It’s very rare for me to come across somewhere that I absolutely adore. I’m a bit of a home-bird really and as much as I thrive upon exploring new places and travelling, there’s nothing I enjoy more than being in my own room, in my own bed and surrounded by my own things. There’s something so familiar and so calming about it. Re-creating that ‘home away from home‘ feel, where you feel like you belong, is so very difficult elsewhere.
And yet, there comes a time where you do find those little places around the world that relax and calm you. Perhaps not in the same way, but they are your own little sanctuaries nevertheless. Usually, for me, they involve being by the ocean. Because that in itself, is the thing that makes me feel most at ease.
During our recent trip to Thailand, I came across one of these places – and if I’m totally honest, it was an unexpected one. Nestled high in the hills, overlooking Phuket’s iconic beach, I hadn’t imagined that The Nai Harn Hotel would be quite as incredible as it was. Of course, my regular visits to Trip Advisor and Google Images showed that it was a place Instagram would be proud of, but for once, the place itself surpassed the pristine colourful photographs.
This was the Thailand I’d been waiting for.
Welcome to The Nai Harn.
I suppose what makes this hotel so very special is that every tiny detail has been carefully orchestrated to guarantee each guest a memorable and amazing stay. They offer all your usual amenities and facilities, but they’ve added a Nai Harn twist to each one, ensuring that their unique position is utilised. Little additions which leave you feeling underwhelmed at any place you stay in the future.
For example, most hotels abroad offer a pool area – but their version is arranged to make the very most of the incredible cliff-top views, overlooking the bay and with direct access to the beach. Most hotels offer cocktails before dinner, but they might not have a rooftop bar, with seating booths sub-merged in the shallow pebble pool (don’t worry, you won’t get wet though) and panoramic views of the area. Most hotels offer room service, but perhaps not the private terrace BBQ that you can organise here. Complete with your very own barbecue butler for the evening. I can’t say we tried the latter ourselves, but what an incredible service!
After checking in, we were whisked up to our ocean-view suite on the eighth floor, which admittedly isn’t an option for those who don’t like stairs, because the lift stops at the sixth floor – and then, it’s up to you to climb the further two flights on foot. However, the views when you step inside are most definitely worth it. Because being nestled on the side of a cliff-face certainly has its perks.
The bedrooms themselves are beautifully decorated with neutral shades and light wood detailing. A huge super king bed takes pride of place in the centre of the room, dressed with a silky white duvet* (*note duvet rather than the crispy annoying thin sheets that you usually get on holiday) and plump pillows. Light pours in from the floor to ceiling doors, which lead onto a vast balcony complete with a sofa and an outdoor bed.
And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s even a special button on the bed which you can press for champagne. That’s right, you don’t even have to move from your own private sunbathing spot for a glass of bubbly.
Restaurant wise, the hotel offers two different options – both of which we had the pleasure of sampling during our stay. The first of which is Cosmo, situated inside the hotel next to the pool area, with fuchsia pink and white interior. It makes quite the impact when you first see it, especially with a wraparound balcony offering the most stunning view of the Nai Harn bay and the pearlescent turquoise and silver wallpaper, which catches the sunlight every few minutes and looks as though it’s glittering.
The menu at Cosmo doesn’t disappoint either – mainly a collection of authentic Thai dishes, with some western favourites added into the mix. I’d recommend ordering a few of the appetisers to share, especially the spring rolls and chicken satay – which are pretty incredible, especially when teamed with their Banana Colada and Strawberry Daiquiri cocktails! It’s the perfect way to enjoy a relaxed lunch while soaking in those beautiful views.
And for something to get dressed up for, head down to Rock Salt, the hotel’s beach restaurant – which has the perfect position to watch the sunset. The menu has more of a European influence, with a top UK chef fronting the kitchen and we loved it so much, we went there twice during our two night stay.
The piri piri chicken is possibly the best I’ve ever tasted (even better than the real deal in Portugal) and David spoke very highly of their tandoori chicken naan dish. The only thing to bare in mind is that the fact it’s located on the waters edge makes it a haven for mosquitos, so stock up on insect repellant before you go. If you forget though, it’s not the end of the world, as the waiters very kindly bring out a potent citrus solution which apparently wards them off.
The pool area is absolutely beautiful and if you can tear yourselves away from your private balcony and barbecue butler, then you’ll definitely want to make it your first stop. It’s pristine, very clean and has two separate areas depending on whether you want to take a leisurely swim or float around and be massaged by water jets. Oh the decisions…
You can order cocktails and snacks directly to your sun lounger – and even if you visit during the rainy season (like we did), you can sit out and experience the rain storm without getting wet – as the pool staff will pop up the very large brollies for you. I have a lovely memory of David and I curled up on one sun lounger, with two bottles of Chang beer, listening to the rain pour down in front of us, the air still humid and the sun still blazing through the cloud.
I was lucky enough to be treated to a 60-minute massage during my stay, which I can honestly say was one of the best I’ve ever had. The treatment rooms at the Nai Harn are huge and come complete with your very own locker room and bathroom, so you can get into your dressing gown and fetching disposable underwear at your leisure before laying down on the bed.
You fill out a form before the treatment, outlining any areas you want them to avoid and what pressure you’d prefer, which alleviates any awkwardness when they start launching into a full throttle sports massage and working out all your knots, when really, you wanted a relaxing soft pressure one. Yes, this has happened to me in the past. And yes, I ran out halfway through.
Your massage is finished off with a coconut juice and a cold flannel, which means that you re-enter the world feeling like a new woman.
The staff in general cannot do enough for their guests, as we found out when we spoke to one lovely lady behind reception about the rest of our journey and what we had planned in Thailand. She offered to organise transfers between each island, booking each ferry for us, outlining on a map where the best places to go were, before then putting together a final document with our travel itinerary. This was an absolute lifesaver as we entered the latter stages of our trip, when we realised we’d had money stolen and probably wouldn’t have been able to afford the transfers if they hadn’t have been pre-paid and booked.
Even the chefs at breakfast went out of their way to accommodate us, whipping me up a delicious soy milk and maple syrup porridge bowl for me to eat, after realising that lots of options were crossed out being dairy and egg free. Nothing was too much trouble – and in many instances, we didn’t even have to ask as they remembered my intolerances and altered dishes accordingly.
We left The Nai Harn feeling rejuvenated, relaxed but disappointed that our stay had whizzed by so quickly. As I said, it’s very rare for me to really feel at home somewhere and yet, within such a short space of time, I felt more relaxed than I have done in years. We made a pledge to visit again one day – and waved goodbye as our taxi drove us back down the cliff, past the sandy white beach that resides below and over to the ferry port for our next leg of the trip – Phi Phi island.
Have you ever visited Nai Harn beach? What do you think about the hotel?