Travel Tales: Bo Phut, Koh Samui (Thailand)

I really, really needed this holiday.

I know I know, I’m “lucky” not have the typically stressful 9-5 work day. I don’t have to set an alarm, battle with a commute, or deal with Management dramas anymore. But I promise my life is still pretty tough, even if its not in the conventional sense. Constant appointments with Doctors, Specialists and Solicitors take their toll. My days consist of endless money worries, form-filling, repeating myself and remembering which medication to take when – and my nights are spent not sleeping trying to remember who I have to battle with the next day.

Our beach

So…the prospect of two weeks on a beach in the sunshine, without my phone or laptop, was thrilling. In truth, I was uber-excited. Think 5 year old on Christmas Eve. So excited in fact, that by the time we got to the airport I had worked myself up into a little frenzy and convinced myself that I would end up massively disappointed; maybe it would rain every day, maybe my luggage would be lost, maybe I’d get poisoned by a rogue prawn….(all of which have honestly  happened to me on recent trips abroad.)

I needn’t have worried. I was in store for a pretty damn perfect 14 days – in a place that can only be described as heaven on earth.

We had started the whole holiday search looking at some rather smashing looking hotels in and around Chaweng Beach. However, that’s more lads on tour than quiet break and I wasn’t exactly convinced, so we decided to steer clear of the over-developed, hectic strip. Seeing as we had decided to do absolutely nothing for the entire time we were there, I wanted to be sure we had the absolutely perfect place to do nothing in. So, I had a sneaky look around for other options that would be slightly less hectic, with the possibility of slightly fewer ladyboys…and decided on Bo Phut – close enough to Chaweng to visit for a night out, yet far enough away to ignore it if required.

My first clue that the hotel we settled on would be a pretty chilled out place to stay was the name. The PeaceOur house Resort. Kind of gives the game away, don’t you think?! Set in a beautiful, elegant area of  Bo Phut, a 5 minute beach stroll front the quaint Fisherman’s Village, The Peace Resort is a family run venture, consisting of a collection of Bungalows, each designed as a mini-suite, that form their own mini-Thai Village.

We were smiling at each other from the moment we arrived (which is pretty good after a 16 hour journey). The staff were fantastic, and the greeting matched the weather, incredibly warm! Within a few minutes we were checked in, had cool towels to help us freshen up after the trip, and a complimentary drink.

Our own bungalow was reached via a pathway through stunning flowers and foliage, with the sounds of birds chirping and not much else. A huge bed, gigantic bathtub and shower underneath a clear roof, and private terrace were waiting for us, so we chilled, appreciated and relaxed before heading back out through the subtly lit greenery and finding our way to the pool and beachside restaurant and bar.

Seafood at Sea WrapOh. My. Goodness. We chose the ideal night to arrive. After a couple of beers, we opted for The Sea Wraps nightly special – a BBQ Seafood Platter with garlic fried rice. The dish consisted of the freshest white snapper, enormous tiger prawns, squid and crab, with plenty of each to share. Each mouthful had us grinning and wanting more – and that set the tone for the food for the entire time we were there. Not a bad meal was had by either of us, and for two people who love our food as much as we do, that can never be a bad thing! I couldn’t possibly list every restaurant we enjoyed, but a couple of other favourites were the Thai Green Curry at Starfish & Coffee and  The Seafood Stick with Wasabi Mayo at The Pier. There were also many stunning restaurants along the beach where you order a slap up feast of 4 or 5 authentic dishes, washed down with some Chang beer, for about £5 a head. Bargain. That is of course, until you reach the end of the beach – at the opposite end to The Pier, and you reach Zazen. Spectacular, breath-taking, enchanting Zazen.

We first spotted it from the beach when we were taking a walk through the surf. It didn’t look much from a distance in the daylight, but we thought we’d give it a try some time during our stay, and thank goodness we did!

I must admit we totally underestimated the “poshness” of this place for our first visit and strolled up from the beach entrance at about 9.40, in relaxed outfits, to be told that the kitchen closed at 10 so we would have toZazen be quick. Suited us fine, we weren’t expecting too much – until we were seated. From the initial presentation of the menu (complete with their own reading lights, which The Boy found most impressive) to the second we left the building, the service was impeccible. There are three parts to the menu – Western, Eastern and a selection of Tasting options – all of which looked delicious. He chose duck carpaccio followed by sea bass, I chose sesame and wasabi king prawns, followed by steak (not very Thai I know, but I was craving!). All 4 dishes were faultless. The presentation was some of the best I have ever witnessed & each individual flavour burst through. I could talk through that meal for ages but I don’t want to get boring (or feel a burning desire to get on a plane and go back). I think the total cost came to around £60 including drinks – so whilst it wasn’t one of our cheapest meals – it was certainly a bargain compared to what a similar meal would cost in London! We left that night happy and feeling good as they escorted us out through the front entrance back to the road. Which is when I think I fell out of like and fell head over heels in love with the place.

Zazen turned out to be a boutique hotel and spa – the absolute height of fabulousness. With uber-cool rooms, stunning decor, and nooks and crannies full of hidden surprises, such as huge couples spa-beds, stylish Buddha statues and a totally gorgeous reception area. Think traditional Thai style mixed with contemporary luxury. B-EAUT-I-FUL.

We genuinely didn’t do much during the daytime, other than laze about in the sunshine, drinking strawberry dacquiris, reading and chatting nonsense (in truth, The Boy attempted to read, I talked nonsense. He doesn’t really do nonsense). A couple of snakes, a random gribbeting toad and two flying lizards kept us pretty well entertained on the nature front – and both the sea and the pool were warm and great to dip into when the 95 degrees got a little bit too much!

Big BuddhaWe made a couple of trips into Chaweng early evening for some shopping, eating and drinking – stopping by to see the Monks and Big Buddha on the way (and my god, that Buddha is HUGE!) Recommendations in Chaweng would be Salinas, for laid back, chilled music before sunset, and Ibiza-style parties after dark or Ark Bar, for cheap beers, lazy bean bags on the beach and some classic tunes.

Our one big day out that is well worth a mention was at the stylish and ever-sexy Nikki Beach, over the other side of the island at Lipa Noi. I was ridiculously happy when I saw the sign for the venue outside our hotel as I had no idea they had recently opened up in Koh Samui, so we booked up for Sunday Brunch and a Bottle Bed, and off we went.

If you like luxury, don’t mind spending a pound or two, enjoy attentative service, great food and stunning locations, you really should get yourself along to a Nikki Beach if you haven’t already. The brunch was a delectable feast, with options ranging fom traditional Thai cuisine, to roast beef, to sushi, to traditional English breakfast. The eggs benedict were to die for, and The Boy loved them so much he made me promise they’d be his next Sunday breakfast in bed…he’ll get them if he behaves! The music was soulful and sexy, the people were beautiful, and Michael Sin and the team looked after us perfectly from beginning to end.Nikki Beach 3 bottles of Rose and a couple of cocktails in the sunshine may have been a little excessive for little old me though….so we left around 6pm and The ever patient Boy ordered room service in bed back at our hotel 🙂

It was all over way too soon for my liking, I didn’t get nearly brown enough (this is not true) and despite my best efforts, only managed to wear about 3/4 of the clothes I had so lovingly packed. But I genuinely don’t have a bad word to say about the whole experience. The Peace Resort was perfect for some serious coupleness – the management were fantastic, the staff were some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met, the breakfast buffet was delicious every day, and the restaurant itself was tip top.

In fact, everywhere we ate was brilliant, from the cheapest to the most luxurious – with one teeny exception – Red Snapper in Chaweng. There was nothing wrong with the food at all, it was decent enough, but seeing as it cost us MORE than our first meal at Zazen, and was nowhere near as good, value for money there was questionable…

The weather was great – we had a few cloudy days but it was always 80 degrees plus and beautiful. Location wise, things couldn’t have been better. And I was with The Boy, in paradise. Brilliant.

So, all too soon was the last night, and a HUGE and spectacular electric storm that lit up the sky like fireworks. As usual in Thailand, it was over within an hour, and that fabulous Boy of mine suggested we headed back to Zazen, early, to make the most of our last night and the whole experience. And so we did.

We started with champagne cocktails, ate lobster, and toasted to the loveliest holiday ever.

Am I happy to be back? Kind of. Would I go again? Definitely.

Am I the luckiest little lady in the world? I think so!

(If you have any intention of visiting Koh Samui anytime soon, I really would recommend a visit to all of the places we loved. We flew with Thai Air, the plane food was great and the changes at Bangkok relatively quick both ways. I’d also keep an eye on Camilles ace blog, for local information and up to date weather reports. Go. Enjoy!)
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