With broad beaches bookended by temple-topped rocky outcrops, Hua Hin has been a playground for Thai hi-so (local slang for high society) since members of the royal family built their summer palaces there in the 1920s. Over the century that followed, well-heeled Bangkok residents snapped up beach villas and luxury condominiums, turning this getaway — just three hours south of the capital — into Thailand’s version of the Hamptons. And, as in the Hamptons, cool young people tended to steer clear.
That began changing in 2020, when a new crowd of hoteliers, chefs, surfers, and coffee enthusiasts started setting up shop along its shores. Perhaps the biggest sign that Hua Hin has found a new audience is the fact that the Standard hotel group chose to open its first Thai outpost there, even before Bangkok, where a second hotel arrived a few months later. The Standard, Hua Hin, which debuted last December, channels the brand’s Hollywood roots with midcentury modern architecture and quirky Thai trimmings, like vintage train station benches in the lobby. The 171 rooms and suites are cozy, with sunshine-yellow furnishings and small balconies, but the 28 villas are where the parties at most come with private pools and Instagram-ready disco balls in the terrazzo-tiled bathrooms.
Have a look
Around the pool, stylish creatives sip pineapple Negronis under candy-striped umbrellas. The food is just as fun: I ordered tom yum ramen and tuna larb at Praça, a self-described “Thai izakaya” right on the beach, then headed next door for burrata with tomato sherbert at the Italian-inspired Lido.
Still, the Standard’s not the only new kid on the block. A five-minute drive south is its more low-key sister property, the Peri Hotel Hua Hin, one of two new Thai boutiques within the Standard portfolio (the second Peri is in Khao Yai National Park.)
The 47-room Peri resort in Hua Hin opened at the end of 2020 and has a ’60s surf lodge vibe, with wicker furnishings, beanbags around the pool, and Thai tiki drinks made with Mekhong rum. Its seafood-focused restaurant, Chow Mong, serves excellent clay-pot crab congee and tom yum steamboats with clams, squid, and sea bass.
I continued my Hua Hin food crawl at Som’s Table, a humble bistro in an 80-year-old villa on the quiet end of Khao Tao Beach. When the pandemic forced her to close her thriving Bangkok restaurant, chef Jutamas “Som” Theantae needed a change. So she moved to Hua Hin, close to where she was born, to open Som’s Table. She serves unfussy European comfort food meant for sharing, with herbs from the patio garden and natural wines. The menu changes daily, but if it’s available, order the knockout bean stew with barracuda, prawns, and ratatouille.
When it was time to hit the beach, I discovered I could go lively or relaxed. With a marble-tiled pool, white daybeds, and gold accents, Sundance Dayclub is a scenic spot that wouldn’t look out of place on the ritzier side of Miami. Bite-size snacks, like fresh oysters and beef sliders, are served at the swim-up pool bar. At the adjoining restaurant, Sunrise, I had a heartier meal of crab curry, papaya salad, and steak with spicy jim jaew sauce. On weekends, the mirrored solarium at the heart of the club opens for high tea with Champagne.
For a quieter afternoon, I headed to Pineapple Surf Club, on Khao Takiab Beach. There I found paddleboards for rent (and instructors on call), as well as yoga classes in the garden. That said, the sun loungers offer serious do-nothing appeal — I ordered a watermelon smoothie and a banana-topped açaí bowl, served in a coconut shell, and buried my toes in the sand.
This story first appeared on www.travelandleisure.com
(Main and Feature Image Credit: Chris Schalkx)