A quaint seaside resort combining old world charm with global flair, set in a dreamy tropical garden abundant with native flora.
The beachside town of Hua Hin is situated in Prachuap Khiri Khan, just South West of Bangkok (a 3.5-hour drive) and accessible by both car and train, and has been the destination for world class resort The Standard since December 2021. The municipality became an established getaway for locals after the railway line was constructed in the 1920s, connecting the vibrant urban hub of the capital city with the previously sleepy town, and is even rumoured to be the preferred choice of Thai royalty. It’s no wonder that this stylish brand of hotel – with venues in NYC, London and Miami to name but a few – has chosen Hua Hin as the location for their first South East Asian outpost, while still paying homage to the original Miami design style.
We arrived in the comparatively chilled beach town and noticed the plethora of many giant resorts, often indistinguishable from one to the other, so the allure and originality of The Standard was a welcome breath of fresh air. The main lobby is breezy and dominated by dense foliage, leading out to a lush tropical space with quirky ‘down-the-rabbit-hole’ elements and bright yellow signage, guiding guests through the maze to the rooms, situated in a multi-level block reminiscent of Palm Springs apartments. If you want to stop for healthy snacks, there’s also a juice bar selling smoothies, coffees, sandwiches and snacks. The look and feel is the total opposite of what you’d expect from a traditional Thai establishment with bamboo or rattan furniture, with The Standard’s bright, contemporary and artful panache.
On entering our room, the bright and breezy aesthetic continues with the sunny yellow accents on the bedding, sofa and balcony chairs, combined with snowy white walls and bohemian pine furniture. A very nice touch were the welcome snacks and fresh coconuts, and the staff had even made me a hand-written welcome note printed with pictures they’d taken from my social media, which made me feel warmly embraced. After enjoying the complimentary toiletries and a refreshing shower we meandered down to the beach through bamboo and overhanging bougainvillaea, where the action is clustered around the pool and dining outlets. Even at night time the glistening waters of the sprawling pool are a sight to behold in the moonlight, and you can expect plenty of Thai’s elite society vacay-ing on a city break from Bangkok catching the perfect social media photo under the giant striped umbrellas in the day as well as the night.
To the left of the pool are two excellent restaurants: the first being the Italian-inspired Lido which offers all day dining and is the stylish setting for breakfast, as well as the fancy and intimate Praça, with an enviable beachfront location and secluded candlelit dining. Perfectly delivering the best of Thai cuisine and flavours, we dined on the “Thai Izakaya,” which was a delicious sharing menu, where the smiling staff kept bringing dish after dish! These included some spicy krapow tacos, a steaming Pad Thai, and deep fried. The food is enhanced by their diverse authentic Thai cocktail menu that utilises local ingredients such as coconut milk, guava and makrut lime. On the way back from dinner we took a closer look at the enclaves with the plush villas, each in its own cul-de-sac with outdoor dining tables and chill corners deep in the teeming foliage. The villas come in varying sizes and some with pools and adjoining housing, which would suit holidaying families or groups looking for a more inclusive and private experience.
The next morning it dawned bright and pleasantly sunny, and after a brief coffee on our sweet little balcony we headed to the lively buffet breakfast at Lido, accompanied by 1940s big band and show tunes. The international food offerings include a variety of bread, pasties, porridge, Asian options, and Western cooked breakfast with waffles and pancakes, and they serve a particularly strong coffee to get your day started with a caffeinated kick. The bread and pastries selection is impressive, and don’t miss the ‘treat’ station with custom cookies and cakes baked with The Standard logo and styling. At every turn, the hotel subtly showcases its chic demeanour without ever becoming intrusive or overly conspicuous. After breakfast we spent a lazy day at the Lido Bar, ordering San Pellegrino and Thai bites while bathing in the sun and azure waters. The pool area is genuinely magnificent, drawing inspiration from both Miami and Beverly Hills. Plump cushions and enormous striped umbrellas are arranged against the backdrop of an incredibly lush verdant garden, giving a plush and indulgent feel.
We also dined later at Lido, which becomes a lively Italian eatery post-breakfast and has some delightful fresh pizza and pastas – a particular favourite was the Buratta with Tomato Sorbet, a light and refreshing dish steeped in originality. The hotel exudes an intimate atmosphere, creating a sense of seclusion from the harsh realities of the outside world, which undoubtedly means that the ambiance contributes to the rest and rejuvenation experienced by its guests. You can expect to see people of all ages during your stay, though the presence of very young children doesn’t in any way mar the relaxing atmosphere.
Seemingly built into the tropical gardens is a small but decently-stocked gym, and cardio equipment and weights, plus complementary lemon water, and while we didn’t make it to the spa, we heard excellent things about the open-air mud lounge (where you’re slathered in skin-purifying muds made tasteful with delicately-scented oils) and mirrors the Miami hotel’s spa retreat. There’s also sound bowl healing and meditations for their holistic choices, but nothing more alarming than that for its unconventional treatments.
We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to The Standard Hua Hin, and recommend it to couples and families as well as groups looking for the stylish intimacy offered by the villas. We look forward to visiting both the Bangkok outlet and those in the USA.