In the process of planning an inspection tour of Koh Samui, I needed to select three hotels – one each in Lamai, Bophut and Chaweng. I had a budget no other specifications. All I needed was for my accommodation to be in a location convenient for checking out the nearby town. So, I selected Manathai Koh Samui as the first one purely for its location and cost. That is exactly the story I told the staff there when they asked.
Had I known what the hotel would actually be like when I got there…I would have stayed there for the whole week because it quite easily blew any of the others right out of the water! Staying there was an absolute pleasure and, if you travelling to Lamai, it would be right at the top of my list of recommendations.
As stated, the only real criteria I had when selecting a hotel in Lamai was the room rate and the location. I wanted a reasonably comfortable stay, so I wanted to get as close to the maximum allowance for my budget, but the places right on Lamai Beach, in the heart of the town, were all well over. Manathai Koh Samui is a little to the north – basically the northernmost hotel on the beach.
For my purposes – needing to spend as much time as possible in the town itself for research – it wasn’t actually all that convenient. Lamar town centre would have been quite a lengthy walk away, which could have become very tiresome very quickly. Fortunately, the staff there were able to help me to arrange for a rental motorbike, with the added bonus that I was not obliged to give up my passport or driver’s license, which is a common (and completely illegal) practice with rental companies in Thailand. They also told me that they have a shuttle service which can take guests to locations around the island, but I did not avail myself of it.
While the hotel’s location may not be ideal for those wanting to spend most of their time in town, it is perfect for people looking for a resort holiday. It is a peaceful and quiet place, with all of the facilities you could ever hope in easy reach and transport available to take you further afield if needed.
The one and only downside is the fact that Route 4169 (the main ring road around the island) runs right through it. To be accurate, the main part of the hotel is on the inland side of the road while the beach club section – named Waterline – is over the road. Fortunately, there is a crossing guard and the road is quiet enough that, while this is an inconvenience, it isn’t a crippling one.
Manathai Koh Samui has four room classes, named in the typically baffling and largely meaningless manner that most hotels employ:
What exactly any of that entails is anybody’s guess. I can only tell you about the Deluxe Balcony Room because that’s the one I stayed in. To be precise, I was in Room 308, on the top floor of the main building. True to its name, it had a balcony, which overlooked the second swimming pool. What exactly was “deluxe” about it is difficult to say without a frame of reference.
Sorry, I got a bit carried away with that. I’ll discuss my gripe with hotel room naming conventions another time…
Silly name aside, the rooms at Manathai Koh Samui are fantastic. Quite spacious, at 32m², they have an old colonial style without just being outdated. The four-poster bed, the window shutters, varnished wood floors and classic buro-style desk are blended seamlessly with contemporary artworks, soft colours and a modern bathroom.
A good bathroom is a very important (and frequently overlooked) part of a good holiday and the one at Manathai Koh Samui has a very good hot shower with fantastic chilli and basil-flavoured shampoo and body wash. You wouldn’t expect ingredients usually intended for a tasty Thai dish would work well as cleaning products, but they really do!
The bed, too, is important and in need of detailed discussion. I do like mine super-soft, but the Thai convention is for rock-hard (there’s a dirty joke in there somewhere, I know it…). Manathai Koh Samui went for a good compromise, choosing mattresses which are on the maybe just on the harder side of the middle ground. The bedding is nice and soft, though, and perfect for keeping you warm and cosy in the surprisingly efficient air-conditioning.
The room also has all of the other widely anticipated modern conveniences, including a mini bar, safe, spacious wardrobe, bathrobes and slippers, tea and coffee-making gear, satellite TV, telephone, hair dryer, pretty good wi-fi internet (even if it does have the annoying kind of log-in where you have to re-enter the password each time you reconnect) and probably a few others that I’ve missed.
Unfortunately, I didn’t try most of the dining options available at Manathai Koh Samui – my work required that I eat out as much as possible. I did have the buffet breakfast, but I can only list the rest as I am not in a position to comment on their quality.
The breakfast is served in the restaurant named Colours. Calling it a restaurant is a bit of a misnomer since it only serves the breakfast from 6:30am to 10:30am. However, it is a pretty good breakfast, with various fruits, breads, cereals and drinks as well as a good but modest selection of cooked choices. You can have a Thai dish, though it is not really what I would consider an actual Thai breakfast, which is usually rice soup, from what I’ve experienced.
I went for the English breakfast (or as close I could get to it) and, while the chicken sausages were a bit disappointing and the bacon was American-style instead of British (or what Americans call “Canadian bacon”), it certainly wasn’t bad. The highlight was the egg station, where a pair of chefs were ready, willing and very able to prepare whatever style you fancied. They did some of the finest fried (sunny) eggs that I’ve had in a while and I saw them doing other styles perfectly well, too. I finished up my breakfast with some cereal, which was a little chewy because of being sat out in the humid air all morning, but it was otherwise a very good breakfast.
The other choices include:
- Pad Thai – an Thai restaurant for evening meals.
- Coffee World – a large chain café which is located on the hotel grounds.
- Mulligans Irish Bar – the obligatory Irish theme bar.
- Waterline – a poolside cocktail and snack bar.
Room service is also available.
One word: “OUTSTANDING”! I was made very welcome from the moment I was helped out of the taxi to the moment the hotel taxi took me to my next port of call. Particularly worthy of mention were Natalie Kamolwattanasoontorn (the Australian woman who, despite appearing to be just a Customer Relations Manager, turns out to be the hotel’s General Manager!) and Namtam, the supremely helpful and friendly receptionist who quickly and ably dealt with any question, difficulty and request I had, including arranging for a rental motorbike and getting a taxi to take me to my next destination.
Everyone at the hotel did their utmost to make me feel welcome, from the cheerful greetings of the cleaners to the helpful road-crossing guard to the pleasant wait staff and skilled chefs at Colours. They were all immaculately turned out and extremely professional. I was also quite impressed with how efficient the room cleaning service was. It seemed to take no time at all, yet the room was scrupulously clean.
There is a little stretch of very quiet beach past the second of the two pools, with sun loungers both around said pool and in the shade of the beachside palm trees. This pool is particularly popular, so you a poolside sun lounger is out of the question if you show up after lunch. However, the beachside ones are just as nice and you can still enjoy the easy-listening chill-out tunes from there. You probably could take the lounger down onto the beach itself, there there’s about a two-foot drop between the two, so getting it back up again would be a challenge. The beach itself has nice soft sand, but the sea takes a long time to get deep and there are a lot of pointy stones in there. There is also a little island on the left, with a wooden bridge across to it. It seems to be one wall of a small sheltered harbour for local fishing boats. It is a pleasantly secluded place, if you want to be well away from the rest of the world.
The second pool is in the middle of the hotel, making it very shaded and, theoretically, not that private since it is overlooked by most of the 102 Balcony Deluxe Rooms. On the other hand, it is extremely quiet – I never saw more than a handful of people there at any one time.
There are a couple of small local restaurants within easy reach of the hotel, but no notable eateries, nightlife or attractions. The hotel is in Lamai, though, which doesn’t have that much in the way of high-end dining, nightlife or attractions anyway.
While Manathai Koh Samui was actually a little too isolated for my purposes, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay there. The unrelenting friendliness of the staff was a major contributing factor while the charming and – most importantly – comfortable rooms made it a pleasure to stay in. Not being on a “holiday”, as such, I was unable to fully explore and enjoy the facilities, but I did spend a very pleasant afternoon by the beach. It is a highly-recommendable resort if you are looking for peace and quiet. From what I saw, it particularly attracted families and people in their late-30s or older, for which I consider it well suited. However, despite the fact that I am neither of those, I still had a very pleasant stay.
Manathai Koh Samui
173/41 Moo 4
Rob Koh Road
Maret / Koh Samui
Tel: +66 7 745 8560-4
Fax: +66 7 745 8555
GPS: 9°28’23.1″N 100°03’23.9″E
Recommend: Enjoying the great colonial-style rooms and super service.
Avoid: Getting run over while crossing the road to the pool.
I booked a two-night (including breakfasts) stay at Manathai Koh Samui in January 2016 through Expedia.co.uk, with my flights included in the booking. I mentioned quite early on, in the course of conversation, that I am employed in the travel industry, which may or may not have altered the staff’s behaviour towards me. However, I was not contracted to review the hotel and I received no special discounts, benefits or payment during my stay or as a result of staying there. This review was not written at the request of the hotel or any other business.