Karon Princess Hotel, Karon Beach, Phuket $$$$
Concierge.com's insider take:
Patong Beach's popularity is also its bane: Packed with 20 resorts just off the sand, it's a fun place to visit, but not a great place to spend the night. The next beach to the south, Karon, is somewhat quieter but still near the action of Phuket Town, and the Karon Princess, located in the middle of this smaller throng, is an economical and sane choice. Each of its 85 rooms and suites comes with a balcony, most overlooking the Andaman Sea. Also on the plus side: a couple of neatly hidden swimming pools, a decent spa, and an ambitious activities list that includes seaplane excursions to the Phi Phi Islands. The small, boisterous bar in the back is good fun—as long as you ask for a room away from it when checking in. (Similarly, avoid the lobby, a brightly lit, bombastic production that could be described as Art Deco meets early ski lodge.) It adds up to a good place to hang (or recover) during the day, and an even better launching pad for a Patong night.