Unwind at the beachside Hansar Samui

Oozing style and with an understated luxury that seemingly only the Thais can pull off so effortlessly, Hansar Samui in Koh Samui’s charming Bophut village is the perfect chic retreat for trendy couples, says Jonny Payne.

First impressions

Having arrived at Koh Samui's airport – surely one of the cutest airports in the world with its thatched roofs and round huts – I’m dropped off at the Hansar Samui a mere ten minutes later by the hotel’s chatty driver.

Hansar Samui poolLie back, relax and savour the views
Hansar Samui

As I enter the open-sided reception area, I'm draped in a delicate lotus flower necklace and handed a refreshing hand towel. It's then that I catch a glimpse of the pool. Sparkling in the mid-morning sunlight, this shimmering centerpiece is surrounded by bikini–clad hotties and Rayban-wearing hunks who are lazing around on the Balinese-style beds and classy sun loungers.

From here, the view across the infinity pool to the iridescent sea and the verdant shores of neighbouring Koh Phangan is broken only by the tops of parasols, as if small paper versions placed within a 1980s blue lagoon cocktail.

Ideal for…

Stressed city types and trendy young couples seeking relief from Bangkok’s hustle and bustle.

The room

The walk-in shower is a marvel. Taking up a large portion of the room but far from encroaching, the rain shower’s head sprinkles water onto the deep-brown mosaic-tile-encrusted slab below. To the side are toiletries housed in tasteful Hansar-branded containers, while the soft white towels are furled around an elegant wooden ladder.

Hansar Samui sea viewSea View rooms boast walk-in showers and day beds
Hansar Samui

The adjacent toilet is separated by a thin wicker door – a feature that is bearable for partners but less so for friends hoping to save some money by sharing a room.

The walls of the bathroom are adorned with the same deep brown mosaic tiles used for the shower, some of which protude in such a way that you have to fight the urge not to constantly run your hands over the After Eight chocolate-like squares.

The king size bed is super comfy with a perfectly springy mattress and squashy down feather pillows, but the shin-height corners of the frame lead to a couple of four-letter outbursts from time to time.

The room has sweeping sea views that can be best seen from the balcony. With its daybed, rocking chair and candle-lit wall shelves, it’s the perfect place to settle down with a book, particularly during sudden downpours.

Best room?

The most expensive rooms are the Beach Front suites, which while spacious and boasting freestanding bathtubs, are directly next to the promenade and near the hotel bar – not as secluded or tranquil as the other rooms that are set back behind the pool.

Hansar beachfrontSleep in comfort in four-poster beds
Hansar Samui

Although the Sea View rooms will be more than adequate for most couples, the more spacious Sea View XL suites are arguably the best-value option. Equipped with most of the trappings of the Beach Front suites (including four-poster beds), they also have wonderful views of the bay.

Eating and drinking

Breakfast is an invigorating mix of Continental-style croissants, cereals and cold cuts alongside Thai specialities such as pad thai, pad kra prao (stir fried meat with Thai basil) and fresh local fruits – hot orders of eggs, pancakes and waffles are also available. I can’t get enough of the spicy savoury dishes despite going against all Western conventions for the time of day, while rich mini bread and butter puddings are too good to have just the one.

Hansar Samui foodMassaman curry, pineapple ravioli and the beach bar
Hansar Samui and WTG / Jonny Payne

We eat almost daily at the beach bar, which serves a selection of snacks, small plates and more substantial dishes. It’s also the place for a refreshing cocktail, including the tastebud-tingling tom yum martini that's served up by the sincerely smiley staff.

One night, we eschew the many good value eateries along the promenade and head to H Bistro, the hotel’s restaurant. The bistro – which is within the same space used for breakfast – offers a varied menu with both Mediterranean and Thai dishes that feature ingredients such as oysters, Maine lobster and wagyu beef. We opt for Thai dishes, which are of good quality and value – the beef massaman curry in particular is deliciously nutty and velvety, while the pineapple ravioli filled with coconut sherbet has a refreshing zing.

The extras

Hansar Samui spaEnjoy a Thai massage in the bamboo-clad rooms
Hansar Samui

The light and airy on-site spa is decked out in bamboo and teak, and houses Thai massage rooms, manicure and pedicure areas and self-contained treatment rooms with showers and freestanding baths. It’s a serene space that’s spread over a number of floors. Alternatively, have a Thai massage outside near the beach while admiring the view.

Room for improvement

The hotel ticks all the boxes of a stylish retreat: infinity pool? Check. Stunning sea view? Check. Luxury spa? Check. Impeccable service? Check. The only slight letdown lies with the food.

While the quality and presentation is generally very good (and at times excellent), the Mediterranean options are around three times the price of the Thai specialties – and substantially more than restaurants in Fisherman’s Village. While higher prices are to be expected in such resorts, it leaves you feeling a little hard done by, particularly when the cheapest bottle of wine is a wallet-emptying ฿1,500 (£34).

Also, certain dishes seem a little too fussy. My partner’s mozzarella salad at the beach bar, for example, was comprised of plenty of salad leaves, but was rather light on the mozzarella and had a pile of rather uninspiring olive oil powder on the side – slightly disappointing for ฿490 (£11).

Out and about

Hansar Samui FishermansExplore the nearby Fisherman's Village
Hansar Samui

Hansar Samui is the nearest of a line of luxury beachside options to Fisherman’s Village. Old shacks in this part of town have been transformed into beach restaurants and bars to suit all tastes and budgets, from the laid-back beach areas with beanbags to barbecue eateries serving the catch of the day. Every Friday also sees a street market with food stalls and live music where locals and visitors alike venture out.

A number of operators in Bophut offer boat trips around the island and further afield to Koh Phangan, Koh Tao and the beautiful Ang Thong Marine National Park, where you can snorkel, dive or simply sit back and enjoy the striking views.

However, the beauty of Koh Samui itself should not be missed. We rent a car from the hotel and set out to explore the island. Its largest attraction is the gleaming Big Buddha, which is a few minutes by road from the hotel; while there are many hidden coves, waterfalls and temples to uncover on this diverse and easygoing paradise isle.

Hansar Samui AngthongCruise to the spectacular Ang Thong National Marine Park
iStockphoto / Thinkstock


Hansar Samui
Address: 101/28 Moo1, Bophut, Koh Samui, Suratthani, Thailand.
Telephone: +66 77 245 511.
Website: www.hansarsamui.com
Room prices from ฿5,600 (£128) per night.

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