Thailand is known for many things – pristine beaches, historic temples, wild nightlife, delicious food. But this beautiful and absorbing country is also home to some of the best hotels in the world. After travelling up and down Thailand, I’ve found five hotels that are head and shoulders above the rest. From modern skyscrapers in Bangkok to tropical island getaways in Phuket, here are five of the best luxury hotels in Thailand.
1. Banyan Tree, Bangkok
Banyan Tree Bangkok is one of the tallest hotels in the city, and as a result it has some of the best views in Bangkok. From the 61st floor you can marvel at a glittering 360° panorama that will truly take your breath away. Aside from views, it has everything you could need: an outdoor swimming pool, a health club with yoga, aerobics, pilates, and an award-winning spa. The views are amazing from every bedroom, and opening your curtains in the morning will give you a thrill, no matter how early it is.
There are seven excellent restaurants here, so there’s something for every taste. The hotel’s signature restaurant is Saffron, which serves contemporary Thai food while providing diners with sensational sky-high views of the city. And then there’s Vertigo Restaurant and Moon Bar, a rooftop bar and restaurant that’s the perfect place to sip unique cocktails under the stars, and dine on delicious dishes while enjoying the warm breeze. For those who want to party, head to Vertigo TOO downstairs where you can let your hair down until the early hours.
2. Sri Panwa, Phuket
Phuket has no shortage of luxury hotels, but there’s one clear standout. Located in the southeast tip of the island, Sri Panwa enjoys the most dramatic setting in the Andaman Sea – it hasn’t been voted the ‘hotel with the best view in the world’ for nothing. Perched precariously above Cape Panwa and surrounded by verdant rainforest, it’s impossible to take a bad photo here. Considered by many to be the most glamorous hotel in Thailand (Rihanna and Snoop Dogg love it here), Sri Panwa has 52 stylish villas and suites that are designed to feel like private luxury homes.
There are several different locations for the hotel restaurants, so you can eat breakfast beside a 25-metre infinity pool and then enjoy a cosy dinner while admiring ocean views. Like any luxury retreat worth its salt, Sri Panwa has its own spa where you can indulge in all manner of pampering, from traditional Thai massages to facials, manicures and body wraps, all administered by expert therapists. With breathtakingly panoramic ocean views, super comfy beds, gourmet mini-bars, private swimming pools and intimate sun decks, it can be a struggle just to leave your accommodation.
3. Avani Riverside, Bangkok
As one of Bangkok’s newest hotels, the AVANI Riverside Bangkok has a modern, contemporary vibe.The enormous windows, high ceilings and light tones ensure the hotel always feels fresh and welcoming, and the bedrooms are spotless, open and minimalistic. But what makes the AVANI truly outstanding is on its rooftop – a stylish 25-metre infinity pool that allows guests to swim against a backdrop of soaring skyscrapers. During the day the rooftop has a chilled vibe, but when night falls and Attitude Rooftop Bar and Restaurant opens, things take a more glamorous turn.
It hasn’t been around long but Attitude Bar has already carved out a reputation for being one of the best places to enjoy cocktails in the city. Guests and non-guests battle it out for tables here each evening, but it isn’t just a place for pre-dinner drinks. The food here is exceptional, and guests can feast on a mouth-watering selection of tapas-style fusion dishes. Sample as much as you can – everything is delicious! – but make sure to leave room for dessert: go for the incredible apple mousse, which is almost too beautiful to eat.
4. Intercontinental Samui, Ko Samui
Sprawled across Taling Ngam Bay on the western coast of Ko Samui is the island’s most luxurious hotel, the InterContinental Samui. Sitting upon sloping cliffs above jungle-cloaked beaches, its position gives guests front view seats to the island’s famous sunsets, and from the moment you arrive it’ll hit you with its unique wow factor. The enormous open air lobby, with its high white ceilings, hanging wire lamps and traditional wood furnishings, is another photogenic place to relax; it’s almost a rite of passage for arriving guests to take selfies in the basket-style chairs facing the ocean.
The most beautiful chillout spot is Air Bar, a terrace deck where you can admire 180-degree views of the coast as you sip cocktails. There are seven pools in the resort, and guests also have access to the private beach, where there’s a water sports center, gym, Muay Thai boxing and yoga space, and free bikes to use. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can take advantage of the private dock and speedboat and explore some nearby attractions, like the islands of Ko Tao and Ko Phangan and Angthong National Marine Park. If you want to relax, the resort spa was voted Best Luxury Beauty Spa in 2016, so checking it out is a must.
5. The Siam, Bangkok
It’s not rated number one on TripAdvisor for nothing. Situated along the banks of the Chao Praya River, a visit to The Siam is like stepping back in time. This is a hotel that was actually built to house an antique collection, and you can spend hours walking slowly along its marble corridors and atriums gazing at the treasures on display. Under its shady glass dome, in amongst exquisite marble rooms bursting with plants and greenery, it’s easy to forget you’re in chaotic Bangkok.
The design inspiration was Paris’ Musée d’Orsay, and The Siam possesses the same museum-like ambiance, where you walk around in awe-inspired silence and talk in hushed tones. However, the hotel is far more relaxed than it first appears. You can spend long afternoons lazing by the pool while staff bring you iced drinks, and if you want to head into the hustle, just hop on the stylish hotel boat and it’ll take you downtown.