Rainforest isles, palm-painted coves, bay after bay of bright white beaches, the Listerine-green Andaman Sea – there’s a reason why Phuket has remained at the top of the Thai tourism game for the last four decades.
From beachside boutiques to ultra-luxurious hideaways, spa and fitness retreats to family hotels, there’s something for everyone.
The choice can be overwhelming, but having lived in Phuket, and stayed in dozens of hotels across the island, I’ve hand-picked the best places to base yourself for a memorable stay.
The best hotels in Phuket are:
- Best for nature: Six Senses Yao Noi, booking.com
- Best for fitness: Thanyapura, booking.com
- Best for fantasy: Keemala, booking.com
- Best for the boho crowd: Trisara, booking.com
- Best for families: The Slate, booking.com
- Best for beach: The Nai Harn, booking.com
- Best for spa: Amanpuri
- Best for sunsets: Sala Phuket Mai Khao Beach Resort, booking.com
- Best to see and be seen: Sri Panwa, booking.com
- Best for design: Como Point Yamu, booking.com
Best for nature: Six Senses Yao Noi
Neighbourhood: Koh Yao Noi
Teetering along a rainforested hillside on the sleepy island of Yao Noi, a 45-minute speedboat ride from Phuket, this island hideaway is the stuff that luxuriant shampoo adverts are made of. Villas have a haute Robinson Crusoe design, with chunky thatched roofs, airy living spaces, muslin-netted beds and split-level decks with trees poking through, all complemented by hornbill-flecked tropical gardens and eye-popping views of toothy limestones sea stacks (best viewed at sunrise in a sea of molten gold).
Price: Doubles from THB 18,995 (£469)
Best for fitness: Thanyapura
This cheerful Olympic-style village in the jungly heart of Phuket is where top athletes, F1 drivers and tennis pros come to train. Stay in one of the sunny modern rooms and you can choose from more than 80 classes a week to participate in – spinning, boot camp, core, martial arts, yoga – as well as building mental strength at meditation and brain training classes. Elsewhere, there are swimming pools, tennis courts, Muay Thai boxing rings, running tracks and a spa.
Price: Doubles from THB 3,250 (£79)
Best for fantasy: Keemala
Fall down the rabbit hole and into this playful, cleverly put-together resort on Phuket’s northwest coast. Villas come in four otherworldly categories; Hobbit-y clay cottages folded into flowery jungle foliage; bird’s nest villas wrapped in tangled metal frames; zippy safari tents; and tree pool houses dangling between coconut trees like giant Christmas baubles. Interiors are glam and grown up – oversized four-poster beds, enormous bathtubs and private pools. And the spa, with its indoor/outdoor treatment rooms and lavish treatments, is a dream.
Price: Doubles from THB 19,000 (£470)
Best for the boho crowd: Trisara
Trisara is one of those hotels spoken about in hushed tones by those in the know, keen to keep this island treasure to themselves. There are hammocks to laze in, yachts to sail in, and a heavenly-scented spa. At Pru, home to Phuket’s only Michelin-starred restaurant, feast on river prawns with XO sauce and wood-fired duck; the laughter-filled Sunday brunch is the best on the island. Then there are the villas: vast, creamy affairs with private pools so generously spaced apart you can happily swim naked.
Price: Doubles from THB 27,000 (£663)
Best for families: The Slate
Neighbourhood: Nai Yang
There’s no need for families to sacrifice style at this Bill Bensley-designed resort on lovely Nai Yang beach. An easy-peasy 15-minute drive from the airport (but without any of the aircraft noise), the resort has three huge pools and is fronted by a 9km sweep of honey sands. Based around Phuket’s tin mining past, the look is whimsical – crystal ball chandeliers, smokey-hued rooms and flashes of blue neon. There’s also an action-packed kid’s club, and a shadowy spa for parents to nip off to.
Price: Doubles from THB 5,500 (£135)
Best for beach: The Nai Harn
The rooms at the Nai Harn are a blast of colour – lime greens rugs, deep purple threads and garlands of pink bougainvillea all pop against a background of blue-green sky and sea – but it’s the comet-like white of Nai Harn beach you’ll most fondly remember. Regularly voted one of the world’s best beaches, Nai Harn is tucked into a deep crescent bay, with swirls of sand gently sloping into bath-warm luminous green waters. Walk around the coast to neighbouring Ao San beach to snorkel amid a kaleidoscope of tropical fish.
Price: Doubles from THB 5,050 (£123)
Best for spa: Amanpuri
Located on a private peninsula on Phuket’s upmarket northwest coast, Amanpuri has long been a top escape for celebrities, CEOs and the super rich, and the newly refashioned spa is sure to make it even more of a draw. Alongside traditional Asian wellness practises (yoga, acupuncture, reflexology, bendy-stretchy massages), and holistic treatments (sacral cranial therapy, mind training, bodywork, chakra cleansing), burnt-out billionaires can now undergo full health work-ups and medical therapies – all from the comfort of their frangipani shrouded private pool villas.
Price: Doubles from THB 28,700 (£698)
Best for sunsets: Sala Phuket Mai Khao Beach Resort
Neighbourhood: Mai Khao
Everything lazy beach lovers dream of, the Sala Phuket Mai Khao Beach Resort is set inside Sirinat National Park and rolls right out onto miles and miles of blissfully untouched cream and honey sands. Spend the morning doing tai chi on the beach as water buffalo plod past; eat lip-smacking spicy noodle lunches with the sand between your toes; flit between the beachside infinity pool and the bath-warm Andaman Sea; and end the day staring at sherbet-y sunsets with a fruity cocktail in hand.
Price: Doubles from THB 5,300 (£132)
Best to see and be seen: Sri Panwa
Neighbourhood: Cape Panwa
It may be celebrating its 10th birthday this year, but Sri Panwa is still one of the hottest addresses in Thailand. It might have something to do with the sensational location, studded around Phuket’s craggy southern coast with eye-popping panoramas of Phang Nga Bay. Or maybe it’s the slick understated design, mixing sharp lines, contemporary Thai art and lush flowery jungle. It could also be the fact that the hotel is home to one of the island’s best rooftop bars, Baba Nest, where the likes of Rihanna and Snoop Dog come to play.
Price: Doubles from THB 12,300 (£305)
Best for design: Como Point Yamu
This is a case of not judging a book by its cover – or a hotel by its exterior. On approach, the Como Point Yamu looks like a brutalist hulk on the hillside, but walk up the stairs and enter a world of sunlight and shadow, with blue skies, green seas and palm trees framed between Buddhist orange pillars. From the lobster creel lampshades in the lobby, to the sun-striped corridors, to the 100-metre long infinity pool, to the elegant white on white rooms – there’s not a bad angle to be found.
Price: Doubles from THB 6,300 (£156)
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies