The last couple of times we were in Bangkok, we drove northwards to the rolling hills and greenery of Khao Yai; this time, we head to the seaside resort town of Hua Hin located three hours south of the capital. Once a quiet fishing village – and sometimes described as the family friendly version of Pattaya – Hua Hin grew to become one of the most popular weekend getaways from Bangkok after the royal family built palaces in the area. This means there’s no shortage of accommodation options, and one that ticks all the right boxes for us was SO Sofitel Hua Hin.
For one, the property is located on the quieter Cha Am Beach, rather than the main Hua Hin strip. On weekends, the little town can get packed with holidaymakers with city sights like the much-loved railway station and its two night markets. Those who’d still like to head to Hua Hin can hop on SO Sofitel’s shuttle service that makes the trip four times a day at THB100 (US$3) per person each way. Number two, the brand is known for eye-popping visuals and a sophisticated aesthetic, which makes it never boring to stay in – something we were looking forward to do.
It had rained earlier in the day when we pulled up, so we missed the opportunity to walk up that impressive white marble staircase to the open-air lobby. Instead, we were escorted via a much safer route – to prevent slipping – through the service entrance. From the top, you see the beauty of Thai architect Duangrit Bunnag’s bold structure – a maze of open courtyards and private corridors with geometric lines and solid shapes, softened by a palatte of naturally aged wood. During the quick check-in process, we admired interior designer Donatien Carrier’s wild animal sculptures around the reflecting pond over a refreshing glass of roselle juice.
To get to our room, we walk down stone steps from the lobby and two floors up our residential-style block housing the SO Comfy and the SO Studio rooms. The latter are located on the ground floor with a personal terrace and outdoor seating; folks with kids can opt for one that comes attached with a Family Kids House where littlies have their own private cabin with bunk beds, toys, and entertainment system. A surprise awaited as well on our matt black door – a chalk mural of welcome adorned with landmarks of Singapore, including the Merlion.
It might be the hotel’s basic room category, but there’s nothing “entry level” about our SO Comfy room, which rang in at a very large 60 square metres (645 square feet) with an extra high ceiling. Guests also have a choice between the SO Arty style – think stylish French elegant art inspired – or the SO Nature style, of wood and hues of blue. The bed is a dream (and a godsend to stretch out on after three hours in a car), and designed exclusively for Sofitel hotels. Don’t miss the peanut candy and chocolate cookies laid out on the coffee table after the room is serviced; we wiped them out each night!
The bathroom is, honestly, one of the best parts of this temporary abode. Set with a bathtub big enough for two (bath salts available) and a separate toilet facility at the end, the DornBracht™ rainfall shower takes the spotlight in the middle of the room. There’s a wide double vanity, a convenient wooden cloths rack, and also a tiny balcony to get a bit of fresh air if things, ah, get a little too steamy. The robes, with a cheerful printed lapel, add a pop of colour to the space dominated by natural materials of stone, wood, and marble.
Dining wise, there’s the stylish Beach Society dishing out Western favourites with a Thai twist, as well as White Ovenfor Thai cuisine made with fresh, local produce. While not typically a place you might expect to be catering breakfast, Beach Society has been drafted to serve the most important meal of the day in preparation for the opening of the hotel’s expansion. The welcome papaya orange smoothie was a great way to get breakfast on the beach started, which boasted a curated menu of breakfast mains – think eggs benny, full English breakfasts, and Thai rice soup with your choie of protein – a respectable spread of pastries, sides, and fruits, and the things that made our morning: DIY Mimosas. Certainly a breakfast worth lingering over with cheese and cold cut platters prepped to order too.
Folks that enjoy brunching can return to Beach Society for their well-loved Sunday Brunch Club, happening noon to 4pm. Priced at THB990 (US$30) for an all-you-can-eat a la carte menu and THB1690 (US$51) for free flow red, white, and sparkling wines, look forward to plenty of seafood at this one while upbeat music plays up the beach club vibes. Peppered with juicy, plump local Phetchaburi clams, theSpaghetti Vongole was particularly satisfying, as was a Hot Bucket of local seafood with a tangy hot sauce and veggies for form. The tender roast pork in the Ramen Soup was also particularly good.
As with most all-day dining restaurants in hotels, the food at White Ovenare mostly kept to dishes and flavours that foreigners would be familiar with. The Vegetable Spring Rolls (THB 200), Cha-Am style with a chili plum dip, was oddly addictive while the Tom Kha Gai (THB 290) – Thai galangal soup with chicken – managed to hit all the right spots despite the heat of the afternoon. Another standout with well-balanced flavours was the Green Curry (THB 320) with pork; the Omelette with Ground Pork (THB 160) was a tad overcooked though we enjoyed the copious toppings of pork crackling too much.
On facilities, they have two swimming pools on top of the prime beach frontage open 6am-9pm daily. The Solarium Pool is open to adults only – despite the kid-friendliness of the hotel, it doesn’t mean it’s unfriendly to adults – while the SO Pool is armed with inflatables for the young and young at heart. Yoga on the beach is offered on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings and there’s a 24-hour state of the art fitness studio that features Technogym equipment with smartphone connectivity. However, when it’s rainy out and one is well-fed and well-watered, what does one do? Why, head to So Spa, of course.
Having started on the right note with a serve of cold lemongrass juice served upon arrival, the pre-treatment chat was straightforward enough. We were escorted into one of the five treatment rooms, and to help with the kinks from working 8 hours a day on the laptop, I opted for the traditional Thai Massage (THB 1800, 80 minutes). Those familiar with the massage form would know that this is an oil-free massage that combines stretching, muscle compression, and kneading pressure points; definitely not the relaxing spa treatment you’d expect. However, my therapist Au was amazing and for the first time in a month, I felt like my body was my own. Did we mention that you could also choose your music in the treatment room?
Post treatment, we were escorted to this cocoon-like structure with sparkly lights like stars in a desert sky. Hot ginger tea and dried fruit accompany this winding down.
SO Sofitel Hua Hin is located at 115 Moo 7 Tambol Bangkao Phetchaburi, Cha-am District, Phetchaburi 76120, Thailand, p. +66 32 709 555.