Occasionally in our travels we discover a hotel that is exactly what we are looking for at a particular moment in time. In this instance, we were looking for a low key, clean, quiet, comfortable, reasonably priced beachfront property to pause for a week or two during an extended trip through South East Asia.
Such a hotel is the Baan Bophut located in the quieter east end of the delightful Bophut Fisherman’s Village on Ko Samui.
Fisherman’s Village features dozens of shops, boutiques, restaurants and good natured drinking establishments along its two main streets, one paralleling the beach, the other perpendicular to the beach.
Those travelers visiting Ko Samui in search of the party scene or anything remotely sleazy will be disappointed and likely relocate themselves to the Chaweng Beach area, located about 15 minutes away by taxi.
Baan Bophut is a small hotel with eleven rooms, all ocean front. We discovered the property as we walked along the beach from a property located a few doors further east that did not fit our requirements. Don’t be fooled by Baan Bophut’s very modest exterior from the roadside, or be hesitant to book the property because it is so close to what appears to be a busy roadway.
Although vehicles are permitted on the Fisherman’s Village main street, for all intents and purposes, it is a pedestrian street open to all, but in practice, limited to scooters and service vehicles. There simply isn’t any traffic to get excited about especially near the hotel, with none whatsoever every Friday evening when it becomes a fairly lively pedestrian mall with local vendors selling everything from exotic cooked bugs to curiously inexpensive name brand products.
There are four basic rooms on each of the first two floors of the walkup property. There are, we were told, a couple of loft type rooms on the third level and a suite on the second level that had both beach and street views. The main eight rooms are all sea view, each with a covered balcony. We are fairly light sleepers and road noise was not an issue throughout our stay.
Because of our extended stay, we had rooms on both the main and second levels. There are pros and cons to both. Some may prefer the direct access to the beach, pool and restaurant the main level accommodation offers, others may prefer the more private accommodation on the 2nd floor. All things being equal, we preferred being upstairs although all rooms are identical in layout. Some of the rooms had a mild musty odor, likely coming from the AC. Many travelers will be familiar with it and it is likely easily resolved.
Let’s be clear. Baan Bophut is not a luxury resort. You won’t find exquisite linens, the finest pillows, huge fluffy towels, premium toiletries, flat screen TV’s, modern bathrooms and the latest furnishings here. If you desire these goodies, there are numerous other properties in the area that will likely satisfy these demands. The Bophut Resort and Spa comes to mind.
However, what you will find is a modest, quiet, slightly quirky, family-run hotel owned by a British family, and run by a daughter with a delightful, dedicated, friendly Thai staff who are very eager to please. The hotel does not cater to children which is of considerable appeal to an ever-growing niche.
The rooms are basic, clean and comfortable. The comfy, firm beds are queen sized with decent linens and pillows, the air conditioning works well, (but only when the room is occupied), there’s a TV, a mini-bar fridge and a hotel standard digital safe. One bottle of water is provided daily and there is a coffee maker plus tea.
There is reasonable closet space with a few drawers available in the dresser and a hanging unit in the closet. More clothes hangers would be helpful. The covered balcony has two reasonably comfy chairs to read or snooze in, regardless of the vagaries of the weather.
Wi Fi is gratis and as good a signal as we have encountered anywhere in Asia, even compared to places charging more than US$20 a day for the service.
The bathroom is a simple affair with a sink, toilet and shower. The mirrors were showing their age and are probably due for replacement. The bathroom has a fairly common layout in Asia, where the shower is not self-contained so if one is not paying attention, the water goes everywhere, but drains as it should after a few minutes. Hot water was occasionally a little stubborn in arriving but did so after a few minutes. The bathroom will never be confused with what be found at the Four Seasons, but nor will there be any confusion between the daily rates at each of these two properties.
Laundry service is available and very inexpensive, with 24 hour turnaround. If you choose to use the numerous laundry services in the area, expect to pay about 50 baht per KG for washed, ironed and folded.
There is a modestly sized pool located within no more than 5 yards from the closest main floor room. It is too small for laps, but more than adequate to cool off from the hot sun. The beach is located about 20 yards from the lower level rooms across a grassy lawn.
There are sun loungers of various designs available to guests, but also to persons who purchase a meal at the hotel’s restaurant. Although this did not result in any issues during our stay, it has the potential of resulting in guests staying in the hotel being usurped by others spending 300 baht / US$10 for lunch. Management need to keep an eye on this. You will rarely be bothered by beach vendors here.
There is a very modest beach bar at the corner of the property that was rarely made use of during our stay. There are dozens of bars, restaurants and pubs in the village, no more than a 3 to 15 minute walk from the property depending on how far a field you want to go.
Bophut Beach can be described as one of those beaches that is fun to look down and walk / run on, (with shoes in most places), but not necessarily to swim in. It is endlessly shallow, especially at the east end, and at low tide. There is a river outflow about 100 yards to the east of Baan Bophut that likely contributes to the somewhat murky waters.
If you prefer beach vacations, you already know how much time you actually spend in the ocean versus walking along the beach looking at it over the course of your holiday. Our observation over the years suggests few people actually spend more than a few minutes of their entire vacation in the salt. If you prefer endless hours swimming in the ocean in front of your hotel, you may want to consider another property, possibly at Cheong Mon or Mai Nam.
The restaurant at Baan Bophut is simple, seriously understated and under utilized by guests. If you want fancy décor, or even any décor, look elsewhere. However, the food at the in-house restaurant is very inexpensive and as good as any Thai place in the village. On more than one occasion, we came back from fancier places in the Fisherman’s Village wishing we’d had eaten at the hotel. It's not that the others were bad, it's just that Baan Pophut was simple, understated and very good.
With a combination of broken English and sign language, we were able to have the kitchen prepare Thai food to our particular taste, (ie more vegetables!).
As an aside, if you want the support staff of your hotel to speak flawless English, I'm aware of a number of hotels in California, Hawaii and Arizona that will fit the bill. This is Thailand, folks. The locals speak Thai.
You’d be hard pressed to spend more than 300 baht for lunch, and unless the staff nip down to the fish market at 5pm to nab the freshest fish for your supper, you might not spend much more than that for supper. On many occasions, we brought our own wine to dinner, purchased at a nearby 7/11 at the same price as at the larger grocery stores. Beer is inexpensive in Thailand, wine is expensive, by any standard.
Breakfasts are included in the rate and are fairly basic, but a good start to the day. We made a point of stocking up on yogurt and granola from the local supermarket, located about 20 mins away by foot, or a 200-300 baht taxi ride to supplement the basic choices. If you prefer massive breakfast arrangements, I can suggest a number of hotels in the area that will fulfill your wildest gourmand dreams, provided you are prepared to pay a daily rate wildly in excess of the rates charged by Baan Bophut.
Speaking of taxis, yes it’s true. Taxi’s are far more expensive in Ko Samui than in Bangkok. What costs 50 Baht there will cost 300 Baht on the island. We’ve heard it’s because taxis in BKK are LNG vs gas in Samui. Who knows? Most smaller hotels, including Baan Bophut have a handyman / driver who will be more than happy to drive you to various locations at rates about 75% of what the “metered taxis” charge. For the record, if you actually get a driver to use a meter on Ko Samui, I’d suggest buying up as many lottery tickets as you possibly can. It won’t happen.
There is other public transportation on the main roads available for as little as 50 baht, scooters for fearless adventurers with comprehensive medical plans are inexpensive and we had no problem finding car rentals for 800-900 baht a day. As an aside, there was rarely a day during our trip when we didn't see a westerner with gauze on arms, legs and feet after quite likely coming in second in a fight between a scooter and a car.
An issue of concern to many guests was that of the various dogs at the hotel. There were no issues regarding dog poop, but a number of dog fights had to be broken up by guests and it was pretty obvious when some of the dogs were in heat. Management needs to deal with this issue as it was talked about by all the guests when we were there, to the exclusion of almost all other issues.
If one was to be picky, there was a very low, intermittent hum audible from both the main and second floor rooms. We think it had something to do with the hot water or drainage system, perhaps a pump of some sort. We asked other guests in other rooms if they were aware of it, and they were, but it wasn’t a big deal. It cycled on and off more frequently in the morning as activity began around the hotel, after 8am and was not a concern during the day.
Baan Bophut Hotel will not appeal to all, including folks looking for luxury on their annual seven day “fun in the sun” beach holiday. However, for those of us who are bored with the same interchangeable larger hotel properties and are looking for a smaller, boutique property that is back to the basics, with a price to match, we suggest including this property in your plans.
It won’t appeal to everyone, and you’ll know within a few minutes of arriving if this property is for you. It worked well for us, and we stayed for a couple of weeks, with no hesitation in planning a return visit in 2012.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A unique boutique hotel located directly on the beach in Bophut's Fisherman's Village. Private garden and beach area. 24-Hour swimming pool. Ocean view restaurant with Thai and Western specialties, and beachside bar. Newly renovated and modernized rooms and facilities (renovated in Sept 2014 and Nov 2015). Completely new penthouse rooms and suites. All guest rooms feature king beds, flat screen TVs, private seaview balconies. Penthouse rooms & suites feature separate seating areas, 4-post beds and large 48" TVs. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Baan Bophut Beach Hotel Ko Samui