Welcome to our Hotel Tip of The Week series. Being on the road every day of the year means we stay in countless hotels, and at over 500 days as nomads, we have stayed some of the best (and worst) accommodation the world has to offer. We cover everything from budget to luxury accommodation, and believe that any hotel worth recommending must be comfortable and clean, offer good value for money and treat people as guests, not clients. We have personally stayed in every hotel we recommend to you here on Globetrottergirls.com. This week: Tropicana Lanta Resort in Koh Lanta.
Dani had surprised me with a week-long holiday on the island of Ko Lanta as a birthday gift back in September. When we finally arrived on the island over a month later, our need for a relaxing week was desperate – Bangkok had been a bust and bus rides were bouncy and long. From the moment we stepped out of the shuttle bus at Tropicana Lanta Resort, however, we knew we were in good hands.
Two of the nicest (and tiniest) men scooted out to grab our dusty backpacks, and we were escorted to the relaxing reception area where we were served a glass of cool sweet tea and given warm hand towels while we checked in.
Any negative feelings quickly evaporated as we walked through the villa through tropical plants and past a pair of lazy kittens soaking up sun on the front steps of empty bungalows. It was the end of low season, and of the 24 cabins that make up the resort, only a few were occupied at any given time.
We shut the sliding glass doors to our poolside bungalow and felt true peace and quiet envelope us for the first time in over a week. The design was stylish, the contrast of white flowing curtains and deep brown wood was comforting. The spacious room had plenty of windows and glass doors which let in loads of natural light. As requested, we were given a bungalow with a king-size bed (unlike our usual adventures with two single beds) and fluffy pillows. The nightly turn-down service included beautiful tropical flowers and was a really special touch. The room’s showcase, however, was outside – the outdoor bathroom.
Literally everything was outside – the marble pedestal sink, the shower, even the toilet. It took some getting used to to sneak outside for a wee at night (we took a flashlight), but there was nothing more invigorating than the time spent under the chrome rain shower-head, under the sun or a starry night sky, surrounded by jungle. The high back wall kept this a private affair, but we did have guests staring at us a couple of mornings…an entire troupe of monkeys! Tiny babies flipping freely through trees or clutching onto mama’s belly were super sweet to watch, while protective papas glared at us, watching our every move, was more intimidating. We just stared right back, fascinated at sharing this luxurious space with monkeys in their native habitat. Two of the monkeys even forgot our presence and things got hot and steamy after the others moved further along in the forest!
Tropicana Lanta is a small off-beach resort with only the 24 villas, a relaxing pool/jacuzzi area (see more in ‘Stand-Out Feature section) and the breezy restaurant/reception nearer to the road. Open to the public for lunch and dinner, breakfast (included in the room rate) is reserved for guests. Each morning, a table is laid out with locally-baked bread (white/wheat) for you to toast to your liking, plus cut-up fresh fruit, interesting Thai sweets, tea and coffee. At our table, we were served carafes of pineapple and orange juice while choosing a main dish off the breakfast menu: pancakes, french toast, eggs and ham or a traditional Thai rice soup.
In the main building, the hotel website boasts a library, an internet cafe and meeting rooms, but in reality there are a few bookshelves and three computers, and while there were rumors of in-room wi-fi, several guests with laptops joined us in the restaurant, the only spot with a wi-fi connection. The always-smiling staff went above and beyond to make sure we had what we needed each day (although English was limited) and by the end of our week on the island, they bade us a friendly farewell.
Ko Lanta is large and spread out, with the main population clustered around three main beach areas. One (Klong Khon Beach) is within easy walking distance. The rest of the island is best reached by motorbike and if you know how to drive one, the hotel rents several for $6 a day. For the rest of us, there are plenty of tuk-tuks to hop in and get round the island no problem. The resort also offers a very handy, free shuttle service at 11am daily, which brings you right in to Saladan (the town on the northern tip of the island), where there is a grocery store, banks, restaurants and all the tourist trinkets you could ever want. You’ll have to hop in a tuk-tuk to get back. The hotel also offers a full listing of massage services, which can be taken poolside or on your own front porch.
Stand Out Feature: The swimming pool
Whether we were floating on our backs looking up at the jungle canopy or lounging on deck chairs listening to the chirping birds, the pool was the most relaxing area of the hotel. The jacuzzi wasn’t running during our stay, but we can only imagine that during high season when the resort is in full swing, this would be another great place to relax.
Room for improvement: Vegetarian menu options
Thai cuisine is traditionally rich with vegetarian options, so the lack of veggie food – both Western and Thai – available on the menu was disappointing. Restaurants and bars are all a good away, which means that, especially at night, we would have eaten on-site on several occasions had there been vegetarian options on the menu.
Overall: Tropicana Lanta Resort
Ko Lanta has managed the influx of tourism much better than neighboring (tourist-traps) islands of Phuket and Koh Phi Phi, retaining an almost undiscovered feel in comparison. Located off the beach and in between town makes Tropicana Lanta feel ever more secluded, and the peaceful setting and rustic charm of the hotel makes this an affordable, yet indulgent escape.
Location: 352 Moo 2, Long Beach, Saladan, Ko Lanta, Thailand
Price: Starting at 1,545BHT/$50 per bungalow in low season
LGBT Friendly: Not outwardly
Amenities: Swimming pool, free wi-fi in the restaurant area, book exchange, complimentary breakfast, daily drinking water, free pick-up from pier