Approximately 3 hours by both train and car from Bangkok lies Thailand’s original beach resort of Hua Hin. A mix of city and beach, relaxation and fun and with every luxury hotel brand in town, move over Phuket as Hua Hin has it all and more!
Hua Hin dates back to the 1920’s when King Rama VI and King Rama VII built summer houses in the area to escape the soaring Bangkok temperatures. One of the first hotels in Hua Hin in 1923 was the Railway Hotel which was created to service the boom in visitors using the Kuala Lumpur – Bangkok train line.
Move forward 95 years and the Railway hotel is still here but now in the form of the Centara Grand Beach Resort and Villas, which is also Hua Hin’s number one hotel and also part of the leading hotel’s of the world group.
In November TLE spent a long weekend relaxing in the hotel and discovering what exactly makes it so popular with guests.
What to Expect
As you arrive and the guards pull back the gates to allow you to enter the hotel complex and you travel up the driveway you will feel like you are stepping back in time; reliving an era of great colonial opulence and certain that you are about to experience something special!
Get out of your car and a porter greets you and takes you up the marble stairs to the open air reception area, collects your luggage and you are checked into the hotel. Walking around the reception area you will be presented with a magnificent view across the main gardens with a wing of each of the hotels leading your eyes down to the pristine beach at the end. Traditional Thai music is played on khim (stringed instrument) and fills the reception area with soothing sounds.
Our room was large with two queen beds, a solid wood dresser which housed the minibar, there was also a writing desk and reading area. The bathroom was split into two rooms, with a dressing room and walk in wardrobe as well as separate bath (I am informed that all rooms have a bath, important for us Brits abroad I know) and shower all finished off in marble… very lush.
Rooms are decorated with period 1920’s finishes and have marble floors, a large balcony, high ceilings, wifi and all the usual modern conveniences you would expect – there is also a nightly turning down service.
Located in a separate area of the hotel complex with its own check in, pool and restaurant are the 42 beach villas. Each villa offers complete privacy and are decorated in subtle tones of blue, beige and green and are finished with soft natural fabrics exactly what any villa right next to the beach should look like.
Villas are perfect for honeymooners and couples as they just take two people and you don’t feel like you are in a resort. I loved the hidden jaccuzzi in the back of the one villa I saw, and the view from the front steps out to sea was just sublime.
The Rest of the Hotel
The hotel ‘complex’ is large and split into various areas, the main bar the Elephant bar is off the entrance foyer to the right and is excellent for a night cap after your meal. More about this bar in the food section…
The hotel has 4 pools one for each of the wings of the room wings and the villas have their own private pool too. I didn’t actually get into a pool when I was there so can’t vouch for the water temperature, but they looked very relaxing and this one below with a view out to the sea is simply stunning.
One of my favourite things to do any time I am at a beach in Thailand is to have a drink and watch the sun go down and the hotel has a beach bar called Palm Terrace (below) which is just perfect for an evening tipple. There is a daily happy hour in the hotel from 5-7 to make things even sweeter!
If you like a good massage and Thailand certainly know a thing or two about them you will be pleased to know the hotel spa is no let down. Called SPA Cenvaree this nine suite spa offers everything from a traditional Thai massage right through to Ayurvedic treatments. I was lucky enough to try the spa and I had a massage which left me relaxed from head to toe when I had finished definitely worth booking into when you go!
The hotel also has a gym, which I didn’t get to, but there is no surprise there…. There is also a kids club, so the hotel is not just for couples. The kids club is free of charge and there is also a Saturday nanny service so if you need some ‘us time’ there is someone to look after the kids.
Eating and Drinking
Eating and drinking is probably what most people come to the hotel for and with 4 restaurants and 2 bars there is an extensive choice.
We ate in the Railway restaurant for dinner and for breakfast. Situated on the right hand side of the gardens when you go out of the back of the main foyer. The restaurant has an indoor section and also an outdoor terrace, we chose the terrace which is a beautiful setting at night. In the evening at the weekends there is a saxophone player and for breakfast there was a harpist, what a way to start the day off!
The restaurant is a buffet – but this is not any old buffet, the quality of the food is incredible, (which you can see from the pictures I took). Focusing more on seafood and meat – they rotate their offerings and have 4 different types of buffet evening per week.
The night we were there was seafood, with the food displayed on beautifully carved ice tables. Being an annoying vegetarian 😉 the restaurant did give me an a la carte offering and I ate some of the amazing cheeses and salads they had in the buffet too.
If you have a sweet tooth you are in the right hotel as they have their own pastry department who produce all the cakes and desserts daily. You will NOT be disappointed by the range.
We had afternoon tea in the Railway Hotel Museum. This was formerly the entrance to the hotel before the new extension and has been converted into an afternoon tea shop complete with displays of trinkets from the original hotel and railway back in its hayday. Afternoon tea is buffet style with 4 afternoon tea stands packed with sandwiches, cakes, macaroons and just about every sweet treat you can think of, I felt like Charlie in Wonka’s Chocolate factory and put on about a stone just looking at the food on offer.
I loved the ice cream stand that was made out of a solid block of ice and the macaroons were simply incredible!
Palm Seafood Pavilion
For lunch the Palm Seafood Pavilion is the goto spot, with views out to sea, great seafood, service and views await you.
I have always been in love with the 1920’s and in the Elephant Bar I felt for a brief moment in time like I was in an Agatha Christie novel. We tried the house classic cocktails and relaxed to the the live jazz band in the bar.
If you want to stay at this hotel the average nightly price is around £300 per night, which includes breakfast.
Would I Recommend It
I would highly recommend this hotel, I loved my stay there and not only is the location perfect; being right in the centre of Hua Hin, but you also feel like you are a million miles away from everything the minute you step onto the grounds so you can completely relax and leave all your problems behind you for a few days.
The service is superb right the way through your whole hotel experience – remember Thailand is the land of smiles and Centara have this down to a fine art.
One of the advantages of staying in Hua Hin is that it is very accessible from Bangkok – with most beach resorts in Thailand you need to take an internal flight to get there from Bangkok.
The hotel can arrange to pick you up at Suvarnabhumi airport by limousine and drive you to Hua Hin. They also offer packages where you can arrive at Bangkok, stay in the Centara Grand at Central World and get over your jetlag and then move on down to Hua Hin after that.
The other good thing about Hua Hin is the weather – resorts in the south can be more prone to rain in the wet season but Hua Hin often bypasses these weather conditions meaning you have more chance of dry weather.
Address: 1 Damnernkasem Road, Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan 77110, Thailand
Tel: +66 32 512 021