Join the party at Twinpalms Phuket, which has a lush lagoon-like pool, sleek modern architecture and sea-to-table dining. Kick off your flip-flops and dance on the sand, custom cocktail in-hand, or have an altogether quieter time in the somnolent spa.
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 £143.64 (THB6,074), including tax at 18.7 per cent.
Rates usually include breakfast (fresh fruit, muesli and a choice of hot options) and WiFi.
Unfortunately, there's limited accessibility for those with reduced mobility.
At the hotel
Gardens, access to the nearby Surin Beach, shuttle services to surrounding beaches, 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 heated 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.
Loose linens and your best flip flops.
Welcome. Those aged four to 11 can stay on a sofa bed for free (THB 385 to include breakfast for over-threes) and extra beds are THB 2,000 for over-11s a night (breakfast included); THB 4,000 in peak season (20 to 30 December and 1 to 5 January).
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. Wagyu Steakhouse serves up crafted cocktails and single malt whiskeys with dry aged steaks and freshly caught lobsters.
Your chances of going thirsty here are pretty slim: Wagyu Steakhouse 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).
Oriental Spoon Grill & Bar serves breakfast from 7am to 10.30am and dinner from 6pm to 10pm. Seared steaks are served at Wagyu Steakhouse from 6pm until midnight.
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. 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. Phuket is famed for its destination diving; ask staff to take you out snorkelling and scuba diving in the Andaman Sea.
For delicious seafood and potent sundowners, head to Shimmer Restauranton Kamala Beach and sit in the shade of the tropical trees as gentle tunes play in the background. Drinks are poured all day at Catch Beach Club on Bang Tao Beach, and a little further down the beach Kalido serves up grilled skewers, freshly-fried tempura and garlicky seafood linguines.
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.
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.