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The 12 best luxury resorts in Thailand

The best hotels in Thailand range from an urban oasis in bustling Bangkok to island escapes off the picturesque coast. Thailand’s hidden gems and gentle giants are tucked away in fantastic locations.

Thailand is a place where culture, tradition and creativity thrive, and where nature abounds. Bangkok caters to every whim, craving and desire. The chaotic city soon gives way to wild plains and verdant jungle, followed by dreamy coastlines and beautiful islands. Here, the hospitality is warm, the resorts spectacular and the ocean views unrivalled.

Wellness reigns supreme here for mind, body and soul. Contemporary spa concepts are delivered through the lens of Thai ritual, a transformative experience that harmonises the relationship between mental and physical states. Food is fresh, nourishing and largely sourced from the sea, and the luxury properties that pepper the region provide personalised service and peaceful surrounds. From the Chao Praya River to Chiang Mai, Phuket, Koh Samui and Koh Yao Yai, Thailand’s most spectacular experiences can be found all over this tropical paradise.

137 Pillars House

Chiang Mai

137 Pillars House is a 30-room hotel on the east bank of the Ping River in Thailand’s northern city of Chiang Mai. This Thailand boutique hotel has a long pool, enveloped by oasis-like grounds with huge Indian rubber trees, palms and poincianas, and backdropped by a staggering three-storey wall of vines. Sitting here, I feel like I’ve slipped onto a movie set. A dapper butler glides up next to me and delivers an ‘Old House’ cocktail – a zingy union of chrysanthemum-infused gin, honey and lime – and a cool, lemongrass-scented towel. Dragonflies flutter over ponds dotted with lipstick-pink water lilies. Gentle sunlight creates dappled shadows through palm fronds.

Days at the Chiang Mai resort

True to its name, the luxury hotel features 137 pillars of teak in its gloriously glam foundations. This glossy tropical hardwood stars throughout interiors and exteriors, accented with elephant-printed cotton cushions and large celadon urns. My room is the East Borneo Suite, replete with rattan chairs and an alfresco shower. At the Nitra Serenity Centre, therapists expertly buff, polish and massage my body until I gleam. And when I’m not being pampered, I’m indulging in Thai delicacies. 137 Pillars House has two dining rooms, a bar and offers cooking classes.  I join executive chef Lakana Suakeaw to discover how to make gaeng keow wan gai (green curry with chicken and eggplant) and som tam, a green papaya salad with the perfect balance of sweet and sour.

Sustainability at 137 Pillars House

137 Pillars House Chiang Mai really stands out in its commitment to making Thailand a more sustainable destination. The boutique hotel supports the local community with cultural tours and visits to galleries – Chiang Mai is known for its creative spirit – or excursions to the city’s Elephant Nature Park, a rescue and rehabilitation sanctuary that the hotel helps fund. There’s no patting, feeding or riding elephants here – the focus is purely on elephant conservation and the habitats they call home.

I checked in to 137 Pillars expecting Thai history – and I was delivered that in spades. What I didn’t expect was to be protecting the country’s future, and ensuring it becomes a better place for generations to come.

Intercontinental Khao Yai Resort

Khao Yai, two hours northeast of Bangkok

InterContinental Khao Yai Resort is designed by award-winning architect Bill Bensley and inspired by Thailand’s rail history. The top-tier villas are set within upcycled heritage rail cars and decorated with the opulence of a bygone era. Veneer panelling, marble surfaces, leather upholstery and brass fixtures reign supreme, while the outdoor lounge, plunge pool and bathtub enjoy views of the Khao Yai mountain range. Guests enjoy the luxury of a pillow menu and Byredo toiletries, plus five dining venues, a spa, wellness centre and access to a curated selection of tours and experiences.

RAKxa Bangkok

RAKxa Integrative Wellness is a serene cocoon of wellbeing that opened in Bangkok in 2020. Here, science meets holistic health. Situated on a bend of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River in a neighbourhood dubbed the city’s ‘green lung’ for its leafy outlook, the tranquillity of RAKxa is in sharp contrast to the skyscrapers and traffic jams of the rest of this metropolis.

The journey to RAKxa Bangkok starts with the hour-long chauffeur transfer from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport in a plush Mercedes Benz S350d. Once the car passes through the RAKxa gates, everything is seamless; within my first few hours here I’m already reaping the rewards of my health transformation. I’m ushered into the large foyer for a welcome ceremony with sound bowls played while I sip jasmine-infused water. I’m introduced to Nok, my medical advisor, who drifts into the room to discuss my personal health goals. From the outset, Nok gently encourages me to slow my pace and ease into this new (and heavenly) environment.

Health centres

RAKxa Bangkok has 50 pool villas nestled amid 30 hectares of tropical gardens. There’s a bike by every front door, encouraging guests to cycle around the village-like complex. On two wheels I discover there are three main health centres. The RAKxa Gaya Medical Gym is where I take my functional fitness assessment and am tested for my overall strength, endurance, flexibility and core stability. Next stop: The VitalLife Scientific Clinic, where I meet certified medical doctors and receive bio-hacking treatments such as oxygen therapy (I find myself in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber for 45 minutes) and a new treatment called NAD+ IV, which improves health and cognitive function, and does wonders for anti-ageing. Finally, the RAKxa JAI Holistic Wellness Centre offers a range of treatments spanning traditional Thai medicine, traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda. I also spend a lot of time in the spa with more than 200 traditional and integrative treatments on the menu. I have a Deep Sleep Radiant Therapy Facial, which stimulates your circulation for luminous skin and a restful night’s sleep and a vitamin C and collagen treatment using an ultrasound machine and radio frequency machine.

Dining

RAKxa’s food approach is guided by an anti-inflammatory philosophy and is based on supporting gut health and restoring any body imbalances. Homemade kombucha is served every night at dinner in a cocktail glass with a garnish, and it’s hard to decline the freshly baked gluten-free bread. Most of the ingredients come from the resort’s own organic garden, which means that everything I eat is fresh, seasonal and surprising. A bit like RAKxa on a plate, really.

The Siam Hotel

Bangkok

There are no two moments the same in Bangkok. And there is no hotel quite like The Siam. This boutique gem is owned and run by Thai rock star Kamala Sukosol and her son, Krissada. Together, they have created a spacious and leafy oasis that nods unabashedly to Thailand’s whimsy and style – with a little help from a duo of other design legends. The boutique property includes mid-century timber buildings constructed by the legendary silk baron Jim Thompson, as well as open and modern structures with a focus on harmony and comfort thanks to American-born, Thai-based architect Bill Bensley.

For the fact that it is located smack bang in one of Asia’s busiest cities, The Siam is all about space. Everything is oversized, from my river-view suite to the enormous stone tub and the wardrobes that could easily stock my Sydney apartment. The service is just as generous: breakfast until 11am, fluffy towels replenished even on check-out day, and marbled vanities large enough to use as a hammam.

The Siam, with every aspect of public spaces mirroring a luxe greenhouse. There’s a Spanish Revival courtyard replete with raised palms and orchids; birds-of-paradise reflect from the indoor pool; elaborate flower blooms perfume the lobby. In between it all are curious objets d’art that nod to the history of this riverside pocket of Bangkok. It’s simply beguiling.

Gastronomy

The Siam’s restaurants are stellar. At Chon Thai, set in storied teak wood houses, waiters deliver aromatic bowls of curry and flavour-packed salads. At the Bensley-designed Story House, there’s fare as forward-thinking as the décor. But I find myself spending the most time at The Pier, making the most of the hotel’s riverside location with a pontoon and open-air bar. And as the glow of lamps blush the evening and I’m delivered a tropical-inspired cocktail, I couldn’t imagine any place more spectacular to spend the night.

Anantara Koh Yao Yai Resort & Villas

Koh Yao Yai, Krabi

On the pristine Thai island of Koh Yao Yai, just a 20-minute boat ride from Krabi, Anantara Koh Yao Yai Resort & Villas has 148 suites, villas and penthouses. Once a coconut palm plantation, the 10-hectare site overlooks a sapphire bay where unspoiled beaches, lush jungle and seaside sunsets abound. A private butler service, personal trainers, in-villa spa and wellness areas feature across the accommodation options, and the Anantara Spa boasts one of the biggest hydro pools and Moroccan hammams in Thailand. With three refined restaurants, private dining arrangements, a kids’ club, a swim-up pool bar, family bar and beach bar, Anantara caters to every preference, from milkshakes and sundaes to sundowners.

Cape Fahn

A private island off Koh Samui

Cape Fahn is one of Thailand’s glitziest resorts. It is a secluded hilltop retreat of just 24 pool villas enveloped by rainforest on a private island just off Koh Samui’s northeast coast. This, I think to myself, is the kind of place movie stars gravitate to. Indeed, it was a strong contender for the upcoming series of HBO drama, White Lotus.

The first thing I realise at Cape Fahn is that seclusion and privacy are a priority. You really don’t have to see anyone unless you want to. There’s no reason for me to leave my pool villa overlooking the ocean at any time, thanks to the fact it comes with an on-call butler and infinity pool overlooking the Gulf of Thailand. Every inch of decor is serenely designed, all glass and stone with natural colours including pearl and pops of indigo. Cape Fahn also owns an ultra-luxe two-bedroom villa for those who want the ultimate in exclusivity, away from the rest of the world.

Michelin dining

Sit down at Michelin-starred chef David Thompson’s Long Dtai restaurant. Thompson has long had a culinary ethos revolving around sustainability and authenticity, which means that much of what I eat is line caught nearby or grown on the island itself. Think coconut and turmeric curry with blue swimmer crab or grilled skate curry with wild mangosteen leaves. There’s also a poolside restaurant for more casual dining moments and the option for a romantic beach set-up for special occasions.

Activities

As difficult as it is to leave, I’m persuaded to explore the incredible Ang Thong National Marine Park. Whisked off in a private speedboat, I’m soon in water the colour of an ice mint, snorkelling through hidden lagoons and caves and discovering a kaleidoscope of coral reefs and marine life. We dock at Mae Koh Island – famed for its emerald green lake surrounded by jungle-clad limestone cliffs – where we swim and eat just-caught fish in a local village – another slice of heaven just beyond an island resort that has elevated the concept of paradise.

Kimpton Kitalay Samui

Koh Samui

Tucked on a quiet cove in northeast Koh Samui is the oceanfront resort Kimpton Kitalay Samui. You could easily while away your day without stepping foot outside this village-inspired property. Built on double-tiered, stilt-suspended platforms, the five-star property conjures up all the romance of a seaside village fusing traditional and contemporary design. Choose from 138 rooms, suites and villas – if you are bringing the kids opt for the two-bedroom villa or, for a romantic getaway, go for a one-bedroom oceanfront pool villa. Each has been carefully designed in calming earthy palettes with repurposed driftwood and artwork by Thai artisans. Plush handwoven robes, in-room beach picnic baskets and the resort’s signature sea salt and patchouli-scented bath amenities by HARNN all await.

Wine and dine

SHADES Ocean Lounge and Pool Bar brings cocktails to you; while Thai lifestyle café BoHo is your go-to for all-day dining. For dinner, choose signature restaurant FishHouse Restaurant & Bar for fresh, local seafood as well as locally inspired lobster with spicy nam jim sauce. LANAI Bar & Lounge has creative cocktails and locally crafted beer or spirits.

Spa life

Head to Pimãanda by HARNN spa to choose from treatments such as signature option, ‘Paradise of Wondrous Sea’. Inspired by the Manora dance of the southern provinces of Thailand, it begins with the Kasi Thara Bath Ritual, before a natural pearl body scrub that readies the skin for the Trio of Bliss, which involves a warm oil massage that combines three massage techniques. For something more active, swim laps in one of the three pools, hit the gym (it’s open 24 hours a day), or take one of the on-site bikes, armed with advice from staff, and discover local, Indigenous and unique experiences around Choeng Mon.

Centara Reserve Samui

Koh Samui

Set on the shore of Chaweng Beach, Centara Reserve Samui is an elegant resort that allows guests to create their own stories, from wellness and weddings to cultural immersion and gastronomic discovery. The property has four restaurants and two bars that serve a variety of local and international fare. My favourite, Salt Society has an ocean view, live music and a smorgasbord of seafood delights. The luxury Thailand resort has three pools, a contemporary fitness centre, a children’s zone and a recreational green. Reserve Spa Cenvaree enlivens the senses through rituals, music and healing, and visitors can expect customised treatments, steam, sauna, and Jacuzzi facilities. All of this is underpinned by Centara Reserve Samui’s signature ‘Reserve Stories’: Reserve Time, Reserve Space, Reserve Culture and Reserve Touch.

Napasai, a Belmond Hotel

Koh Samui

With Thailand’s Koh Samui set to be the next location to feature in the Emmy award-winning series The White Lotus, base yourself at Napasai, A Belmond Hotel, where days can be spent exploring film locations. That’s if you can tear yourself away from the resort. Set between the jungle and ocean, Napasai is framed by cashew and coconut groves with infinity pools, tennis courts, and myriad spa treatments on offer. Don’t miss the chance to savour the flavours of South East Asia at the signature restaurant, Lai Tha, the beachfront dining or poolside casual eatery.

Keep reading:

Suralai

Koh Samui

Traditional Thai architecture meets contemporary luxury at Suralai, a private three-storey, six-bedroom villa in Koh Samui. The garden level has a 25-metre infinity pool and swim-up bar, a gym and multi-purpose sunken sala. The on-site chef curates a daily menu that caters to the desires of each guest, while spa treatments are administered by local professionals within the comfort of the villa. Leave your itinerary in the hands of Suralai’s Elite Concierge Services, who can arrange tours, elephant sanctuary visits, skydiving, snorkelling and boating.

Read: Is this Koh Samui’s most spectacular private villa? 

Amanpuri

Phuket

Relax to the sound of the lulling waves of the Andaman Sea at Amanpuri in Phuket, which has reopened after an extensive refurbishment. Each secluded pavilion has been redesigned to reflect a traditional Thai influence, while new features include a private Spa House, a Holistic Wellness Centre and a Kengo Kuma-designed restaurant. You could spend days at The Spa House which has a Vichy shower room, heavenly hydrotherapy facilities, Banya sauna, infrared sauna, steam room, cold plunge pool and an indoor Jacuzzi. Outside, guests will find a lounging deck, swimming pool, and a beachfront al fresco dining experience with an interactive kitchen and lounge.

The Library, Samui

Koh Samui

Perched upon Koh Samui’s Chaweng Beach, The Library is a unique hotel comprised of just 46 studios, suites and pool villas. The crowning jewel is The Writer, an opulent pool villa spanning 359 square metres. Characterised by an elegant yet restrained interior design language, The Writer is a tranquil oasis with beach access, a private cocktail bar, pool lounge and outdoor cinema. The upper terrace affords guests spectacular ocean vistas, while a personal library facilitates quiet contemplation and time to read. A private gym, courtyard, jacuzzi and barbecue area round out this exceptional offering, which is complemented by on-site dining venues such as The Page, The Library’s signature Thai fusion restaurant.

This article originally appeared in volume 46 of Signature Luxury Travel & Style magazine. Subscribe to the latest issue today.