An alternate universe on Samui
Samui’s cramped spaces and aggressive touts are quickly forgotten at Banyan House Bed & Breakfast, located off the beach between Choeng Mon and the north end of Chaweng. It’s a reasonably priced option for travellers who plan to rent a vehicle to explore before returning to a relaxing estate that’s like no other place to stay on the island.
The B&B takes its name from a huge, century-old banyan tree that leans over the property and lends a great deal of ambiance, punctuated by a white spirit house among smaller trees, lounge chairs and benches. The modest and welcoming owner, Tok, told us in excellent English that the tree would swallow up the two-storey house, a la Wat Khai Bang Kung, if they didn’t put in the difficult work of weekly trimmings.
Fronted by broad glass windows that are swung open to keep the air moving through a spacious common room with Thai-style wood furniture, antiques and photos of King Rama V, the house looks like it could be the island retreat of an early 20th century Thai aristocrat. Three guestrooms come with choice of queen bed or two twin beds, while an upstairs apartment accommodates up to six people.
The bright and spotless rooms sport shutters placed over at least three windows, with glass installed at the tops to allow natural light in without giving up the classic look of the louvred wood. Ice-blue walls and white tile floors appeared immaculate, as did the spacious ensuite bathrooms. You also get a desk, shelves and soft lamps in rooms that we found refreshing after checking out the big resorts in Chaweng proper. Rooms in back face a bamboo fence, so go for the front corner room with a view of the banyan if possible.
Rates are quite reasonable, even if breakfast is not automatically included. Those who opt for it have a choice of Thai or Western fare served in a bright coffee shop out front by the road. Tok told us that it’s possible to walk for five minutes to the south and descend the steep hill to access the far northern end of Chaweng Beach via some steps, but we couldn’t find them among the long-term villas that have filled in the the sea-view side of the road.
Banyan House stays quiet and is more than a kilometre removed from Chaweng’s northernmost restaurants -- staying here without a vehicle could be frustrating.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 17th September, 2016.
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