Join the party at Twinpalms Phuket, which has a lush lagoon-like pool, sleek modern architecture and a dedicated team of beach butlers. Kick off your flip-flops and dance on the sand to the beat of the resident DJs, or have an altogether quieter time in the somnolent spa.
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of house wine in your room on arrival, and 20 per cent off the treatment menu in Sun Spa Esthederm
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability (50 per cent of the room rate applies to late check-outs before 6pm; a full night is charged after 6pm). Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £86.35 (THB3,513), including tax at 18.7 per cent.
Rates usually include breakfast (fresh fruit, muesli and a choice of hot options) and WiFi.
The hotel runs a daily hour-long cookery class at 5pm, in which guests are taught how to make tom yum goong (spicy sour soup). The class costs from THB1,000, including a glass of white wine, an apron and the recipe. Guests participating in the class also get a free appetiser if they dine in Oriental Spoon on the day of their class. Just book before 3pm that day.
At the hotel
Gardens, access to the nearby Surin Beach, beach butlers, spa, gym, library, stash of CDs and DVDs, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, CD and DVD player, iPod dock, minibar.
Our favourite rooms
We love the Lagoon Pool Suites, clustered around the serene green lagoon pool. Each one has a private terrace overlooking the water, decorated with comfy outdoor seating; expect to spend quite a lot of time here, holiday read in hand. The bathrooms continue the green theme, boasting conservatory windows that let in heaps of light and views of the garden.
Even Tom Daley would blink with admiration at the hotel’s pool area, which sprawls over 1,600sq m and spans a lap pool, lagoon pool and lush green water gardens.
Allocate two or three hours to pure bliss at the Palm Spa, with one of the hotel's Wellness Dream Packages. We like the sound of the Daydreamer's Deluxe treatment, which commences with a herbal steam bath or tropical flower bath and also includes a tamarind body polish, a massage with essential oils and a rejuvenating facial.
A notebook to take to the hotel’s cookery classes; disco threads for the DJs.
Make sure you tan responsibly by having an Esthederm sun treatment, tailored to your skin type, at the spa.
Little Smiths are welcome. Cots (free) and extra beds (THB1,800 for under-12s) can be added to rooms. External babysitters can be drafted in (from THB1,200 for the first three hours).
Next to your favourite piece of Thai art in Oriental Spoon. Sip a glass of wine in the wine room, overlooking the placid water garden.
Oriental Spoon has a way with grilled meat and Thai classics. The Palm Seafood Restaurant Lounge & Bar serves sushi, lavish seafood platters and dim sum-style light bites.
Your chances of going thirsty here are pretty slim: Palm Seafood Lounge & Bar lets the revelry run till late, there's a bar by the pool, and Oriental Spoon's glittering grey wine room, which has 200 labels and 3,000 bottles lurking in its cellar (no wonder the hotel was awarded the Wine Spectator Award for Excellence three years running).
Dinner is served at Oriental Spoon Grill & Bar, and the Palm Seafood Lounge & Bar until 11pm. Breakfast is served between 7am and 10.30am. Drinks flow till 11pm in the Wine Room, midnight in the Palm Seafood Bar.
Order items from Oriental Spoon’s full menu between 11am and 11pm; a lighter selection is available from 11pm until morning.
You’ll find Twinpalms on Phuket’s west coast, a few minutes' walk from Surin Beach, known as ‘millionaire’s row’ because of its glamorous annual visitors and the million-dollar houses perched on the hills overlooking the Andaman Sea.
The hotel is 25km away from Phuket International Airport (www.phuketairportonline.com), which receives regular international flights from dozens of destinations. Try Thai Airways (www.thaiairways.com), Cathay Pacific (www.cathaypacific.com) or Air Asia (www.airasia.com) if you're coming from Europe or Asia, or from Australia check out Virgin Australia (www.virginaustralia.com) or Jetstar (www.jetstar.com). Bangkok Airways (www.bangkokair.com) offers domestic connections.
Cars and sand don’t go together.
Worth getting out of bed for
Start with what’s on your doorstep: Surin Beach, the sands of which are within a two-minute walk. Guests have a personal beach butler, who'll accompany you to the shore carrying luxury beach mats and a cooler. Surfers can catch waves here between May and October (avoid the rocky middle section of the beach, though). If you need to rent any equipment, pay a visit to Saltwater Dreaming surf shop (+66 (0)76 271 050) on the Main Road. Have a cookery class at Twinpalms – you’ll be taught to make three classic dishes in just one session (and you’ll get to eat your efforts). Phuket is famed for its destination diving; ask staff to take you out snorkelling and scuba diving in the Andaman Sea.
For delicious burgers (featuring beef specially imported from Australia) and potent sundowners, head to Sea Breeze Bar (+66 (0)81 415 2884) at Hat Surin Soi 8 on Surin Beach and sit in the shade of the tropical almond trees, with Latino tunes playing softly in the background. Dress to impress and strut to Diamond Beach Club at the north end of the beach. The modest menu mentions ‘beach bites’, but don’t be deceived: Italian chef Bruno Nicollini nabbed a Michelin star for his last restaurant, Senzanome in Belgium, so expect ambitious, flavor-packed dishes. Sit at a 16-seat oval bar at Pasta (+66 (0)76 316 500; http://pastacounter.com) on Surin Beach Road and watch the chef rustle up a deliciously carby concoction. The restaurant also has two cafes, Bake and Flame, for perfect pastries.
Rum-lovers: get yourselves to Bongo Rum Bar (+66 (0)76 316 500), a short stroll from the hotel on Surin Beach, and sink some tropical libations.
Architecture and design can quickly look out of date. End of. If a hotel has been around for 10 years or so, even with the odd overhaul you can often tell it’s an old-timer. One hopes the look will become classic, but so often it doesn’t.
On the other hand, Twinpalms resort in Phuket, looks modern, fashionable, yet timeless, too, despite being 13 years old. As a Virgo (a sign known for its fastidiousness), I love to research a hotel before I arrive, but Twinpalms’ website and photos just didn’t do the hotel justice. It’s the work of acclaimed architect Martin Palleros, whose work is all the more impressive IRL.
We arrived under a barrage of rain interspersed with thunder. Heads ducked down, Mr Smith and I ran into the grand open-plan lobby, where we’re greeted with a tuberose bracelet and two glasses of champagne. So far, so good.
I always say it’s the small things that make a good hotel exceptional, but in this case Twinpalms favours a grander scale. During check-in you choose a room scent (all made using natural essential oils); pick your favourite flowers (all white, ranging from orchids to jasmine blossoms); and plump for your preferred pillows (really interesting, with even a buckwheat option for the real eco-warrior guests).
We were quickly assigned our own butler, Xor, who ferried us to our suite, then gave us his mobile number so we could WhatsApp him with any requests, 24/7. Now, when I said suite, I actually mean a dwelling that Mr Smith and I could happily live in, full time. The duplex suites all have beautiful private pools – some with waterfalls; large living areas; dining rooms; twin showers; and a kitchen stocked with all sorts of goodies – not to mention a steady flow of drinks: juices; water; coffee; tea; spirits; champagne…
The suite was also armed with a mega sound system; so, while this stay was part of our honeymoon, we very much wished we could invite 40-odd friends over for a serious party. In high season, I suspect this hotel has quite a lively ‘scene’. But, I digress; up a grand, slate staircase, our room had a balcony overlooking the pool. Upstairs we found the huge bedroom, where a lavish ensuite had an oval stone bath tub, yet another shower and double sinks (the secret to a happy marriage).
Twinpalms has a wonderful modern, minimalist look, without feeling too ‘cold’; the style fit well and there was an overall feeling of luxury and calm. We were torn between exploring the surrounding area or just staying in and rolling gleefully around in the suite. Twinpalms other lures include its sister establishments: the two beach clubs, Catch and HQ, which were enticing enough to magic us out from our room.Catch, by Bang Tao beach, happens to be one of the island’s most sophisticated hang-out spots; Mr Smith is a hardened Ibiza devotee and it won his approval, which is saying something. It’s relaxed enough to lounge around in during the day, yet really gets going in the evening, when it’s filled with a fashionable Thai and expat crowd and excellent DJs take to the decks.
The food is another plus point, with international dishes like burrata, pizza and roasted chicken, alongside some real show-stoppers like a platter of king crab, whole grilled fish and steak. By jet-setter standards it may seem a touch unadventurous, but the menu succeeds in being unpretentious, livening things up with some well-executed quirks.
The hotel also has a slick beachfront restaurant, Palm, which is the dining spot to be seen in. The design – white marble, glass, reflecting pools – was eyecatching, and the food was excellent. A shuttle bus left from the lobby each hour to ferry guests.
After an exuberant evening, we came back to a giant bunch of roses, a bottle of champagne and a bath tub scattered with rose petals; yes, staff did know this was our honeymoon, but even if this hadn’t been the case, I got the feeling that Xor would still have found some way to make our evening special.
Twinpalms is surprisingly reasonable for the luxurious experience it offers, and if – like Mr Smith – you enjoy high-end partying on your holiday, it’s perfect. With plenty to keep you occupied, it’s the best of all worlds in one.