Planning a tropical getaway? Consider one of our pick of the most luxurious hotels and villas on Koh Samui

Planning a tropical getaway? Consider one of our pick of the most luxurious hotels and villas on Koh Samui

When you think of Thailand, what springs to mind? If it’s palm fronds, sugar-fine sand and sunrise yoga overlooking the ocean, you’re picturing Koh Samui.

The most postcard-perfect Thai island, Samui is for many the gateway to a life-long obsession with the Gulf of Siam: the first destination in what will become a never-ending list of trips. Whether it’s the forthcoming third season of The White Lotus (currently being filmed on the island), or a simple Google search of gorgeous Thai beaches that has inspired you, you’re about to plan a trip we’re certain won’t disappoint.

Development on Samui ramped up in the early Nineties, and it’s now considered one of the ‘big three’ Thai islands, twinned by Koh Tao (the diving hotspot) and Koh Pha-ngan (party central). Of course, one of the main driving factors in Samui’s rise to tourism fame is the ease of travel: while many of the less-developed islands involve a full day of speedboat-hopping and squinting at bus timetables, Samui is served by its own tiny airport. (And what an airport it is: frequently hailed as the most beautiful touchdown in the world, your time in paradise really begins at the baggage carousel here.)

Samui might not be the smallest of Thai islands (places such as Koh Lipe can be traversed on foot within an hour), but it’s certainly a petite paradise, meaning you can easily see all the sights and explore every beach during a week’s stay. The circumference can be driven in 90 minutes, there are only two main (well-paved) roads, and both car rentals and taxis are readily available.

boats at the beauty beach with limestone cliff and crystal clear water in thailand
saiko3p - Getty Images

While development has certainly been rampant on Samui in recent years – and of course, that forthcoming small-screen blockbuster is sure to amp up the booking buzz – it’s still a far cry from those hard-partying hotspots on the mainland. Consider it a good middle ground in terms of the tourism scale: it’s significantly more built-up than backpacker hotspots Lipe and Lanta, yet more chilled and child-friendly than Pha-ngan and Phuket. The abundance of five-star resorts and upscale restaurants may have diluted the cultural richness to an extent, but those looking to ease into the Thai experience are in the right place.

As for that notorious Southern Thai nightlife: I’ve travelled to Samui with tiny companions on multiple occasions, and have found it family-friendly every time, with no need to feel confined to our resort. Fisherman’s Village, the island’s main hospitality strip, does seem to spawn a new Prosecco bar or late-night licence with every visit, but the vibe on the whole is cool and casual, with most venues winding down by 11pm.

Do consider that Thailand has recently legalised the consumption of cannabis country-wide, but bars and restaurants control smoking in their premises, especially when children are around.

aerial view of tropical beach at sunset, ko samui, surat thani province, thailand
Matteo Colombo - Getty Images

Koh Samui: What to do

Samui is an island loved for so many reasons: you’ll spot as many starry-eyed honeymooners as you will gap-year gangs and young families on these shores. As such, there’s a lengthy list of things to do, should you ever tire of soaking up the sun on the world-class beaches.

All the Thailand classics are on the menu here, from cooking lessons at sustainable family-run farm Island Organics to a dip in the rustic thermal pools at Tamarind Springs. (Or for those who prefer their massages sans rainforest critters, plump for Sala Spa on bustling Chaweng beach.) Ang Thong Marine Park is a must-see, accessible either via a scheduled group trip or private charter. An archipelago of 42 tiny islands, it makes for a spectacularly scenic sail, with a stop off to climb the stairs leading to the dramatic azure Emerald Lake.

So, where to stay? Here, see the Bazaar verdict on the most luxurious hotels on Koh Samui.

The best hotels on Koh Samui

The Four Seasons

BOOK NOW

four seasons koh samui hotel
Courtesy Four Seasons

Once the third season of The White Lotus hits our screens this summer, this one will need little introduction. Set to do for Samui what previous seasons did for Maui and Sicily (that is, send bookings through the roof), we imagine the show’s third season will catapult the Four Seasons Samui straight to the top of many bucket lists. Indeed, it’s a worthy winner, situated on a practically private beach and boasting a selection of pool villas and larger private residences.

Naturally, the spa here is a highlight: in fact, there are two. Book into the main resort hideaway for innovative treatments incorporating island-grown coconut and jasmine rice powder, or discover the secret beach spa for a lava-shell massage soundtracked by the rolling waves.

For something more active, take a Muay Thai class from a professional boxer, play tennis or practice yoga, and charter the resort’s slick speedboat (complete with chef, no less) to see Ang Thong in serious style.

The resort is situated in the north of the island, which means you won’t be packed like sardines on the pristine white sand, but to explore the more vibrant parts of Samui you will need a taxi. But with a view as breathtaking as this one, we can’t imagine you’ll feel frequently compelled to leave.

Anantara

BOOK AT BOPHUT

BOOK AT LAWANA

a deck with a pool and a house by the water
Courtesy Anantara

There are two Anantara resorts on Samui, and the best one for you will really depend on how often you intend to leave your sun lounger. While the Bophut outpost is beachfront and walking distance to the bars and restaurants of Fisherman’s Village, the Lawana hotel is more secluded and serene. Whichever you choose, you’re in for a treat: both offer pool-access, beachfront and private-pool suites (all in traditional Thai style) and boast restaurants worth making a reservation for immediately, with Lawana’s Tree Tops in particular proving no stranger to the odd romantic proposal.

Samujana

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best hotels koh samui
Courtesy Samujana

Whether it’s a holiday with the whole family or a very special occasion, Samujana villas are likely the perfect setting. These exclusive private residences are frequently booked for big birthdays and weddings, but also make the perfect location for simply spending time with your loved ones. The 23 villas are set high into the hill, so while you can’t flop from bed to beach, you can enjoy the most spectacular views over the Gulf (come sunset, you’ll be truly smug).

Each villa boasts its own infinity pool (although they do vary in degrees of drama) and the clean, minimal properties are flanked by plenty of patio space, meaning long, lingering dinners outside are on the cards every night. Speaking of dinner, that’s all delivered to-order straight to your door, with private chefs available to curate a menu for those extra-special nights.

Six Senses Samui

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six senses koh samui hotel
Courtesy Six Senses

Occupying a North-Easterly peak of Samui is the sublime Six Senses, which boasts some of the best dining outlets on the island (Dining On The Rocks is the one for that major dinner) and two-tier treehouse-style villas you’ll struggle to step outside of.

The location is remote (well, remote for Samui), meaning you’re more or less restricted to the resort without hailing a Tuktuk. But that surely won’t be a problem – in fact, choosing between your infinity pool and the private beach is enough to induce decision fatigue alone. And for the oenophiles, know that Drinks On The Hill is one of few places you can get stuck into a proper wine list on the island. Just be sure to arrange a buggy to take you safely back down the hill.

The Library

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koh samui best hotels
Courtesy The Library

It’s the striking red-tile pool that sets The Library apart in the line of beachfront hotels that trim Chaweng beach, Samui’s most developed strip of sand – but this long-standing island favourite is loved for more than its unique design details. A stark contrast to the traditional Thai aesthetic, rooms here are slick, minimalist and white-walled, with options ranging from modest studios to sprawling apartments complete with private pools. For an extra-special stay, book The Writer apartment, which opens onto its own stretch of pristine beach.

After a little stimulation? Head to the actual library, where you can delve into over 1000 books – surely enough to keep you occupied.

Peace Resort

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peace resort koh samui hotel
Peace Resort Koh Samui

The long-standing Samui favourite Peace Resort is situated on Bophut beach, which is quieter than neighbouring Chaweng yet within walking distance of Fisherman’s Village. The open-air entrance leads onto the sprawling beachside swimming pool, while rooms are a mix of traditional wooden salas and more modern beachfront villages, complete with private pools.

While this one doesn’t quite compete with the the global names in the luxury stakes, it’s the perfect middle ground for those who want a serene stay without leaving children restless: the menu offers a practical balance of Thai classics and familiar favourites, while the children’s playground and pool are sure to prove a popular spot.

However that’s not to say you can’t spoil yourself rotten while smaller family members are wearing themselves out poolside: book a private chef to host a BBQ in your villa garden, take up a private Thai boxing class, or enrol in a PADI diving course to explore the coral reefs.

When you think of Thailand, what springs to mind? If it’s palm fronds, sugar-fine sand and sunrise yoga overlooking the crystalline ocean, you’re picturing Koh Samui.

The most postcard-perfect Thai island, Samui is for many the gateway to a life-long obsession with the Gulf of Siam: the first destination in what will become a never-ending list of trips. Whether it’s the forthcoming season of The White Lotus (currently being filmed on the island), or a simple Google search of gorgeous Thai beaches that has inspired you, you’re about to plan a trip I’m certain won’t disappoint.

Development on Samui ramped up in the early Nineties, and it’s now considered one of the ‘big three’ Thai islands, twinned by Koh Tao (the diving hotspot) and Koh Pha-ngan (party central). Of course, one of the main driving factors in Samui’s rise to tourism fame is the ease of travel: while many of the less-developed islands involve a full day of speedboat-hopping and squinting at bus timetables, Samui is served by its own tiny airport. (And what an airport it is: frequently hailed as the most beautiful touchdown in the world, your time in paradise really begins at the baggage carousel here.)

Samui might not be the smallest of Thai islands (places such as Koh Lipe can be traversed on foot within an hour), but it’s certainly a petite paradise, meaning you can easily see all the sights and explore every beach during a week’s stay. The circumference can be driven in 90 minutes, there are only two main (well-paved) roads, and both car rentals and taxis are readily available.

While development has certainly been rampant on Samui in recent years – and of course, that forthcoming small-screen blockbuster is sure to amp up the booking buzz – it’s still a far cry from those hard-partying hotspots on the mainland.

Consider Samui a good middle ground in terms of the tourism scale: it’s significantly more built-up than backpacker hotspots Lipe and Lanta, yet more chilled and child-friendly than Pha Ngan and Phuket. The abundance of five-star resorts and upscale restaurants may have marred the authenticity, but those looking to ease into the Thai experience are in the right place.

As for that notorious Southern-Thai nightlife: I’ve travelled to Samui with tiny companions on multiple occasions, and have found it family-friendly every time, with no need to feel confined to our resort. Fisherman’s Village – the island’s main hospitality strip – does seem to spawn a new Prosecco bar or late-night licence with every visit, but the vibe on the whole is cool and casual, with most venues winding down by 11pm.

Do consider that Thailand has recently legalised the consumption of cannabis country-wide, but bars and restaurants control smoking in their premises, especially when children are around.

Koh Samui: What to do

Samui is an island loved for so many reasons: you’ll spot as many glossy-eyed honeymooners as you will gap-year gangs and young families on these shores. As such, there’s an lengthy list of things to do, should you ever tire of soaking up the sun on the world-class beaches.

All the Thailand classics are on the menu here, from cooking lessons at sustainable family-run farm Island Organics to a dip in the rustic thermal pools at Tamarind Springs. (Or for those who prefer their massages sans rainforest critters, plump for Sala Spa on bustling Chaweng beach.) Ang Thong Marine Park is a must-see, accessible either via a scheduled group trip or private charter. An archipelago of 42 tiny islands, it makes for a spectacularly scenic sail, with a stop off to climb the stairs leading to the dramatic azure Emerald Lake.

So, where to stay? Here, see the Bazaar verdict on the most luxurious stays on Koh Samui.

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