The Hedonist: Koh Samui
What to see and where to be seen
Saturday 18 June 2011
I'm in the pool, with what appears to be blood-red water all around me, underneath a bright blue sky. But it's not my blood – nor anyone else's for that matter. Happily, the carmine hue is courtesy of The Library's pool itself, which is lined with scarlet tiles. This boutique beauty (00 66 77 422 7678; thelibrary.co.th) is on the Thai party isle of Koh Samui and its pool has been voted one of the best in the world.
It's not just the pool that draws a seasoned hedonist such as myself. The hotel's aesthetic is a designer's dream, with a concept based on books (the lobby is the "Contents", rooms are "Pages" and the back is the "Index"). I'm staying in "Bookmark" (actually Page 13, but renamed to avoid any bad luck).
Next it's a languid lunch at the beachside Page restaurant where I opt for tuna tartare and roasted tomato with buffalo mozzarella; finishing things off with a trio of lavender crème brûlée, vanilla pod cheesecake and tangy lemon tart. It's a decadent start to Samui, and one I'll probably regret when I climb on to the scales back home. The remainder of the day is spent swigging lychee Caipiroskas in the sleek white Library, stocked with all manner of Taschen-esque tomes.
Pre-dinner drinks are taken at the W Retreat (00 66 77 915 999; starwoodhotels.com), which makes quite the impression, perched on the north shore, descending down towards the beach. I opt for circular seating surrounded by water in the Lounge, and watch – mouth open and cocktail in-hand – as the sun sinks and W transforms into a multi-coloured wonderland of light.
There's no time to linger – next up is Dining on the Rocks (00 66 77 245 678; sixsenses.com) at the plush Six Senses resort – a restaurant that would have even the most dysfunctional couple reconnecting over a sultry sundowner. I settle at my table where the smudged illuminations of a full moon party on neighbouring Koh Phangan can be made out in the distance. But I have more refined intentions, namely the new five-course tasting menu. Highlights include marinated black cod with soy bean paste, maitake mushrooms, sesame puree and ginger foam; tenderloin of Wagyu beef with smoked potato fries and pak choy; and frozen coffee soufflé and green tea shot with jasmine foam.
A car takes me into Chaweng, the island's main town and the best place to drink, dance and indulge. The night is still young and in Samui the party doesn't get started until late. I begin my crawl at Ark Bar (00 66 77 961 333; ark-bar.com), a shabby-chic beach outfit with low tables and even lower seating on the sand. Curled up on a bed and sinking a couple of ice-cold Singha beers, I'm soon joined by a mixed group of gorgeously tanned and toned 20-somethings.
We join forces and head to central Chaweng to cause some chaos. First we drop in to Starz (00 66 84 744 9074; starzsamui.co.th), a camper-than-Christmas cabaret show, to enjoy a game of "guess the guys" (of which there are none) amid a line-up that includes be-wigged and be-jewelled Whitney Houston and Christina Aguilera clones. Afterwards we knock back Sang Som rum and coke at Sweet Soul Café (thegreenmangoclub.com), packed out with shades-on posers; and finally, we cross over to its sister establishment, the Green Mango Club, a multi-room mega-bar that's filled to the wooden rafters with tourists swaying to anything the DJs have to offer. The final track of the night is a remix of a song by Laid Back – I couldn't think of a more appropriate way to describe Samui's particular brand of hedonism.
A Hedonist’s Guide to... (Hg2) is a luxury city guide series for the more decadent traveller. For more information, see hg2.com
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