Perched on Sairee's northern headland, just before Aminjirah and Thipwimarn, Koh Tao Hillside Resort offers more midrange priced rooms tumbling down the hillside to the water's edge and a slither of beach.
We're not exaggerating when we say the rooms here tumble down the headland, this is a very steep property (keep your eyes open and you'll see the rails of an inclinator that must have been in use at one stage) and we were thrilled to be offered a ride back up to the top in a staff buggy saving us the long sweaty walk back up.
Rooms are all freestanding bungalows, the vast majority of which have spectacular views out and over the ocean. They're colour-coded for ease of navigation, with the standards, not all of which have great views being blue and the deluxe rooms, which all do have views, being white. The latter run up behind the pool, while the blue are spread out just to the south.
All have good sized decks and sliding glass doors – bear in mind that those with the best views also catch the full brunt of the afternoon sun – yes, you'll be needing that air-con. Other facilities, hot water showers, WiFi and stocked minibar are standard but the interiors are, just ok and while we think the white rooms are worth the extra money, this is on account of the better views rather than anything else.
There is a large well positioned restaurant down by the water's edge and a free form swimming pool with plenty of lounging space. Just to the north of the pool is a slither of sandy beach which provides easy access to the water, but there is also a long pier on the other side of the pool, which looked to be great for jumping off to us. The water was crystal around here with plenty of fish.
One thing to watch out for is that many of the wooden walkways, and especially the wooden steps, are in poor condition and should really be replaced. Always wear footwear and watch out for exposed nails and unstable boards – we almost took a couple of tumbles here – children in particular should take care.
A quick word about the staff here, they're excellent – extremely friendly, helpful and welcoming – and one of the reasons why we listed here and not one of the neighbouring properties. Koh Tao Hillside Resort is owned by the same company as Nang Yuan Island Resort (and Lomprayah) which made the staff here all the more of a surprising find as they're both terribly run!
If you have more money to spend, Aminjirah gets good reports, though we were unable to see it, and a little further up, the very long-running Thipwimarn continues to deliver, despite being quite long in the tooth. Their suite rooms are particularly good value, if you're looking for some affordable lux.
Address: Sairee headland, Ko Tao
T: (077) 601 822; (084) 422 3745;
Coordinates (for GPS): 99º49'23.06" E, 10º6'29.87" 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.
|Standard double room||2,000 baht||2,400 baht|
|Superior double room||2,400 baht||2,800 baht|
|Deluxe double room||3,000 baht||3,400 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.
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