Phuket, Thailand is famous for its stunning coastline and tranquility, but also its hedonistic party atmosphere. Across the bay from Patong Beach – Phuket’s party mecca – is Thavorn Beach, a hotel with the best of both worlds.
Thavorn Beach Village Resort and Spa is one of those rare places that – although located in the heartland of crazy bass-beating party central – is in fact quiet, relaxing romantic and luxurious.
The weathered charm of this surprisingly large resort and its colonial styling are telltales of the anachronism this hotel has become. Far from dating horribly the way many modern hotels can, the Thavorn has aged rather gracefully.
Everywhere you go within its walls – from the grand lofted ceilings of the lobby and reception to the extensive ornate tropical gardens – you discover a heritage rarely found in resorts of this size or location.
Thavorn Beach Village is a resort so full of surprises that even by our last day here, we were still investigating new elements of this hotel that was founded just after WWII.
There are 3 zones to the rooms: the Beach Zone, the Lagoon Pool Zone and the Hillside Oceanview Zone. Each with its own pros and cons, you can choose your room type based on what you want from the resort.
The Hillside Oceanview Zone has rooms set high above the main resort up in the hills leading to the sea. The views from here over the bay are incredible and the rooms look to be large and private.
To get up and down to your room, you can use the funicular train, which is novel and fun though you are away from the beach.
The Lagoon Pool rooms are right next to the two main pools – one of which is one of the biggest pools in Southeast Asia. Close to the action, your room is also less private, but you get your own access to these magnificent swimming spots.
The Beach rooms are set in a little village style with paths around – all leading to the sea. Some are beachfront, and you can literally see the ocean from your bed.
These chalet style villas also come with little low-walled front gardens, which give you some privacy, but people can still see into your room as they walk by unless you have the heavy drapes drawn.
Our Beach Zone room
With plenty of space and a large, comfy bed, our beachfront villa gave us the perfect way for us to spend the last few days of our Thai trip. There were plenty of different furnished spots in the room and on the veranda to sit and relax, and separate areas for the fridge, minibar, wardrobe and vanity gave the room a homely feel.
The roofed outdoor bathroom had recently been renovated, and the wet room style shower and grand standalone bath were points of luxury we appreciated.
The large picture window into the bathroom confused us a bit until we found the curtains you can hang to give you privacy. The rest of the room, though luxurious, could have done with the same attention the bathroom had received.
Outside our room
We didn’t really know what to make of the different animals we found at the beach just down from our room. There was a pen with two giant tortoises ambling around (they also let them loose every now and then), some adorable baby rabbits, a nanny goat and her kid, and a slightly sombre looking donkey.
The animals all looked in really good condition though, and the attendant was really careful to ensure people didn’t mess with the animals. Why they were there is still a bit of a mystery to us, but we liked the novelty all the same.
Back from the beach are the tropical gardens, which we absolutely loved. Full of tropical plants and flowers, all growing a creeping through the flowerbeds and over old walls and ornate statues.
As you explore the winding paths, you never know what’s round the next corner; a giant fountain of Buddha doing battle with a demon, statues of elephants, dragons and mermaids, crumbling arches covered in vines, little frogs sitting in orchids, beautiful 1000-year-old bonsai trees, and rabbits.
That’s right, rabbits – running in and out of the flowerbeds.
It was another idiosyncrasy of this place that took a while to reveal itself. When the founder of Thavorn – Mr Tilok Thavornwongwongse – started building the resort, he spotted a rabbit. It refused to move during construction and became popular with the owner and builders alike and gained a bit of celebrity.
Since then, Mr Thavornwongwongse took the rabbit as a good-luck charm, which is why there are so many rabbits – both statues and actual – all over the resort. It’s actually really cute.
Where to eat and drink
Further down the beach are the main pools, the bar and the restaurant. Unfortunately the main lagoon pool was being renovated when we were there, but the secondary pool, which backs onto the bar, is still a beautifully designed swimming spot.
Here you can order different snacks, including pizzas whose bases are made in the resort’s bakery. We didn’t eat here, but the food seemed popular. There’s also happy hour from 5-7pm every day, where you can buy 2 drinks for the price of one… though I got the impression my long island iced tea was a little weaker than it should be.
The Thai restaurant here – Old Siam – serves a range of well-made traditional Thai cuisine. They also do what is billed as ‘the most romantic dinner in Phuket’, where you’re served dinner under the stars right on the beach.
This dinner does look amazing – unfortunately on the night we booked they were having some technical problems with the lights, so we dined in a private rotunda in the restaurant.
Breakfast here is served in the restaurant by the main foyer and is very impressive. There’s a wide range of choices – from Thai/ SE Asian to western food in the buffet. They also serve an a la carte breakfast at extra cost.
In this same restaurant, the resort also has different theme nights for dinner. For example, one night there was an all-you-can-eat dim sim dumpling event. All cooked fresh, there was a good range of dumplings to try and we left feeling quite full!
What to do in and around Thavorn Beach Village
You can hire masks and snorkels from the beach hut here quite cheaply, and we highly recommend you do. The range of sea life here is amazing – especially down on the far side of the pier down the beach.
We saw so many different types of fish it was amazing – like swimming in a tropical aquarium.
Nakalay Wellness Spa
The spa at Thavorn is beautiful, nestled in amongst the tropical gardens of the resort’s grounds. We had the couples massage and full body scrub, which was absolutely divine. The two-hour treatment ends with a dip in the private petal-strewn Jacuzzi. We both came away feeling so pampered. This is really something you need to do while you’re here.
If you’re feeling active, the resort also offers Muay Thai kickboxing lessons, there’s a full gym and of course, there’s plenty of walking to do around the grounds and along the beach.
Swimming here is ok but because of the very shallow water and the coral, which you can see at low tide, you have to go a long way out to be able to swim properly. To be honest, the pools are probably better for swimming.
Outside the resort
If you want to explore outside the resort, there is a free shuttle that runs to Patong and back every hour until about 5pm.
We weren’t big fans of Patong, though I think it should be experienced. The beach is full of hassling hawkers, bad tourists and rubbish, the streets are stinking and in poor condition and the bars – even when they’re closed or quiet during the day – have a somewhat nefarious vibe.
I think you have to be in the right state of mind to enjoy Patong Beach, and if you’ve just come from a peaceful, romantic, luxe environment like Thavorn, it can be a bit of a shock. I’m no prude but I didn’t feel like this was the sort of place romance and couples stay very long.
There are shopping opportunities here though, and the party reputation of this part of Phuket is completely founded if you’re looking for a big night out.
The lovely thing with staying at Thavorn Beach is the knowledge that wherever you are in the day, you get to go back to the calm of this beach resort across the bay.
6/2 Moo 6 Kamala,
If you enjoyed this review, here are some other reviews of hotels we’ve been to in Thailand:
And here is a link to our archives for exploring Thailand.
Have you been to Thailand? Where did you stay? What kind of holiday do you go for – party, relaxing or adventure? Tell us in the comments!