free boat transfers to/from the port.) Most bungalows are detached, and all are spacious and very comfortable with a floor-to-ceiling window and generous balcony with plentiful seating, but most sea views are not uninterrupted. Further up the hill, the Grand Deluxe Villas are roomier and offer even more superlative panoramas of the ocean. The resort shares an undersized pool with a swim-up bar in a pristine forest with its sister, the Bay View (where guests check in). And the modest Beach Club is alongside a small rocky beach in front of the Bay View, while another pocket of sand facing the Arayaburi is virtually private.
Functional, convenient, spacious and wow views. It’s mostly about the location: set on a shady hillside facing the postcard-perfect bay of sapphire waters and limestone mountains, and within walking distance of the port and downtown. This popular resort is spread out, admirably avoiding the temptation to overbuild, but some paths are steep, and villas further up involve strenuous walks (although buggies are available). Most villas are detached and separated by 10m, ensuring some privacy. All are raised to maximise sea views, but most vistas are partially obstructed. The villas are comfortable, without being opulent, and feature a floor-to-ceiling window and sizeable balcony with plentiful seating. The Beach Club alongside the sliver of rocks and sand facing the lobby is modest, but this part of the bay is not used by the public and distant from thunderous boats. Although undersized, the pool, shared with the sister Arayaburi resort, has a swim-up bar and lovely forest setting.
A real gem: elegance, convenience and unique twin-beach frontage. It is almost inconceivable that something this wonderful could be so close to the port and downtown (barely 200m to either). As classy and serene as any resort in the remote northern coves, the Cabana is surrounded by dramatic limestone mountains and faces two beaches: Ton Sai (location of the lobby) and Loh Dalum (which the pool faces). What’s more, the resort oozes some genuine colonial charm, with stylish balustrades and palm-choked courtyards. Most rooms are angled towards the sea, and all are elegant, with an understated Thai décor and gorgeous wooden furniture, and overlook the pool and sea from a generous balcony. Suites also feature a Jacuzzi. Although nothing is really set up for families (which is normal on Phi Phi), this is a wonderful option for those with children, especially with the stunning lagoon-shaped pool massive enough for several ‘islands’ of palm trees.
Honest, mid-range and convenient in a congested area. Admirably, in such a congested area of the island, there is a garden and lawn, but most sea views are blocked by the beachside path and its line of trees. Most of the comfortable and spacious bungalows are separated, while those that are semi-detached and close to the beachside path would be noisy. Rooms in the motel-style block lack some charm, but are newer and quieter. The marine-style décor is endearing, with decorations of fish and carved sea creatures, but the tiny balconies are of minimal use; some face an adjoining hotel rather than the gardens and sea. The hotel is where downtown, with all its day-trippers and night-clubbers, meets a strip of mid-priced resorts. Barely 20m from the sea, finding a quiet stretch of water and sand however, involves a short stroll.
Great downtown location and beachfront setting for the party crowd. Although part of the more upmarket PP Princess Resort, the Charlie is separate and caters almost exclusively for the younger set enjoying a two-star motel that shares facilities with a four-star resort. The adjoining Charlie and Princess resorts are in surprisingly spacious grounds squeezed between downtown, with its boisterous maze of clubs, bars and mini-marts, and the serene Loh Dalum beach, with golden sands, limestone cliffs and an absence of thunderous boats. The Charlie has its own pool, but guests can wallow in the exceptional pool facing the sea at the Princess. Rooms, which are comfortable and functional, just like a motel, will be partially renovated in 2017. Some are considerably smaller than others or have no balconies, but guests who party all night and sleep all day don’t care.
Old and new, quiet and convenient, with extensive lawns. The Gypsy has a split personality: rows of pink huts seemingly dating from the 1970s, and modern two-level blocks of rooms. Wonderfully located along the path between Loh Dalum bay and Ton Sai beach, it’s walkable to both beaches, downtown and the port, and faces a rare patch of grass the size of a soccer field. The huts (grandly labelled as ‘bungalows’), with red walls, a blue floor and pink bathroom, are simply furnished and comfortable. The balcony is a decent size, and they’re a pleasing distance from each other. With photos of local beach scenes and a colourful stylish décor, the rooms in the block are very appealing. Rooms on the ground level face the pool, while those on the second floor have views of the lawn. All guests can use the alluring pool, with plenty of room for sunbathing and a kids’ pool attached.
Cute, cosy and conveniently in (noisy) downtown. This stylish boutique resort boasts a perfect location for anyone wanting access to the myriad of bars, clubs and cafés among the maze of downtown. Rooms are in attractive three-level motel-style blocks that face inward, helping to buffer the inevitable nightclub noise. Comfortable, with contemporary furnishings, a splash of Thai decorations and a subdued colour scheme, they overlook the L-shaped pool with a bar and of course, palm trees. Rooms on the ground level have direct pool access from a veranda with wooden lounge chairs, while those on the upper floors are more spacious, thereby halving the size of the balcony and making it barely usable. Although within walking distance of two beaches and the port, it’s not easy to find among the labyrinth of laneways, and is among a congested and raucous area.
Remarkable setting, convenient location, tranquil beach. Perched beneath limestone cliffs, this remarkable five-storey resort dominates all views of Ton Sai Bay. While the exterior appears outdated, the overall design is so bright and airy. There are noisy rooms with pool access on the ground floor facing the beach, while some on the third floor face an extraordinary pool stretching along the edge of level three. The edges of this pool seem to drip into the ocean about 20m below, and all rooms above ground level boast awe-inspiring sea views. Suites feature a dining table and fully-equipped kitchen, and could easily accommodate an extra single bed. Barely 700m from downtown and the port, it’s the last resort along the bay, so there are few noisy boats or people along this sliver of golden sand with angled palms.
Peculiar name, trendy design, admirable location. The overall vibe of this trendy new resort is of young people wanting to be close to – but not staying in – all the action of downtown, barely 700m away. Mostly concrete and glass, there is a patch of grass dotted with statues of egrets and flamingos, and the beach, which is devoid of boats and the public, offers white sand and turquoise water flanked by mountains. The décor in most rooms is similar, with a window-side sofa, corner desk, balcony of minimal use unless on a higher floor, and teal-coloured bathroom (some without a wall separating the bedroom). Rooms are compact, bordering on cramped, but it’s all about the views which range from dismal (i.e. facing a wall) to utterly superlative from the third-level suite. The pool – with a whirlpool and kids’ splash area – faces the beach, and the hangout lounge with dartboard and library is convivial.
Charming two-star homestay with a five-star setting. This is the first, and arguably the best, of a cluster of homestays and self-proclaimed ‘resorts’ north of the eastern end of Loh Dalum Bay. It is 200m along a path which becomes progressively steep further along, so the ViewPoint is still within walking distance of the beach, downtown and port. It also boasts one of the finest pool positions on the island, with idyllic views of the curved bay backed by striking limestone mountains. These vistas are also shared with the café, on-site dive centre and collection of individually-coloured bungalows of bright pink, blue or green. Each is detached and so likeable, with windows on two sides and a balcony for mostly unobstructed sea views. Inside, there are more vivid colours and simple, comfortable furniture. The newer and more spacious bungalows up the hill involve a strenuous walk. The views are rarely better and they lack the charm of those along the path.
Convenient, rare tropical setting, and family option, but noisy. A few bungalows overlook the spacious gardens, but most face each other, and many suffer from the beachside reggae bar. With a curved traditional roof, the bungalows are stylish in design and, although separated, they are clustered tightly together. The décor also borders on the bizarre: pink furnishings, green tiles, orange walls and a red sofa. The bathroom is plainly decorated and sizeable, and sliding doors lead to a raised balcony with plentiful seating; the swinging chairs are particularly inviting. New family bungalows and suites feature an extra bedroom for up to three children and separate lounge area. The generous-sized pool is surrounded by a rare lawn, and the beach is shady and scenic. A slice of sand and water is cordoned off, but guests can’t avoid the ear-splitting roar of nearby boats. The area is often congested with people too, especially day-trippers at lunchtime, but is walkable to downtown and the port.
Luxury and style, with prime downtown and beachside locations. This classy resort shares vast grounds with the inferior sister resort, PP Charlie. Both are squeezed between downtown, with its muddle of cafés and nightclubs, and a stretch of bleached sand at Loh Dalum Bay. The two-level Pool Villas share a private pool with two other villas and lack walls to ensure privacy. Upstairs is an enormous storage area with a desk, and a bedroom with TV; downstairs is a bar alcove, sofa with another TV, and veranda with sliding doors offering direct pool access. Villas are about 50m from the sea, with wonderful views from the second floor, but closer proximity to the beach is thwarted by a garden of unkempt lilies. Behind the villas, Deluxe Rooms overlook shady gardens and are spacious enough for a family of four. The adorable pool has a bar and unusual zig-zag design allowing some lounge chairs to seemingly float in the shallow end, but it lacks shade.
A real find: colonial charm in a pleasant part of downtown. Spread along a hill offering welcome serenity, views and breezes, the overall design is reminiscent of colonial Indian hillside bungalows. The rooms are simple, airy and comfortable with wooden floors, appealing Thai prints on the walls, and plenty of windows. The balcony/veranda is smallish, but good enough to enjoy vistas of the town and mountains; sea views however, are distant and mostly obstructed. Standard rooms only have an overhead fan, but others feature air-conditioning. Rooms are detached or in small blocks along several levels cascading down the slope, so there are plenty of steps to negotiate. Halfway up is a pool with the sort of bougainvillea-smothered setting and captivating views envied by five-star resorts. Located among the quiet, meandering upper backstreets, it seems a world away from the contrasting chaos in downtown, 10 minutes away. It’s also walkable to Ton Sai and Loh Dalum beaches.