Do you love to stay in quirky places, and can’t get enough character? From one-star to five-star, teak villas to jungle huts, tents to shipping containers, you’ll find an incredible range of options for unusual places to stay on Koh Samui. Here are my favourite thirteen:
Some links below contain affiliates. Top photo: New Star Beach Resort (Photo credit: Booking.com)
Where: Beachfront in Bangpo
Where’s the quirkiness? Top to bottom. Driving past, The Mud appears to be one of the most unusual places to stay on Koh Samui. The Mud’s aesthetic is ‘The Flintstones’ beach bungalow’ – with extra doses of bamboo. Comfort items include your own porch-front hammock and in-room back-scratchers. On the beach expect, well, mud rather than white sand. Instead, dip into the small resort pool. Daily batik painting is offered for kids and families. Coming soon: A new, completely circular bamboo house with sunset views.
What to pack: mosquito repellent and lots of booksSee More Photos
2. New Hut Bungalows
Where: Beachfront in Lamai
Where’s the quirkiness: Seriously? New Hut offers actual beach huts – like actual huts on stilts – painted in Crayola’s brightest colours. If you’ve ever wanted to try ‘tiny house living’ (for less than US$10 per night), New Hut Bungalows are both cheap and cheerful.
What to pack: Sunscreen, swimsuit and little else.See More Photos
3. Varinda Garden Resort ()
Where: Hillside in Lamai
Where’s the quirkiness? If a pack of hippie children, hyped up on kombucha, were given paintbrushes and told to run riot with their favourite inspirational quotes – they’d find their work already done at Varinda. Flower Children, Earth Mothers, dog lovers, step right up: you’re going to find like-minded friends at Varinda Garden Resort. Does the owners’ invitation to “get back to nature” sound charming and characterful? If so, you’ll love your stay. If you can’t abide elderly plumbing and electrics, maybe not. Indeed, Varinda best suits ‘mai pen rai’ (‘nevermind’/no worries) travellers who expect nothing to work and are delighted when it does. (Note: WiFi is free in the reception and restaurant only – in-room WiFi is charged hourly).
What to pack: Books, mosquito repellent, a flashlight
Where: Beachfront in Chaweng
What’s unusual? Its blood-red pool is just the start. As a self-described ‘Unique Conceptual Resort’, you’ll find surprise features throughout The Library. The resort’s public bathrooms, for instance, have stall doors that are mirrored on the outside but are windows within. (So think twice about the poses you strike when you think you’re alone in the sink area). Way more romantic is The Library’s ‘Breakfast Culture’: inviting you to breakfast in bed, on the beach. Love your privacy? Look to ‘Secret Chapters private (saltwater) pool villas.
What to pack: Statement sunglasses for poolside reading (The Library’s library has 1400 books available)
Where: Beachfront in Chaweng
What’s unusual? Given its central Chaweng location, Buri Rasa offers time-travel to an older Thailand. Rooms and suites are housed in teak buildings built in traditional southern Thai style. Set amongst mature trees, the result is the perfect balance to the modern frenzy of Chaweng. If you want sun and shade, beachfront and a forest-feeling, to me, Buri Rasa Village is a one-off.
Where: In the hills overlooking Chaweng
What’s unusual? Jungle living, for “not jungle people”. If, notionally, you love the idea of nature but would never, ever camp: The Jungle Club might be your answer. Newly built and newly renovated options include jungle bungalows, jungle huts, jungle lodges, a jungle house and jungle villa. Choose a Jungle Lodge for the best views and most privacy and the Jungle House to avoid bugs (its construction is fully enclosed). Note: If you’re interested in bird-watching, I’ve seen some incredible birds at The Jungle Club – truly the pursuits of taking it easy.
What to pack: Mosquito nets are provided but bring plenty of insect repellent as well. A guitar would suit your surroundings very well.
Where: Two minutes’ walk to Maenam beach
What’s unusual? Your only chance for glamping on Koh Samui. Promising “art and heart”, Khwan Beach Resort is adults-only and has both pool villas and glamping tents. Tents have air-conditioning, WiFi, smart TVs with a totally private garden area (and totally open-to-the-skies bathrooms). Tents range in size from 55sqm (~600sqft) for one bedroom to 110sqm (~1200sqft) for two bedrooms.
What to pack: Mosquito repellent and a jaunty Panama hat
Where: Beachfront in Chaweng Noi
Where’s the quirkiness? On arrival, when you find a lobby stocked with hundreds of rubber ducks. On the beach, where you’ll find giant rubber ducks. In your room, where you’ll meet – wait for it – yet more rubber ducks. New Star is a wonderful four-star beach resort, suited to couples and families alike, with a double dose of ‘sanuk’ (Thai for anything fun, funny, cheeky or amusing). What’s with the ducks? An attempt to break the world record for the largest collection. If you prefer salty to sweet, book for the New Year’s Eve pirate party. Great food!
What to pack: Best chance for an upgrade? Bring more rubber ducks. (Not kidding).
Where: Bophut Beach
Where’s the quirkiness? While finding these rates (typically US$15-30/night) on Bophut Beach is highly unusual, Cactus Bungalow comes through on the quirkiness, too. Bar stools? No. How about barbershop chairs. White walls? No. Tiger murals. Dragon murals. Square rooms and flat floors? No. Curvy better. As with The Mud (see above), Cactus Bungalows evokes a very Flintstones feeling. Yabba-dabba-do for as little as US$15/night. You get no frills (look elsewhere for in-room fridges, hairdryers, etc) but you do get tiger murals and a beach.
What to pack: All your own toiletries (and mosquito repellent)
Where: Beachfront in Chaweng
What’s unusual? Want style, love minimalism and have always thought your balcony should be an actual infinity pool? SALA Chaweng Beach Resort is a palace of white – with in-room infinity pools that defy my understanding of gravity. The resort just opened this year (with the second phase of development underway). It’s a total renovation of a pre-existing property and the result is bright white everything; a vibe somewhere between Miami and Mykonos – with a tiny dash of ‘spaceship’ on the side. Note: for extra privacy, book a balcony pool suite on the second or third floor.
What to pack: A (white) swimsuit per day
Where: Ten-minute walk to Fisherman’s Village
Where’s the quirkiness? Ever wonder where the cool kids hang out? If you’re backpacking or just want to meet some travel buddies – Samui Us Hostel takes the converted-shipping-crate trend and runs with it. Hang out poolside on bean bags or in the open-air bar/coffee shop space – in the company of ten cats. Games Nights precede the shuttle bus to parties and nightlife in Chaweng. (As for ‘pool rules?’ Smoke or drink in the pool and you have to buy the water to refill it).
What to pack: Your charades A-Game
Where: Fairly removed from the real world near Bang Po
What’s unusual? You know those ‘struggle is real’ days when you can’t get out of bed? Book Deluxe Pool Access at Mai Samui Resort and, with next to no effort, roll out of bed and straight into the pool (your balcony steps lead directly into the water). The ideal Koh Samui resort for water babies, swimmers, paddlers, guppies and water aerobics enthusiasts who only have eyes for the pool (the beach is rocky at low tide and not swimmable at high tide).
What to pack: Waterproof sunscreen
13. Imperial Boat House (see update below)
*2020 update: Melia Koh Samui is now open
Where: Beachfront in Choeng Mon
What’s unusual? This is an honourable mention as The Imperial Boat House has closed for major renovations after twenty-seven years. It will re-open in May 2019 “sometime in 2020”, rebranded as part of Melia Hotels International. While the rooms and facilities were due for a refresh (imagine the bathroom of your dreams in 1991 … yikes), fans of the Boat House need not worry: the boats themselves will remain as star pieces of this much-loved property.
What to pack: Hold your horses for now, and see what else suits on Choeng Mon Beach