“The best of the beach lodges on the remote island of Koh Tao: 46 beautifully simple thatched houses dotted about peaceful landscaped gardens”
The 48 houses are cleverly spread out along the beach, among the huge boulders and up the palm-covered hillsides, so it feels much smaller and more private. The houses vary from simple houses to beautiful beachfront villas, with various other options in between. Throughout, the emphasis is on stylish simplicity: thatch panelling and roof, smooth hardwood floors and furniture, stilted balconies, and open-air shower rooms incorporating boulders and branches. Aesthetes might scoff at the over-shiny varnish or the unfaced brickwork of the bathroom walls, but it's a good effort given the remoteness.
Pride of place goes to the Royal Villa, which fronts a small sandy cove surrounded by granite outcrops. Failing these, there are assorted Family Houses set back from the sea, some overlook the beach, other the pool and some the gardens.
The best options for couples are the Romantic Sea View Houses and Sea View Suites, at the far end of this cove, also with direct access from bedroom to balcony to sea (a gratifying early morning progression!).
The Superior and Deluxe Houses are basically single-space huts on stilts, with a simple shower room out the back and a shaded porch out the front. We’d still be happy in these as they offer a little more privacy.
It's amazing how hungry you can feel after a gruelling day of sunbathing and swimming! Happily, Sensi's beachside restaurant fills the spot with an incredibly extensive menu of Thai and international dishes and drinks, served on a wooden platform looking out over Mae Haad's sandy beach and its busy boat piers.
Breakfast (included) is equally wide-ranging. Choose American-style (including eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes), Continental (fruit salad, breads, pastries) or Asian (rice soup with chicken or prawns, fruit salad). Or you can order individual dishes - muesli with fruit salad and yoghurt for the healthy, porridge for the patriotic, and pancakes for the kids.
The a la carte lunch and dinner menu offers a good range of curries, including a delicious red-curried roast duck with coconut cream and a lamb shank in Penang curry. We ordered a 'mild' tom yum goong soup with prawns, it was rather like a seafood broth - lovely and fresh. Some evenings, a seafood BBQ is laid on.
If you (or your children) prefer to play safe, there's a choice of western dishes (lamb chops, DIY pizzas, classic pastas and even fish 'n' chips!), plus some unexpected salads (Caesar, Greek…).
Drinks include a dangerously addictive banana-mango-strawberry smoothie, a vanilla shake and an iced mocha, as well as wines, champagnes and beers … not bad for a remote island.
This is a great place for children of all ages. The food is kid-friendly and the sandy beach (with boats, snorkels, kayaks etc) is a godsend. The only drawbacks are: few twin-bedded rooms (most have doubles); and a few dangerous raised balconies for tiny toddlers (check when enquiring).
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
The Family Houses and Royal Villa are the best options as they can sleep from 3 to 6 in 2-3 bedrooms and fit an additional bed or baby cot.
Baby cots are available on request
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking