Whether you’re planning the trip of your lifetime or mapping out your travel bucket list, you need to look at Thailand’s top luxury hotels — exquisite properties that emphasize the country’s natural beauty and colorful culture.
The 123-room Dhara Dhevi is Chiang Mai's top luxury property, and is much more than just a resort. It was built to resemble an ancient Lanna kingdom or Burmese temple complex, and with horse and carriage transport at the gate, a huge swimming pool sitting under towering castle-like surroundings, and impressive faux temple ruins, it delivers plenty of wow factor. Villas with private plunge pools are made from reconstructed rice barns and overlook working rice paddies, while the Colonial Wing has elegant colonial-style rooms. The features here are spectacular: One of Thailand's best spas is housed in what looks like a giant temple, and gourmet dining options range from haute French cuisine to royal Thai fare. Guests also get access to a library of over 5,000 books and DVDs. This is truly one of Thailand's most romantic and luxurious stays, but also one its most expensive.
The Santiburi Golf, Resort & Spa, with its 45 acres of palm gardens, is one of the poshest, most pampering resorts on the island of Samui, and possibly in all of Thailand. This five-pearl property, with its pristine and lovely beachfront, is located on Mae Nam Beach in the northern part of the island. The villas and one- and two-bedroom duplexes are Thai-inspired and contemporary, and come packed with amenities. There's a huge swimming pool, a kids' pool, a sports complex with a tennis court, Thai boxing, billiards, mountain bikes, and yoga, plus three fancy restaurants and several bars. The resort also owns the nearby championship 18-hole Santiburi Country Club Golf Course, where resort guests get tee-time priority.
The 88-villa Banyan Tree Samui is an intimate, ultra-luxury property that draws those seeking an exclusive taste of the high life. Each room is a gorgeous stand-alone villa featuring a private pool, separate living area, and a beautiful bathroom with a rainfall shower and separate soaking tub. With four restaurants, a gym and yoga studio, a renowned spa, an infinity pool, and free water sports on the private beach, guests don't need to ever leave. However, those wishing to explore the island can request free shuttle service to nearby towns.
The tropical grounds and friendly service at JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa are almost impeccable. There are three upscale swimming pools, a luxe spa, and 12 distinct restaurants and bars. Contemporary rooms include balconies and mini-fridges, while the Villa has a private pool. Downsides are that the beach isn't suitable for swimming and past guests have reported that kids have a run of the place.
One of Bangkok's most opulent hotels, the 300-room Siam Kempinski is located in the city center, behind the Siam Paragon luxury mall. Elegant rooms -- set around a garden oasis with saltwater swimming pools flowing through it -- are decked out in contemporary Thai decor and feature silk curtains and paintings as well as amenities such as daily stocked minibars and big flat-screen TVs. Some rooms give direct access into the large meandering pool that is the centerpiece of the property. There is a bright, well-equipped fitness center with shiny wood floors. Siam Kempinski is also the home of the acclaimed Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin, with a Michelin-rated chef. With its gardens, pool, and private feel, this is more like an island resort than a city hotel. Wi-Fi is free throughout.
Hidden in the jungle in the famed Golden Triangle, this Four Seasons sits right on the border of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar, and is only accessible by private boat. The 15 luxury tents all include huge antique-style bathtubs, outdoor rainfall showers, unlimited minibars, free bottles of Champagne, and enormous balconies that overlook the Ruak River and the jungle. There's a small swimming pool in the forest as well as a hot tub, but the real treat at this all-inclusive property are activities like elephant rides and educational experiences. A minimum two-night stay is required, though it would be pointless to come to such a magical place for just an evening.
It's pretty difficult to beat the wow factor found at The Naka Island, A Luxury Collection Resort & Spa Phuket. Guests arrive at the small, tropical island via a five-minute speedboat ride from Phuket. The five-pearl property consists of 67 private villas with private courtyards that boast plunge pools and giant outdoor soaking tubs. Naka Spa is one of the best in Thailand; it includes an ice room and warm Watsu pool. A private sand beach, a gorgeous two-tiered swimming pool, and three on-site restaurants are convenient and necessary features, as there isn't much else on the island besides natural jungles and a small Muslim fishing village. One oddity is that the grounds aren't very well maintained and look patchy in many areas.
The St. Regis Bangkok is an impressive five-pearl luxury hotel next to the Ratchadamri BTS Skytrain station, a short walk from high-end shopping and dining. The hotel features a huge outdoor pool, a full-service spa with hot tubs and steam rooms, a top-notch fitness center, Italian and New York-style eateries, a drawing room with afternoon tea, and a clubby St. Regis bar with its own signature Thai-style Bloody Mary. The 228 spacious rooms are decked out in sexy, but sober, contemporary tones and have marble bathrooms with separate showers and tubs. Every room has butler service as well.
The Siam is in a league of its own when it comes to exclusivity and elegance. Just 39 plush, spacious rooms occupy this vast property, which is scattered with pieces from the owners' art collection and has everything from an infinity pool to multiple dining venues to a library, cinema, gym, and spa -- while maintaining an intimate vibe. Secluded Villas offer private pools, hot tubs, and rooftop terraces. All rooms include breakfast, butler service, and free longtail boat service along the river, though reaching city center attractions can be difficult, as can finding the hotel by taxi. Some rooms have unattractive views and/or lack windows.
Andara Resort and Villas is one of the most expensive hotels in Phuket, but with the high price tag comes over-the-top extras like private chefs and access to a customized yacht. Well-heeled guests choose from luxury villas or suites; most of them have gorgeous private pools and sweeping views of the Andaman Sea. It would be easy to spend an entire vacation holed up in the villas, which get stocked with guests' favorite foods, and a private chef comes to prepare customized meals. Other great features are the relaxing spa, infinity-edge swimming pool, and Silk restaurant. One caveat: the beach is about a 10-minute walk (or quick buggy ride) from the hotel.
The InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort is a 79-room Koh Samui hotel with beautiful ocean views. This ultra-posh, luxury resort is certainly one of the most gorgeous in Thailand. The Villas, Suites, and Ocean View rooms all come with wonderful terraces, large bathtubs, and plenty of elegant touches. There are also seven swimming pools, a large beach area, Water Sports Centre, and several restaurants and bars. It's almost a world unto itself, drawing everyone from families to honeymooners. The only drawbacks of the resort are its distance from the main centers of Chaweng and Lamai, and the price tag. But for guests who can afford to splurge, it's a superb choice.
Considered the Grande Dame of Bangkok hotels, this 393-room luxury property sits along the banks of the Chao Phraya River, with knockout views from rooms as well as the hotel's elegant bars and restaurants. The rooms here are fit for royalty, with even the standard Superior rooms decked out in dark teak decor and elegant bathrooms. The hotel has one of Thailand's best spas, a world-class fitness center and tennis court, and several large swimming pools. The restaurant options here also rank as some of the best in town.
The Pimalai Resort and Spa is the grandest luxury property on Koh Lanta. It's hidden away near the southern end of the island, along beautiful Kantiang Beach and Bay. Sprawling across a hillside and onto the beach, the resort has two sides -- a hill estate and a beachfront. Most of the rooms are clustered on the beach side, although there are luxury pool villas up on the hill. All rooms are large and include teak floors, rattan curtains, daybeds, furnished patios and balconies, and plenty of privacy. The resort offers two swimming pools, one an infinity-edge pool overlooking the entire bay, plus a fitness center, spa, and tennis court. There are four restaurants and cafes, several bars, and secluded, lush grounds. The whole resort exudes exclusivity and romance.
Paresa means "heaven" in Thai, and with a staff that refers to themselves as angels, panoramic views of the Andaman Sea over Millionaire's Mile, and private luxury villas -- to some guests, Paresa is truly a five-pearl piece of (expensive) heaven on earth. At night, the infinity-edge pool is lit up with hundreds of twinkling LED lights. Two on-site restaurants and a cooking school offer gourmet fare. The location on a cliff means privacy (and those uninterrupted views), but the tradeoff is a remote neighborhood and no direct beach access; the resort works around that problem with a free hourly shuttle to town and Kamala Beach.
Trisara Phuket guests are met at the airport by an SUV and shuttled to the stylish resort, complete with a private sandy beach, infinity-edge swimming pool, three restaurants, and gorgeous accommodations with private pools and views of the Andaman Sea. There's a private boathouse and a popular Jazz Brunch on Sundays. Prices are high, but freebies include airport transportation, a breakfast buffet, chocolates, and Wi-Fi. For honeymooners and families who can afford it, Trisara is hard to beat.
Amatara is a five-pearl property overlooking the Panwa Cape on Phuket's quiet southern end. With a breathtaking infinity-edge pool overlooking the Andaman Sea, a private sandy beach, and tricked-out villas and rooms, the Amatara Resort is an ideal spot for couples and families seeking a luxurious tropical vacation with all the trimmings. Fun extras include iPad tablets in the rooms, a full spa and salon, and a free breakfast buffet. Those who would prefer to explore Thailand may not appreciate the semi-isolated location; expect a 20-minute drive to Phuket Town and 45 minutes to the airport.