We stumbled upon Varinda by accident on our last day in Samui while looking for a viewpoint. We saw the brightly coloured signs, kept following them out of curiosity and then, luckily, found it – and we just loved this place.
More than 30 years old, family-run Varinda Resort sits atop the hill at the southern end of Lamai Beach, offering impressive views across the entirety of Lamai and out to sea. We say views as there are many vantage points within the magical gardens of this rambling property, be it from one of the swimming pool decks, a thoughtfully placed terrace hammock or a veranda table setting.
We spent a good 30 minutes wandering around – "feel free to explore" the lovely receptionist said with a wave of her hand -- and we feel like we found but a fraction of the appeal of this place. Garden paths run off to the left and right, signposts tempting in all directions, beach here, viewpoint there, intermingled by other thoughts and missives; think - idea - try - do - do again - and again - keep doing – success! Everything is bright and colourful and there's no shortage of material to bring a smile to your face as you wander about.
Rooms themselves are quite the banquet. Rather than demolish and rebuild, Varinda has restored, redecorated, and most certainly repainted to create what is easily some of the most unique and appealing rooms on Ko Samui. They're not flash by any means, but they're spacious, comfortable and obviously built and crafted with love. There are the occasional throws to modernity like a minibar or free WiFi, but we just loved the back to basics appeal of the rooms: original art hangs off the walls, polished wooden floors lie underfoot and exteriors are all brightly painted and decorated.
The freeform pool is split into two levels with a small slide in between and beyond that lies a chill out area with well slung hammocks and table settings randomly arranged about the place. There is "stuff" everywhere – a basinet with dolls here, a ceiling hung with about 100 red wooden spoons there – so the whole place feels half guesthouse, half art installation. There is also a restaurant and spa on site.
The beach is a solid 10 to 15-minute downhill walk away, which makes the swimming pool a welcome addition as you'll probably work up a sweat getting back here. Despite the views that give it a feeling of proximity, Lamai proper is a bit of a trek away and you'll be very appreciative of having your own transport here.
Varinda is going to appeal to those looking for something a bit different. If you're in the market for horizon pools, chilled air-con and minimalist architecture, this most definitely is not the place for you, but if you're after a unique property with an artistic tilt that has a surprise quite literally around just about every corner, and you're willing to pay a bit of a premium for it, then this could be what the doctor ordered.
Young children in particular will appreciate the swimming pool with slide and the magical garden appearance of the whole place – terrific for hide and seek. The bigger rooms have oodles of room for an extra bed. Highly recommended.
Address: 82/3 Lamai Beach
T: (077) 424 484; F: (077) 232 296
Coordinates (for GPS): 100º2'25.77" E, 9º27'32.66" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Room rates: 1,500B to 4,000B
What we were quoted as a walk-in.
|Superior double room||2,400 baht||3,000 baht|
|Deluxe double room||2,700 baht||3,400 baht|
|Deluxe Suite||3,000 baht||3,800 baht|
|Family room||3,300 baht||4,200 baht|
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
Our top 10 places to stay in and around Ko Samui