Villas in Koh Samui, Thailand

The third largest island in Thailand, Koh Samui is just 21km at its widest point and 25km at its longest. The hinterland consists of forested limestone hills and the shoreline is made up of countless coconut palm-fringed beaches and bays.

Traditionally a coconut plantation and fisherman's haven, in the last few years the island has grown into a major holiday destination with regular connections to Bangkok and direct flights from Hong Kong and Singapore. Despite rapid development, Samui is small enough to retain its charm and its modest size also makes it a convenient, laid back location even during busy seasons.

As well as fine beaches, Samui is known for recreation, relaxation and fine food. The blue waters of the Thai Gulf provide a wealth of possibility for water sports, while on land the island is well known for its professional and indulgent spas and health retreats. Fresh seafood is a specialty at most of Samui's restaurants, but you can also enjoy food from almost every corner of the globe thanks to the island's strong international influences.

Each beach on Samui has its own particular character and ambience. The east coast beaches of Chaweng and Lamai are busy, commercial areas with everything from beach vendors to fast food chains, while to the north, Bang Rak and Bo Phut have a more relaxed local village atmosphere. Beaches like Lipa Noi and Laem Set on the western and southern shores feel much more remote and untouched.

Koh Samui combines comfort and convenience with a sense of real escape and this has made it a popular choice for residential as well as tourist development. The island is an eclectic blend of nature and sophistication, one that draws repeat visitors every year to indulge in its tropical delights.

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Motsamot

Motsamot

Thailand » Koh Samui » Choeng Mon

Our initial concern at the location soon gave way to satisfied sighs when we settled into Motsamot's appealing, natural surroundings. The serene forested setting and abundance of space more than compensated for the lack of beach or ocean views, and with 20m of cool blue pool to swim and splash around in we never felt an overpowering urge to get sand between our toes.

The villa's intriguing design touches and framed photographs of Asia not only make it feel homely, but also had us pointing out details to each other; playing 'guess the country of origin' as we admired the owner's well-travelled taste. It's hard to confine yourself to one spot at Motsamot and we definitely wished we'd come as a group to make the most of all the different lounging, dining and bathing options. The staff happily but unobtrusively followed us around, bringing us cool drinks as we switched from pool to sala to lounge and finally to the terrace. They even moved the furniture outside for us when we decided the latter was the best place to relax with a book. Having a rental car meant both Choeng Mon and Chaweng were an easy hop for dinner by the sea. During the day we survived on the filling breakfast (included) and then snacks we bought at the local minimart. Not a choice for seasoned beach freaks perhaps, but certainly a very comfortable and original villa if, like us, you like a bit of privacy, plus the freedom to come and go with ease.

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Mullion Cove

Mullion Cove

Thailand » Koh Samui » Bophut

We found Mullion Cove a refreshing change from many of the villas of this grade we've inspected on Koh Samui, some of which feel a little impersonal or built-to-rent. The cool white decor and homely furnishings here reminded us of a more traditional European style, but with a light, bright and energetic feel that suits the tropics. Because the garden is constantly in the sun, the glass-fronted living room and the bedrooms do get rather warm, but the air conditioning and closed bedroom curtains cooled things down and once we acclimatized, it was just as pleasant to stay outside from breakfast until sunset, switching between the pool, sun beds and sala. Although the master suite in the main pavilion is an extravagant affair, we chose the front bedroom pavilion as it was closer to the trees with its own private terrace. Waking up to the sound of the birds and flinging open the curtains to soak in the panoramic sea views more than made up for any lack of beach.

Mullion Cove lets you mix your holiday pleasures with ease. If you tire of the sun you can retreat to the lounge to catch up on films and books, constantly within reach of a tasty snack or cold drink. There's even an intercom in the kitchen to call the maid if she's not within sight and she's happy to help prepare meals beyond the included breakfast if you choose not to hire a chef. Bo Phut is perhaps Samui's least spoilt beachside village, so trips down the hill are a treat, especially to eat out and enjoy the beachside ambience. It's an easy drive, but you have to be careful at night because there are few lights on the road that leads to the villa. If you're sharing with family and friends, you probably won't venture out much as Mullion Cove is a fabulous place to relax and escape from the world.

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Mullion Cove

Mullion Cove

Thailand » Koh Samui » Bophut

We found Mullion Cove a refreshing change from many of the villas of this grade we've inspected on Koh Samui, some of which feel a little impersonal or built-to-rent. The cool white decor and homely furnishings here reminded us of a more traditional European style, but with a light, bright and energetic feel that suits the tropics. Because the garden is constantly in the sun, the glass-fronted living room and the bedrooms do get rather warm, but the air conditioning and closed bedroom curtains cooled things down and once we acclimatized, it was just as pleasant to stay outside from breakfast until sunset, switching between the pool, sun beds and sala. Although the master suite in the main pavilion is an extravagant affair, we chose the front bedroom pavilion as it was closer to the trees with its own private terrace. Waking up to the sound of the birds and flinging open the curtains to soak in the panoramic sea views more than made up for any lack of beach.

Mullion Cove lets you mix your holiday pleasures with ease. If you tire of the sun you can retreat to the lounge to catch up on films and books, constantly within reach of a tasty snack or cold drink. There's even an intercom in the kitchen to call the maid if she's not within sight and she's happy to help prepare meals beyond the included breakfast if you choose not to hire a chef. Bo Phut is perhaps Samui's least spoilt beachside village, so trips down the hill are a treat, especially to eat out and enjoy the beachside ambience. It's an easy drive, but you have to be careful at night because there are few lights on the road that leads to the villa. If you're sharing with family and friends, you probably won't venture out much as Mullion Cove is a fabulous place to relax and escape from the world.

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Villa Riva

Villa Riva

Thailand » Koh Samui » Bang Por-Nathon

Villa Riva’s sprawling Thai-style buildings with red-tiled roofs, gave us the initial impression of entering a boutique hotel rather than a private residence. But clever design and furnishings turns what could have been an imposing structure into an intimate luxury villa.

With bedrooms and living areas housed in separate buildings, peace and quiet is easy to come by. On the other hand, Riva's excellent facilities make it a great villa for socialising. We spent our afternoon sunning ourselves on the pool deck, attempting to swim the full 32-metre-length of the pool, and exploring the beach and rock pools, before enjoying sundowners as we watched fishing boats coming and going and the sun sinking into the bay.

A seafood dinner was enjoyed alfresco in the barbecue sala alongside the pool. The villa’s elevated position on the headland means it catches the breeze perfectly, but on a still night, the sala has a ceiling fan to cool. And of course, you can always refresh with a moonlit dip in the pool that appears as an extension of the sea.

Music piped through indoor and outdoor speakers added to the mood (there’s an extensive selection of music with controls throughout the clubhouse and in the sala). Ending the evening on a high note, we retreated to the home cinema, reclined our seats to near horizontal and, at the touch of the iPad control, settled in with popcorn and drinks for a few hours of entertainment. After a good night’s rest in fluffy white bedding, there was nothing nicer than waking to the sounds of the birds  – knowing that we didn’t have to get up just yet, but could indulgently savour the view from the comfort of our bed. Once we did manage to get up and about, the smell of breakfast on the go and coffee brewing drew us to the dining room where we could continue to enjoy the ocean views.
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Samui Summit Estate - Hilltop View 2

Samui Summit Estate - Hilltop View 2

Thailand » Koh Samui » Choeng Mon

We thoroughly appreciated the care and dedication that had clearly gone into furnishing and decorating Hilltop View 2. And the years that the owners spent amassing their treasure trove of antiques and collectables have certainly paid off. However, the house doesn’t feel like a museum – many of the pieces are usable items, although a few, such as the teapot collection, are carefully put away for eyes only.

Although TV shouldn’t make or break a holiday, it was nice to be able to watch what we wanted from our bed, each room having its own satellite channels. Not that we managed to stay awake for long: the bed was so comfortable (with both down and foam pillows) that sleep came quickly. But be careful! The silent air-con and black out curtains meant that it was all too easy to miss the sunrise and that early morning beach run. We made the most of the tropical climate by drifting between the pool and jacuzzi for cooling down, reading in the shaded sala, and grabbing a drink from the outdoor bar in between. The housekeeper keeps the villa spotless and estate manager Khun Birth is happy to act as a concierge service and book any extras or activities you may require, such as a chef, massage, or transfer, and is knowledgeable on what to do in the area.

We chose to open up the sliding doors to the pool and let in the sea breeze while enjoying our continental breakfast, later changing to air-con when the midday heat set in. The fully equipped compact kitchen offered a home-from-home feel and we enjoyed whipping up a few snacks after stocking up at the fresh food market. Making use of the private chef one night was however an indulgent luxury not to be missed.
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Samui Summit Estate - Hilltop View 4

Samui Summit Estate - Hilltop View 4

Thailand » Koh Samui » Choeng Mon

When we arrived at Hilltop View 4, we were as impressed as any child would be at having our own cinema with individual seat controls, and a pool that twinkles with different coloured lights at night. We also felt a curious childhood urge to play hide and seek! There’s such an abundance of perfect hiding spots amongst the many rooms, levels and alcoves here. And as our feet dangled from the huge chairs in the exceptionally high-ceilinged living room, we knew exactly what Alice must have felt like after she sipped the ‘drink me’ potion in Wonderland!

But there are few that wouldn’t be impressed by this villa. Its spectacular views don’t even fade with the sunset, when village lights, a green glow from the squid fishing boats, fireworks from the beach resorts, or perhaps a distant tropical storm light up the sky.

Hilltop View 4 is a true party pad. The kitchen is well set up for events, and there’s a second staff kitchen big enough for a team of chefs. Of course the central music system and mood lighting adds to the perfect party atmosphere, as do the three bars and pool deck. Lavish bedrooms offer solitude and tranquillity when needed and we felt that, with so many levels and living spaces, at no point would guests feel on top of each other, even if the villa was full.

When we felt the need to pay for our over-indulgence at one of the many excellent local seafood restaurants, a friendly game of tennis (racket and ball hire available at the office) at the estate’s shared court, or a walk down to the beach – and back – did the trick.

We enjoyed delicious breakfasts prepared by the resident housekeeper, but if you would like a private chef to prepare other meals at the villa, this can easily be arranged for a reasonable fee plus provisions charged at cost (plus 15% service). Khun Pee, the villa manager, will gladly help you arrange a chef and can take care of many other concierge services too, be it an in-house massage or a boat trip to one of Samui’s outlying islands.
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Shiva Samui Resort - Baan Chanchai

Shiva Samui Resort - Baan Chanchai

Thailand » Koh Samui » Laem Set

Arriving at Shiva Samui Resort on a very hot day, we were met by friendly guest service staff who escorted us to Baan Chanchai and its inviting swimming pool.  Eager to see what the estate had to offer, we strolled the 100m to the beach after a refreshing swim and were stopped in our tracks by the view – a white sandy beach, vivid blue of the shallow sea, and a bright blue sky with wispy white clouds.  But punctuating the scene were dashes of colour from the kite surfers’ catching the breeze.  Lower down, someone was gently paddling a duck-yellow kayak along the shore, and further yet, a local fisherman was stringing up nets.  It’s hard to ignore a view like this, and we wanted nothing more than to be a part of it, so before even unpacking our bags we were enquiring about kite surfing lessons.

We found ourselves torn between wanting to make the most of all Shiva Samui Resort has to offer, and just relaxing and enjoying the sea breeze by the pool.  The solution: to wake early, head to the gym or for a sunrise run on the beach, and then relax by the pool.  When the kids get restless, the kids’ club comes in handy and mum can book a spa treatment at the same time.  For the energetic, you’ll find plenty of country roads to explore by mountain bike, as this is the quieter side of the island.  Or, perhaps a friendly tennis challenge will work off some energy before another dip in the pool.

Come evening time, the Clubhouse Restaurant is festive, with live music on some evenings, happy hour and a games room with pool and table tennis.  We were lucky enough to stay on a Monday night, when the à la carte menu is replaced by a Thai buffet.  The tasty spread was well presented and offered a good selection.  Thursday evenings present a barbecue buffet for another change from the usual menu.  We were equally impressed by the selection on offer at the breakfast buffet, a great way to start the day.

Although the villa is small, we found it perfect for our little group (two adults and two kids) and enjoyed the outdoor living spaces, comfortable beds and rain showers.
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Shiva Samui Resort - Baan Khwam Rak

Shiva Samui Resort - Baan Khwam Rak

Thailand » Koh Samui » Laem Set

Arriving at Shiva Samui Resort on a very hot day, we were met by friendly guest service staff who escorted us to Baan Khwam Rak and its inviting swimming pool.  Eager to see what the estate had to offer, we strolled the 100m to the beach after a refreshing swim and were stopped in our tracks by the view – a white sandy beach, vivid blue of the shallow sea, and a bright blue sky with wispy white clouds. But punctuating the scene were dashes of color from the kite surfers’ catching the breeze.  Lower down, someone was gently paddling a duck-yellow kayak along the shore, and further yet, a local fisherman was stringing up nets.  It’s hard to ignore a view like this, and we wanted nothing more than to be a part of it, so before even unpacking our bags we were inquiring about kite surfing lessons.

We found ourselves torn between wanting to make the most of all Shiva Samui Resort has to offer, and just relaxing and enjoying the sea breeze by the pool.  The solution: to wake early, head to the gym or for a sunrise run on the beach, and then relax by the pool.  When the kids get restless, the kids’ club comes in handy and mum can book a spa treatment at the same time.  For the energetic, you’ll find plenty of country roads to explore by mountain bike, as this is the quieter side of the island.  Or, perhaps a friendly tennis challenge will work off some energy before another dip in the pool.

Come evening time, the Clubhouse Restaurant is festive, with live music on some evenings, happy hour and a games room with pool and table tennis.  We were lucky enough to stay on a Monday night, when the à la carte menu is replaced by a Thai buffet.  The tasty spread was well presented and offered a good selection.  Thursday evenings present a barbecue buffet for another change from the usual menu.  We were equally impressed by the selection on offer at the breakfast buffet, a great way to start the day.

We found Baan Khwam Rak perfect for our group, sleeping six comfortably, and enjoyed the outdoor living spaces, comfortable beds and rain showers.
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Shiva Samui Resort - Baan Lotus

Shiva Samui Resort - Baan Lotus

Thailand » Koh Samui » Laem Set

Although it looked a little boxed-in when we first arrived, once inside, the spacious interiors at Baan Lotus quickly made us forget that we were surrounded by similar properties. The homely atmosphere makes this an experience more akin to traditional self-catering holidays than to the new upscale villa rental concepts that have taken over in many parts of Samui. This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you have kids, because staying within a private, gated community brings added security, and with an office on-site and staff ready to handle requests and deal with problems, it’s very convenient too.     

The beach in front of Shiva Samui Resort is quiet and clean and the water is shallow, flat and calm for much of the year, so children can play happily and safely. It’s only a short stroll from Baan Lotus, so older kids could even be left to amuse themselves by the sea while the adults lie by the pool. A lot of thought has clearly gone into the property’s interior design, which combines practical features with some interesting, artistic Asian decor. This gives the house plenty of character, in some ways even making it feel more up-market than it actually is. But despite these touches of style, you never feel uncomfortable wandering around in your swimming gear or putting your feet up on the sofa. All the bedrooms are very comfortable and nicely furnished, particularly the upstairs master, which also has a pleasant balcony looking down over the garden and pool. The bathrooms are quite compact with no tubs to soak in, but large rain showers do the job well enough and there's plenty of storage space in the attached dressing areas.     

Despite a lack of spectacular sea views, Baan Lotus still offers a relaxing, seaside ambience with modern comforts and comprehensive service options that make your stay easy and enjoyable.
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Shiva Samui Resort - Baan Sarika

Shiva Samui Resort - Baan Sarika

Thailand » Koh Samui » Laem Set

 If you worry that staying in a gated community means dealing with intrusive neighbours and beating them to the sun beds in the morning, think again. As soon as you close the front door at Baan Sarika you're in a private, exclusive world and free to relax in your own space, surrounded by tropical extravagance. The decor may be a little magniloquent for a beach villa, but at least you never forget you're in Thailand and once you slip on your bathers and flop into the pool, you quickly get used to feeling like a royal guest.     

A team of staff take care of the entire estate, and as a guest at Baan Sarika you enjoy VIP treatment (although you can stipulate the amount of attention you receive!). Mealtimes are almost as much of a pleasure as the down time in between, most of which is easily spent doing very little in a horizontal pose.     

When you yearn for life's simple pleasures, you can wander along the quiet beach to watch the fishermen bring in their catch or just gaze over the calm waters to the small islands on the horizon. Although you share the beach with other guests and residents, this part of the island never feels crowded and local island life continues around you undisturbed. This is the kind of villa that inspires a long, satisfied sigh.
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