At Cape Kudu on sleepy Koh Yao Noi, days begin with tropical breakfasts and end with starlit dinners. Coconut farms, deserted beaches and dazzling dive sites beckon in between. A sense of serenity pervades throughout, from the ocean-inspired, sartorial symphony of white-and-blue and wood-and-stone, to the laid-back, linen-clad staff, deliciously relaxed restaurant, pleasantly shaded café and cocktail-acing bar. As if that wasn’t soul-soothing enough, there’s also a peaceful spa that dishes up traditional Thai massages, Indian head massages, reflexology rituals and more. Discover a calmer you at Cape Kudu.
Double rooms from £195.79 (THB8,640), including tax at 17 per cent.
Rates usually include an Asian-American buffet-style breakfast.
At the hotel
Public beach nearby, gym, spa, little boutique, free WiFi. In rooms: TV, DVD player, air conditioning, free bottled water, minibar, tea and coffee.
Our favourite rooms
All rooms are rather lovely – each has its own balcony with a hammock chair, designed for optimum lazing. The Pool Villas merit the extra cost, thanks to their private pool and view-toting balcony; the Private Two-Bedroom Pool Villa is an all-out stunner, sure to seduce privacy-seeking friends and families.
There’s a pretty alfresco pool at the front of the resort, with a shallow end for water babies.
Treat yourself to a traditional Thai massage, Indian head massage, reflexology session, body scrub, rub or wrap at the light and airy Cape Spa, which prescribes generous doses of pampering across its five treatment rooms. Or, take a trip to the sauna before cooling off at the adult-only indoor spa pool. Fitness fanatics can get their fix at the neighbouring gym, where they'll find cardio equipment, fixed and free weights, power plates and trixter bike.
Leave space in your suitcase, then fill it with kaftan-shaped plunder from the hotel’s stylish boutique.
Public areas are wheelchair accessible; some rooms have been modified, too. Babysitting is available for Baht 400 per hour, or Baht 600 after 10pm – six hours notice is required.
Little Smiths aged one and above are welcome. The pool and restaurants are family friendly; little ones can even request arts and crafts materials during mealtimes, so as to prevent the dreaded ‘I’m bored!’ klaxon.
By night, nab a table by the pool and count the stars. (If you’re popular with mozzies, head back inside.)
Island dreaming: shells, pearls, lashings of sun-bleached white. Unless you want to be mistaken for staff, avoid slouchy linen top-and-trouser combos in neutral hues.
Opposite the pool, Hornbill Restaurant is a relaxed space with mix-and-match chairs, little tables and big fans. Pick from Thai and international cuisine; if you want something super local, the chefs will select some traditional dishes from the early morning market and serve them up at breakfast. (Speaking of which, don’t miss the roti cart.) Other highlights include the southern crab curry served with rice noodles, and the sticky rice and mango dessert. If you’re lucky, a hornbill or two might swing by while you’re feasting. Beach-shack–style Café Kantary is right at the front of the property, luring in non-guests, too. This relaxed snack bar serves sandwiches, pizza, coffee and beer; stay in your swimwear while you eat, if you like.
Hornbill Restaurant shares space with Long Island Bar: your cue to kick back and relax with a tropical cocktail or a refreshing G&T. Stake out one of the rustic pavilions or lounge in the shade, accompanied by a holiday read.
Breakfast runs from 6.30am to 10.30am, lunch from noon to 5pm and dinner is served from 6pm. Café Kantary closes at 10pm; Hornbill stays open an extra hour.
24-hours a day – late night dining options are available from 11pm to 6am
Cape Kudu is on the remote island of Koh Yao Noi in the Andaman Sea, halfway between Phuket and Krabi.
Fly into Phuket International Airport. From the airport, arrange a transfer or hop in a taxi to Bang Rong Pier, 20 minutes away, where you can relax in the comfortable Cape Kudu Hospitality Lounge with free refreshments, WiFi, newspapers and magazines until a speedboat whisks you off on the 30-minute crossing to Manoh Pier on Koh Yao Noi. A 15-minute car transfer later and you’ll be at Cape Kudu.
If you’re coming from Thalane Pier in Krabi, skim over the waves to Tha Khao Pier on Koh Yao Noi by speedboat in 20 minutes. For a more traditional experience, opt for a long-tailed boat journey, which takes 40 minutes.
Worth getting out of bed for
Go on an afternoon adventure at a local lobster farm (with optional pit stops at a white-sand beach or two and a rugged hilltop). Make sure you’re back in time for a sunset cruise in Kantus Bride: Cape Kudu’s beloved vessel. If you fancy zipping around on a moped, it’s easy to hire one just outside the hotel. Sign up for Mina’s Thai Cookery Class with the wonderful eponymous Mina, who will give you a whistlestop education in Thai culinary arts during your private lesson. Go rock-climbing on the northern end of the island or join a bike tour of Yao Noi. Beach-bunnies should don their swimwear for Loh Paret and Loh Jark, two winsome stretches of sun-kissed, wave-lapped sand; keen divers can plunge below the depths to admire the King Cruiser Wreck near Anemone Reef, or the pinnacles of Shark Point. Take a trip to nearby Koh Hong in the hotel’s long-tailed boat – you’ll feel like you’re the first ones to discover the island’s unspoiled beaches. Staff can take you on an island-hopping adventure if you’re reluctant to return to dry land...
Stay put at the hotel for breakfast or brunch, but venture out later to Pradu Seafood at Tha Tondo pier (there’s no address, but the obliging hotel staff will point you in the right direction). Expect succulent seafood at reasonable prices from this rustic, relaxed restaurant. At the other end of the scale, don’t miss the swish Dining Room at Smith-approved Six Senses Yao Noi, which serves farm-to-table European influenced cuisine in a setting so swish, it even has a creek meandering beneath a glass floor – plus a chef’s table for eight lucky guests.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this laid-back hotel in Thailand and unpacked their underwater cameras and Cape Kudu kaftans, a full account of their Thai island break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Cape Kudu on Koh Yao Noi…
Newsflash: you don’t spend enough time on tropical Thai islands. Don’t panic; Cape Kudu on Koh Yao Noi is on a mission to help you change this. All you need to do is get yourself to Phuket’s Bang Rong Pier (and the comfort of Cape Kudu’s air-conditioned lounge); from there, a speedboat will whisk you off across the glittering waters towards a calmer, more collected, island-ier version of yourself. The version of you that begins the day at a bounty of sea-facing breakfast stations serving everything from curries to Continental options and pancakes; the version of you that loses track of time underwater at dazzling dive sites and above water at billionaire-worthy beaches; the version of you that throws on loose linen layers and soft leather sandals for starlit seafood feasts, then goes to bed with a little bit of sand between your toes. That precise version of you is waiting at Cape Kudu: go and find it.