Amanpuri is the original Aman hotel, having opened on the island of Phuket more than 30 years ago, when Phuket was nothing like the major tourist draw it is today.
Having been at the forefront of luxury resorts in Thailand and the first in a line of Aman hotels that now spans over 30 destinations worldwide, Amanpuri remains the flagship of the Aman brand and is still very much the place to stay on Phuket, perennially popular with jet setters and celebs alike.
The Packing Edit
Amanpuri more than lives up to its name, which means ‘place of peace’ in Sanskrit. While Phuket is positively teeming with tourists and activity, Amanpuri sits secluded from all the rest on a small headland jutting out into the Andaman Sea on the island’s stunning west coast. Set amidst an old coconut plantation, it’s a setting that exudes a serene natural beauty, from the swaying palm trees and tropical plants that creep up the cliff edge to the crescent of white sand and turquoise water beyond. Adding to the sense of the divine, the hotel takes its design cues from traditional Thai temple architecture, consisting of a series of wooden pavilions with tall, pitched, tiled roofs that blend seamlessly into the landscape. Inside the public spaces, dark natural woods and traditional Thai design are effortlessly matched with more contemporary modern minimalism, resulting in an understated beachfront luxury that’s quite unlike anything else.
The 40 guest rooms (or Pavilions as they’re called here) are spread out across a large area, with some up on the hill set back in lush tropical gardens and others perched on a cliff just barely above the sea – you’ll pay a bit more for the rooms with the premium views and locations, and some top-level pavilions even have private pools. Location aside, however, the rooms are near-enough identical in terms of size and design inside, so there’s little risk of room-envy whichever you go for. The Garden Pavilions are the most common room type and feature an outdoor sala lounge/dining area and sun beds on the terrace. Wooden sliding doors lead directly into the bedroom and lounge area, with supremely comfy king size bed, writing desk, bamboo armchairs, and a flat screen TV hidden beneath a sliding panel. A huge separate bathroom and dressing room area has double sinks, a rainforest shower, Aman’s own spa products, and a beautiful sunken bath right underneath a slatted window. Hidden beneath the almost luxe wooden treehouse feel, however, are all the modern bells and whistles you’d expect; an iPad is set up to control lighting, air con, the TV, and even order room service.
The Little Extras
Aman is a brand that’s built around little (and often quite big) extra touches. Service is faultless across the board, from the army of staff who will keep you topped up with water on the beach and adjust your sun umbrellas the very moment they spot the sun encroach on to your skin, to the concierge team that can arrange excursions, dinner reservations and activities; you won’t have to lift a finger at any point. Perhaps best of all though is the daily tea service set in a pavilion by the main pool, where you and pick up freshly griddled coconut pancakes, slices of sweet local mango, and a pot of jasmine tea.
The Food + Drink
Amanpuri has four restaurants to choose from, offering everything from refined Japanese to beachside Mediterranean. The pick of the bunch, though, is Buabok, the hotel’s signature Thai restaurant – book an early table outdoors for around 6PM and you’ll benefit from a front-row seat of a glorious sunset too. On the menu there’s classic, familiar Thai dishes such as pad thai and massaman curry as well as an exciting array of Southern specialities to discover. Don’t miss nahm prik goong siab, a fermented shrimp chilli dip withcrunchy local vegetables, or a wonderfully creamy southern yellow curry with fresh crab, as well as the whole locally caught whole fish baked in banana leaf with nahm jim seafood sauce.
Buabok is also the setting for breakfast, where western egg dishes (there’s even a classic Full English) and pastries are served alongside Thai flavours – we adored the Thai-style crab omelette. If you’re looking for something a bit healthier, there’s granola, fresh fruit, and a range of detox juices to get you going.
The To-Do List
At the top of a very short to-do list for many guests will simply be a succession of days spent lounging on the beautiful beach between dips in the warm crystal-clear ocean. It really is that enticing, and it can be hard to pull yourself away once you’ve plonked yourself down on one of the many sun loungers. There is of course a whole host of other things to get involved with if you do fancy, however, from taking a jet ski or electric surfboard out on to the water to taking a dip in one of the hotel’s two swimming pools. There’s also a world-class award-winning spa; a state-of-the-art hilltop gym with some incredible views; tennis courts; a gallery; a library; and a boutique store. Further afield, you can sign up for scuba diving trips, island excursions around the limestone cliffs of Phang Nga Bay (made famous by James Bond’s The Man With The Golden Gun), or simply cruise around on one of Amanpuri’s own fleet of luxury yachts, which are available for charter.
*DISCLAIMER: Travel restrictions are changing daily, so please check the latest government advice before you book anything. Visit Gov.uk for more information.