The 15 Best Hotels in Koh Lanta
Set lovingly among a forest, this resort offers wooden bungalows (called ‘suites’) up a hill, so access often involves numerous steps and steep paths. Most bungalows are on four levels, with an entrance; bathroom, with a toilet and shower only separated by curtains; bedroom, which would get hot during the day; and room-sized balcony with hammock. All suites feature numerous windows, but not all have the dramatic views promised; those higher up offer the finest vistas, but are not for the unfit. Some are in a less appealing row but at ground level, avoiding hilly climbs. A few are alongside the pool, and several others contain two bedrooms. The pool is long, narrow and high up, with stupendous views across the bay, while the lobby is along the main road in the lively village of Kantiang, with some shops and eateries. Another 200m further along, Kantiang Bay is sandy, scenic and pleasingly undeveloped.
Probably the island’s most exceptional beach setting, therefore remote. One of Koh Lanta’s most southerly resorts fronts a flawless private cove of snow-white sand, calm turquoise water, and angled palms. Most of the modern-style villas are separated and scattered along the garden path, while those higher up the hill offer more seclusion and serenity, and possibly better views, but are in small blocks. Some villas are almost on top of the sand, barely 20m from the sea, and others face the lush gardens. All are elegant, spacious and breezy, with a gorgeous contemporary Thai décor, soothing tiles and old-fashioned sofa. Those with two bedrooms are popular with families, who also relish the sparkling-blue, shady pool facing the beach. It is isolated however, with no shops or cafés within walking distance, but none of the guests seem to mind.
Elegance without extravagance, secluded, and a little isolated. Dominating the northwestern tip, the Crown Lanta is set among vast undulating gardens of ponds, creeks, cliffs and lawns, but has no real beach frontage. A sliver of Crusoe-esque sand is however accessible by steps from one of the pools, while Klong Dao with its beachside cafés is a short stroll away. Many of the rooms and villas are similar, with only the location and views different. Some on the ground level have direct pool access, while others boast impeccable sea views. All accommodation is compact, without being spacious, with elegant furniture, a modern décor with incongruous artwork, and massive balcony. Most luxurious are the villas with a separate living area, direct sea views and private pool with edges that seem to merge into the horizon. The hotel offers free use of kayaks, bicycles and snorkelling gear, but facilities for families are modest. And it feels isolated, although only 20 minutes’ walk to Saladan, home to the port and seafood restaurants.
4. The Houben
Chic and cliff-top, close to the beach and village. Boasting a magnificent position overlooking an inaccessible rocky cove, most rooms are in two grey but elegant blocks. All rooms are stylish, spacious and airy, dotted with Thai and Indonesian art, and contain a daybed and spa with garden views, but they lack color among the tiles, glass and metal furniture. The floor-to-ceiling window leads to a verandah/balcony of lounge chairs and beanbags facing the pool, while those on the upper floors enjoy lovely sea views. The self-described ‘signature pool’ is oddly uninviting, with red tiles and grey edges, and nothing blueish. Although located in the far south, the location is terrific: only 200m from the vibrant village of Kantiang, with a dozen shops and eateries, and another 200m to a pleasingly undeveloped sandy bay.
Affable, affordable, charming and tranquil, but no pool. At the southern end of the popular Long Beach, the grounds stretch from the lobby, about 50m from the road, to the beach, which is rocky in parts and virtually private. Bungalows are detached or semi-detached and dotted along a garden path, while two offering direct sea views have a corner sofa. All are lovingly decorated with traditional Thai arts and crafts and feature a balcony surrounded by plants, allowing some privacy. All are spacious enough for an extra single bed or sofa that converts into one, while some bungalows have two bedrooms and/or connecting doors. Therefore, it’s popular with groups and budget-conscious families. A little remote, with few facilities along the main road, perhaps surprisingly there is no pool, but the beach is lovely and the open-air café-cum-lobby is delightful.
Quiet, convenient and family-friendly, but no pool (yet). This unassuming family-run resort is about 150m from the main road (buffering traffic noise but near cafés and shops) and even closer to a pleasant stretch of Long Beach. Dotted around the gardens and trees, the bungalows are identically colored, with a wooden balcony of appealing benches and an inviting hammock. All are spacious and bright, although the bathroom is a little dark. A few older, more basic, and cramped bungalows are scattered among a quiet, shady area, but still comfortable. All bungalows are separated, but sometimes clustered a little too close together, yet remarkably noise-proof inside. Many have an extra single bed and a second child can be accommodated without fuss.
Sea views, serenity, and extremely convenient. As the only resort in Saladan (home to the port and a line of seafood restaurants), it faces a breezy beach which is virtually private. With lawns extending to the sand and only a few palm trees, uninterrupted sea views are guaranteed from most rooms, as well as from the pool and gardens. The layout is similar to a motel, with rooms in three-level blocks overlooking the pools. Most on the ground level have direct access to the pool, while a few do face gardens and an empty lot. Rooms are compact, functional and unfussy, with attractive wooden furniture and a sizeable balcony maximising the views. On the corner of the blocks, the massive Deluxe Rooms feature a separate living area and extensive panoramas from a lengthy L-shaped balcony. With an empty beach and proximity to Saladan, as well as connecting rooms, a kids’ pool and tiny playground, it caters reasonably well for families.
Magnificent design, wonderful location, but not for families. With substantial landscaped gardens, the Layana is not overbuilt, allowing plenty of space, privacy and seclusion. The overall design is thoughtful, contemporary and unpretentious, and the setting perfect: fronting immaculately-raked sand halfway down Long Beach, with numerous cafés along the road and beach. Villas (called ‘pavilions’) are large enough for two double beds, and feature a huge closet, marble-style desk, balcony with a second sofa overlooking pools or gardens, and substantial bathroom with garden views. The Beach Suite offers decent sea views, with a separate living area and trendy outdoor shower. The deluxe version is spread over two levels, while the pool villas are surrounded by very lofty walls, providing total seclusion. Other facilities include two saltwater pools, a library, dive centre and adorable beachside bar with wooden decking. But note: apparently, children are not welcome.
Superb location, distinctive design, personality plus. One of the most unique resorts in southern Thailand faces a gorgeous cove at Kantiang shared with only one other resort. It’s a short stroll to a lively village with a dozen eateries, but along a quiet side-street, distant from the main road. There are only 15 rooms, each individually named, decorated and designed in a very colourful stone-age sort of way – somehow, imagine the Flintstones on a Mexican beach. Rooms are bursting with energy and colour, and also feature a nautical theme. So much is made of stone – the walls, floor, desk, bathroom and tub – while the balcony is larger than most other hotel rooms. What’s more, the beach is faultless, most rooms are only metres from the sand, and all boast direct sea views. The pool is tiny but adequate, and the rooftop spa probably offers the finest views in southern Lanta.
Space and self-catering rather than views and beach setting. Across the main road from the coast, and about 700m from Klong Khong village and beach, the Phutara caters for those who want to spread out, self-cater and/or park a vehicle. More like a motel than a resort, it offers a limited number of bright and airy rooms in stylish two-level blocks facing the pool, and a few separate and larger villas overlooking the gardens. With one or two bedrooms (often so big they seem sparsely furnished), the rooms and villas also feature a separate lounge area with kitchen facilities and a sofa that converts to an extra single bed. The pool is decent, with a Jacuzzi and swim-up bar attached. This part of Lanta is quiet, with minimal traffic along the main road, but there are few shops and cafés immediately nearby.
Refined, serene and stunning Thai décor, but isolated. Straddling both sides of the main road, the Pimalai offers villas in stylish two-level blocks among lawns fronting the beach and pool villas spread up a hill. (Buggies are provided.) The Infinity pool, with spouts and whirlpools, is raised for prime views and somehow seems to blend into the sea only meters away. Steps from the pool lead to a glorious and virtually private beach, where a water-sports center offers numerous free activities. Villas feature an intensely vibrant Thai décor, with teak furnishings, carved mirror frames and bamboo curtains, as well as plentiful storage, a sofa (that converts to a single bed) and large balcony. Barely 10m from the beach, the elegant Pavilion Suites (with one or two bedrooms) contain an inviting lounge area, indoor garden and breezy L-shaped balcony. However, the resort is down south at Kantiang, and with no facilities nearby, it is remote.
Glorious beach, attractive layout, rare Thai-ness. One of very few on Lanta with a thorough Thai design, this resort is immensely appealing with curved ornamental roofs and a tropical ambience of waterfalls, ponds and palms. Villas are accessible along a raised boardwalk but are clustered tightly, so the balcony and windows are only a few metres from another villa, probably affecting privacy and peace. But inside they are delightful: bright and roomy, with plentiful luggage space and charming old-fashioned wooden furniture and floors, though with an undersized balcony. The Family Villas are particularly impressive, with space for three children without feeling cramped. The newer rooms in modern blocks facing a pool still feature a Thai design, and are also spacious and comfortable. While lacking the charm of the villas, these rooms are quieter, especially those separated by stairs. The resort faces Khlong Dao, an attractive beach lined with laidback cafés, and is walkable to the main road with numerous tourist facilities.
Budget-priced, family-run, delightfully ‘unresorty’. Descriptions used by the owners such as ‘villas’ and ‘luxury’ are stretching the truth, but the bungalows are cosy, quaint and affordable. Most are separated by 5-10m, providing some privacy, and face a garden that, admittedly, needs some attention. The resort faces a serene and almost private stretch of northern Long Beach, with an eclectic array of cafés/bars on the sand, but not so many along the main road, a three-minute stroll away. The bright and spacious bungalows feature a sizeable balcony, while the newer ones at the back are more modern, e.g. with a lovely tiled floor and colourful bathroom, but are so big they appear sparsely furnished. Many are angled towards the ocean for partial sea glimpses, but only two offer genuine beach frontage, with virtual private access to the sea. The beach lacks shade but is otherwise ideal, easily compensating for the lack of pool.
14. Soontreeya Lanta
Charming, cosy, understated and close to the beach and village. With only 20 rooms, the service is personable and space is plentiful. Facing extensive bright-green lawns with swaying coconut palms, both types of accommodations are spacious and lovingly decorated. The adorable wooden bungalows feature a sort of nautical theme with hues of purple and blue (that don’t always match), as well as teak floors, an airy bathroom, raised balcony, and unusual mosquito-proof door. Across the lawn, the more modern and semi-detached brick bungalows lack the same charm, similar to those found all over Lanta. The Soontreeya is only 100m from Long Beach, which is scruffy at that point, although a perfect stretch of sand is close by. The main road is 300m away along a rocky path from Phrae Ae village, lined with cafés and shops, with more along the path and beach. And the lovely tiled pool is a welcome surprise in this price range.
15. Twin Bay Resort
Unique beach setting, family-friendly and oh-so convenient. In a tranquil area removed from traffic and crowds and perfect for strolling, this aptly-named resort is located on an isthmus, facing a scenic cove within Khlong Doa beach and another bay without sand. Spread out among the shady lawns are several types of bungalows, all with, unusually, a fridge and large enough for an extra single bed. These range from Standard – cosy and simple in detached or semi-detached safari-style huts facing the gardens – to Deluxe, with perfect beach frontage and a balcony almost on the sand. Family Bungalows are also spacious, easily accommodating three children, but don’t have sea views. Attached to the beachside pool is a Jacuzzi, swim-up bar and children’s splash area. And it’s only a 15-minute amble to Saladan, with the port and numerous shops and seafood restaurants.