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Koh Samui Hotels

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Banyan Tree Samui
99/9 Moo 4
Maret , Koh Samui
Thailand 84310
Tel: 66 77 915 333
reservations-samui@banyantree.com
www.banyantree.com/en/samui/overview

The party-happy sands of Chaweng are just over the ridgeline to the north of Banyan Tree's private, palm-lined bay, part of a hidden valley on the eastern shore of Koh Samui. In a feat of engineering and architecture, the villas dramatically ascend the hillsides on stilts, clinging to the slopes. The golf cart–driving chauffeurs mean it when they tell you to hold on. Each of the 78 villas has a sizable swimming pool outside and earth tones inside. No razzle-dazzle here. The real magic is in thoughtful details—a built-in head cushion in the bathtub, perfectly focused reading lights, and not one but four rain-style showerheads. Best of all, the resort delivers a real sense of place, particularly in the restaurants' authentic Thai dishes, the confident masseurs in the spa, and, of course, this being Thailand, a genuinely hospitable staff.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Cactus Bungalow
175/7 Moo 1
Bophut Beach
Bophut , Koh Samui
Thailand 84320
Tel: 66 77 245 565
cactusbung@hotmail.com
www.sawadee.com/hotel/samui/cactus

The reception desk is on the beach—just past the pool table—at Cactus Bungalow, an easygoing and easy-on-the-wallet property along Bophut Beach on Koh Samui's north shore. All 14 bungalows are simple but spotless, with comfortable platform beds made up with cheerful local textiles, enough closet space to unpack for quite a while, and cable television. Cobalt-tiled bathrooms are spick-and-span, with an open shower and a generous countertop. Rooms with powerful air conditioning are closer to the sea, but the swankiest pad sits on the sand, facing the water: It's well worth the slight premium (about $40) to wake up to the sound of the rolling waves. What sets this waterfront inn apart from its many nondescript neighbors is the excellent food, including Koh Samui's best pizza, fired up in the wood-burning oven by Guillaume, a perennially tan Frenchman who emerges from the surf to perform his mealtime duties.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui
219 Moo 5
Ang Thong , Koh Samui
Thailand
Tel: 66 77 243 000
fourseasons.com/kohsamui

On the secluded northwestern tip of the rapidly developing island’s glassy Laem Yai Bay, Bill Bensley, architect of the Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle in Chiang Rai (“Hot List," May 2006), has scattered 60 gorgeous hillside villas among the coconut trees, all with expansive Gulf of Thailand views (including from the tub), as well as decks with big plunge pools, shaded daybeds, and a stocked wine fridge. The resort has a small, effectively private strip of white sand beach by the main infinity pool, as well as sea-facing daybeds at the laid-back beach bar, where the attentive staff whip up an array of cocktails. The adjacent dining pavilion Pla Pla (meaning "many fish" and named for its fresh catch menu) is a romantic dinner spot, and the hilltop restaurant Lan Tania highlights indigenous dishes like coconut beef curry and steamed fish with lemongrass. Massages inside one of the spa's tree house–inspired treatment rooms knead away any last trace of real-world stress.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Kamalaya
102/9 Moo 3
Laem Set Road
Laem Set , Koh Samui
Thailand
Tel: 66 77 429 800
info@kamalaya.com
kamalaya.com

A group of American hippies turned real estate entrepreneurs have opened Kamalaya, a 60-room resort on the coconut palm–covered slopes of southern Koh Samui. With architectural references to Nepalese pagodas, its teak-clad buildings and bungalows have white interiors with cool touches such as shag blankets, and layouts that maximize sea views. No stress is the emphasis here: The resort has flexible check-in and -out times, and guests with a week to spare should sample the menu of medicinal options at the Wellness Sanctuary. The healthy meals are served in bountiful portions, but in the spirit of community, room service is discouraged and available only with a day's notice.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Karma Samui
80/32 Moo 5
Bo Phut , Koh Samui
Thailand
Tel: 66 77 234 500
karmasamui.com

The spectacular views make a lasting impression at this 36-villa property situated atop craggy headlands and both convenient to and removed from Koh Samui's nightlife. Golf carts buzz about, giving the whitewashed compound a seaside community vibe. The smallest villas have three bedrooms, with polished dark wood floors, warm Thai textiles, a shaded outdoor daybed, and a private infinity pool (visible from golf cart paths, alas) as well as a kitchen and laundry room. The dramatic tented restaurant, Padma, offers fun cocktails like cucumber martinis, in addition to an extensive East-West menu. Below the restaurant, two levels of pools are typically bypassed for safe ocean swims between rock outcrops and walks along an enclosed stretch of golden sand. Treatments at the small but charming spa incorporate the healing powers of precious metals.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Langham Place Samui at Lamai Beach
146/24 Moo 4
Lamai Beach , Koh Samui
Thailand 84310
Tel: 66 77 960 888
Fax: 66 77 962 539
kohsamui.langhamplacehotels.com/en/home/hoteloverview.htm

Koh Samui now has a hotel scene to match its increasingly stylish visitors. Built on a slender plot on the northern end of Lamai Beach, Langham Place is a cleverly conceived maze of 77 suites and villas around three communal pools, with dense vegetation and gigantic boulders that offer a sense of private space. Interiors are elegant and contemporary, with Balinese wood furnishings, soft lantern lighting, and gorgeous gilded wallpaper that echoes traditional Chinese watercolors. The pool scene feels more South Beach than Samui: A DJ plays lounge music at the bar, and cult flicks play on a poolside screen. The beach all but disappears at high tide—the star attraction here is the hotel's pontoon pier, which spears 600 feet out to sea, with a seawater area at its far end. The sweet staff hand out ice water while offering to clean your sunglasses. The nighttime scene is surprisingly quiet, but this is an ideal destination for grown-up flashpackers seeking a buzz without the hangover.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Library
14/1 Moo 2
Bo Phut , Koh Samui
Thailand
Tel: 66 77 422 767 8
thelibrary.name

In crowded Chaweng Beach, this 26-room hotel's high style attracts a stream of beachcombers (prepare to show your key to the hotel gatekeeper). The bloodred-tiled pool is the dramatic centerpiece, with huge pillows and daybeds beside it. High white walls and black-lacquer floors provide museumlike backdrops for Thai antiques. Clever touches—in-room iMacs; a choice of colors from the bedside light; two DO NOT DISTURB signs, one of a person sleeping, the other clearly suggesting that the couple inside are not—make your stay memorable, as do they eager-to-please staff. The Thai fare at The Page is best enjoyed outdoors, with panoramic beach views. Despite the prevalent literary theme, the hotel keeps more glossy coffee table books than beach reads.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Sila Evason Hideaway
Laem Samrong , Koh Samui
Thailand
Tel: 66 77 245 678
www.sixsenses.com

Each of the resort's 66 villas, which cling to a palm-studded headland above the sea, is a pleasure dome of rustic luxury in polished hardwoods, bamboo, and creamy muslin, all under a soaring thatched roof. Floor-to-ceiling windows frame the ever-changing seascape, and bathrooms are decadently kitted out with sunken tubs large enough for four and walls that retract to welcome ocean breezes. All but 15 of the villas have their own small pool, and each has a deck as well as a separate shaded lanai with a giant daybed overlooking the sea. A spa and a slate-lined pool with Gulf of Thailand views round out the list of diversions.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Villas on Koh Samui
Koh Samui
Thailand
www.samuivillasandhomes.com

Outgrown the plunge pools at those five-star resorts, or want more space than even the presidential suite provides? Swanky, well-stocked villas are popping up all around Koh Samui, offering the undivided attention of well-trained staff plus authentic Thai and gourmet Western cuisine for seriously impressive prices. Rates at the most posh residences can start at $1,400 a night, but when that is spread between the 12 people that it sleeps, you'll find it to be quite the bargain.

One of the island's most indulgent playpens is Suralai, which means "residence of the angels." The name is spot-on for this six-bedroom hilltop spread with jaw-dropping views over coconut treetops to the sea and Koh Phangan. The knowledgeable villa manager speaks fluent English; daily maid service keeps the minimalist pad spotless; and the chef's grilled lobster with Thai spices is one of the best meals on the island. Nearby, the four-bedroom Baan Ling Noi, or "Little Monkey House," offers similar views at a lower rate (between $400 and $850), along with a 50-foot infinity pool and open-air patio that extends into the palm forest. Couples seeking something more intimate can canoodle by the sapphire blue–bottomed pool at the Emerald Residences on otherwise-deserted Laem Noi Beach, along the island's northern coast. These three neighboring two-bedroom houses—which you can rent separately or together-—offer a modern, glass-clad alternative to Thai-style living pavilions. Additional advantages are instant beach access and daily maid service, plus breakfast served in the sea-facing dining room. If none of these villas are available or if you have alternative requirements, check out the offerings on Samui Villas and Homes.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
W Retreat Koh Samui
4/1 Moo 1
Maenam , Koh Samui
Thailand 84330
Tel: 66 77 915999
reservations.wkohsamui@whotels.com
www.starwoodhotels.com/whotels/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=3058

Though W hotels typically wow with nifty design details, here the most eye-catching element is simply the view from the hilltop lobby, where the sea appears to merge seamlessly with the infinity pool. The sense of floating evaporates only when you peer down to the beach villas and back up at the rooms stepped into an adjacent hill. At night, the W's party vibe takes over—pan-Asian scenesters already have this 75-villa resort on their radar. If you don't feel like socializing, pop in the mix CD provided in your minibar, and you'll soon be at ease in your bachelor pad of a villa, with its red-and-black color scheme, sliding wall panels, beanbag chairs, and private pool. At the beach, which curves around a headland, villas have either a sunset or sunrise view, but a public access road means the area isn't completely private. Drink service that's limited to the bar area (and is not available in the beach loungers) is also a drawback, but the cocktails still come with fine sea views, as do the tables at the Japanese-inspired restaurant, Namu, where chefs work in an open kitchen.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.