As my first hotel on my Escape from Bangkok II – Hua Hin, I picked the Amari Hotel. It got very good reviews, looked good in the photos and was affordable at around $80 including breakfast. After a few nights in economy hotels, I was hoping for a treat – and that’s what I got!
Location: The Amari hotel is located about 5km South of Hua Hin’s town center and along the main beach road. It’s set back about 400m from the beach, a 5 minute walk to the beach club operated by the hotel or a quick, free ride in the hotel buggy. It’s a nice stretch of beach and close enough to town to visit the market, shops, bars and restaurants if you want to. It’s also walking distance to the Cicada Market, a more upscale version than the one in town, but only open on weekends! The songtaew share taxi goes by on the road, so it’s easy to reach by public transportation and it’s about 3 hours by taxi from Bangkok.
Service: I was checked in quickly and the front desk agent brought me to my room, explaining the features, pointing out the amenities of the resort and explaining the breakfast arrangements. I was able to get a small map of town as well as a schedule for the beach buggy and a spa menu! The room was well prepared by house keeping and the staff at breakfast was equally friendly and professional. While you will find service with a smile at most Thai hotels regarding of budget, the Amari staff was well trained and professional, something more common at upscale hotels and reminding me of hotels with a much higher price tag!
Room: The room was an equally pleasant surprise. It’s very modern with light woods and fresh colors, looking more like a Southern California beach hotel than a Thai resort! In fact, it reminded me of the Sheraton Delfina hotel in Santa Monica, a hotel that charges $300 and up in the high season! The room had a comfortable king-size bed, a sofa and table to lounge, a desk to work, a mini bar, coffee/tea facilities and TV. There also was a good size safe, big enough for my laptop. I liked the hardwood floors, very appropriate for a beach resort!
The bathroom was well designed and of generous size. You enter from the bedroom and have a shower on the left, the sink on the right and a separate toilet cubicle at the end. There are windows from the shower and sink to the bedroom, providing light. You can close shutters for privacy, if you’d like! That type of bathroom designs is one of my favorites, because it makes the room brighter and feeling bigger!
The only negative was the unreliable internet. It was the only hotel that I wasn’t able to complete a speedtest on 2 of 5 measurements. While the average speed was good at 3.9Mbps, the on and off nature was rather frustrating and not appropriate for a hotel in this category!
Amenities: The Amari has a very nice pool, with a beach-style gradual entry making it perfect for kids to play. There are lots of loungers around the pool, towels are readily available and staff is more than happy to bring food or drinks from the pool bar! There were umbrellas and cabanas if you had enough sun during your trip!
You can get a decent workout at a medium gym with cardio and weight equipment near the pool. The “Breeze” Spa offers a full range of treatments, at fairly steep prices – you can easily pay more for a massage than the room, which is rather high by local standards. I didn’t try the spa, so I can’t speak about the quality of treatments.
While the Amari is not a beachfront hotel, they operate their own beachclub that hotel guests have access to. Unfortunately, it was closed during my visit for renovations. Judging by the progress the opening date of December sounds very optimistic, so I’d check before booking, if that’s important to you. You could of course still access the public beach in front of the club and stick your toes into the sand!
While I usually don’t consider the lobby an amenity, the Amari has beautiful public areas that I wouldn’t mind hanging out. The lobby area and bar are held in white and blue, providing a very upscale feel and plenty of art work and design furniture to make the hotel feel much more special than I’d expect at this price point.
My rate included breakfast and I tried it the next morning: It’s a very nice, buffet style breakfast with a large choice of pastries, fruit, yoghurt and juices, as well as a broad selection of hot local and international dishes. I liked the make-to-order eggs as well as the selection of meats and waffles – the quality and selection was good, as I’d expect at this category of hotel!
Conclusion: The Amari hotel was a positive surprise and provided great value. The impressive lobby, nice facilities and modern rooms make for a much more upscale stay than I expected at this price point. Add the top-notch service and you are set for a great experience. The only downside, and likely reason for the lower price, is the location off the beach. For me, that’s a compromise I’m happy to make: It’s a short walk or buggy ride to the beach and, once renovated, you can enjoy the beach club, if you prefer that over the regular beach or hotel pool! If you are looking for a luxurious stay and want to save a significant amount of money over comparable Western chain hotels, the Amari Hua Hin is a great choice!