The last few weeks have been quite tiring for me, with one thing and another. My Project52 has slipped to the point of being effectively abandoned, an intensive workout and diet programme has left me with increasingly little time to relax and work has been particularly trying recently. As a result, when I was approached by a friend with the opportunity for a little staycation in Phuket in order to review a hotel, I was very happy to oblige.
It is, sadly, the middle of the rainy season. In fact, September is the wettest month of the year for Phuket and climate change appears to have had little impact on that statistic, except possibly making it wetter. However, I always find that reviewing a place under the worst possible conditions is the best way to get an accurate impression of it. If it had been a beautiful sunny day, I would essentially be reviewing Phuket’s nice weather. As it was a wet day, I was forced to stay inside, giving me a far more in-depth look at what Nook-Dee Boutique Resort is really like. Spoiler: it’s fantastic!
There is a wonderful stretch of road along Phuket’s east coast, rising from the junction where Kata Beach meets Kata Noi Beach. The road climbs up the hill and skirts along the side of the hills behind the latter beach before continuing towards Ya Nui Beach and on to Promthep Cape – the southernmost point in Phuket. It is probably the most beautiful road on the island because the view is outstanding. Naturally, a number of bars and small restaurants have taken advantage of this. So, too, has Nook-Dee Boutique Resort. The view of Kata Noi Beach is spectacular, particularly from the reception, pool, restaurant and the rooftop terrace.
Naturally, there is a slight downside to this setting. If you like the beach, getting down there is a long walk and getting back again is very challenging because of the steep incline. Fortunately, the hotel offers a shuttle bus service to save your legs. Running at regular scheduled intervals throughout the day, it is free for guests. I’m not much of a beach kind of person but, if I was, Kata Noi would absolutely be my first choice because it is one of the quietest and most peaceful on the island, as well as having some of the softest sand. There are also plenty of beachfront restaurants to try. Kata Beach is close by and it is considered one of the best surfing beaches in Phuket.
The hotel is well-placed for being both peacefully isolated without it being an arduous trek to get to outside restaurants, bars and attractions. Public transport is rather limited as the aforementioned beautiful road is quite a quiet one, but the reception staff can help arrange something for you. The hillside restaurants are literally at the end of the entrance road (about a 300 m walk) while the bars are about another 300 m further along a relatively flat road – far enough not to disturb your sleep while being close enough for them to be no challenge to reach.
I did not avail myself of the nearby attractions. Admittedly, this was because I was primarily there to review the place, so I could hardly go wandering off to inspect the nearby business. The rain was also a factor, but so too was the simple fact that the room was really comfortable. My expectations, as always, were relatively modest. It isn’t that Phuket’s hospitality industry does not feature some really outstanding properties, but my blog’s relative youth means that I don’t expect to get the chance to stay in luxury accommodation just yet. Additionally, I’m the sort of traveller who is happy sleeping on the floor, if necessary. As a result, getting a stunning villa to myself was almost overwhelming!
Nook-Dee Boutique Hotel has six room classes, which are named in the standard baffling hotel jargon which continues to be essentially meaningless (though I shall attempt to avoid a rant on the subject this time):
- Superior Room
- Deluxe Seaview Room
- Deluxe Panorama Room
- Deluxe Panorama Corner Room
- Deluxe Jacuzzi Room
- Honeymoon Villa
It is my strict editorial policy to only report on that which I have personally experienced, so I am obliged to only discuss the Nook-Dee Boutique Resort’s Honeymoon Villa. Put simply, it is amazing! It has its own 125 sq m private garden behind an ornate gate, with a palm-thatch sala for a modest jacuzzi pool. The villa’s roof forms a 97 sq m private terrace with an impressive sea view. The 79 sq m interior has an elegant modern style, with an outdoor kitchen containing a large fridge-freezer, a smaller refrigerator inside containing a mini bar, a four-seat dining/living room with comfortable sofa and widescreen TV, an equally large TV in the bedroom and the biggest bathroom I think I have ever seen.
The receptionist showing me around said that the villa can accommodate up to four people which, based on the places at the dining table and on the large sofa, makes sense. There is only one bed, however and, while it is a large and extremely soft and comfortable one – with feather mattress and pillows (and, for reasons unknown, a large stuffed elephant) – I doubt it could sleep four people. Still, it would be nice for entertaining guests who are staying elsewhere in the hotel and, with a second bathroom by the entrance, you wouldn’t even need to have people walking through the bedroom.
The main bathroom deserves special mention. I really love baths. However, being about 193 cm (6’4″) in height, it is extremely rare that I can find one in which I can properly relax. I was almost pathetically happy to find such a tub at Nook-Dee Boutique Resort. I was a little disappointed to find that, among the otherwise excellent complimentary toiletries, they had failed to provide any bubble bath. This did not prevent me from merrily lounging in a nice hot bath for over an hour before slipping on one of the lovely silk bathrobes. No less than two rainfall showers were also available in the villa.
There are only two criticisms I have of the place. The first is an odd choice of layout in the living room. Maybe it is a legacy of my parents’ generation, but I normally expect the sofa to be directly opposite the TV to ensure the best view. Instead, it is off to one side while the dining table has pride of place, meaning that the view of the TV is almost parallel to the screen, in some cases. I don’t watch much TV, so this wasn’t a problem for me. The greater issue was the fact that, being further down the hill from a good amount of the hotel’s rooms and the restaurant, an awful lot of balconies look directly down into the otherwise private garden and terrace, including right into the jacuzzi pool. There are curtains around the sala, but it still feels kind of exposed.
The Nook-Dee Boutique Resort restaurant follows the naming convention of the rest of the hotel. Nook-Dee roughly translates as “good time” or “enjoyable”. The restaurant’s name is Roy Dee, which means “tastes good” (though “a’roi” is the more common expression). It is almost a disappointment to find that the spa is just called “Spa”. Either way, all of the above are true to their name.
Roy Dee Restaurant serves a modest selection of Thai and western dishes. While the menu is short, I have always preferred places which do a small selection of dishes well, rather than having an encyclopaedic menu of dishes prepared badly and using second-rate ingredients. Roy Dee’s ingredients are very definitely first-rate.
I decided to completely ruin my diet, but also sample both aspects of the menu, going for a western starter of cream of tomato soup with tarragon and gin (190 baht) followed by Moo Balow – slow-cooked stew with pork belly, boiled eggs, five-spice and fresh tofu (150 baht). I also had the BB smoothie, containing mixed berries, banana, pineapple milk, yoghurt and wild honey (130 baht).
It was a little odd to pay more for a bowl of soup than for a main meal, but that just speaks of Nook-Dee Boutique Resort’s genuine determination to pass savings on to their guests. Imported ingredients are more expensive because of Thailand’s high import taxes. However, locally-sourced ingredients are very cheap because of the country’s largely agricultural economy. As a result, ensuring high quality across the menu inevitably means that the western menu is slightly pricier than the Thai choices. This use of high-quality ingredients really tells in the flavours and textures of the dishes. All of the above tasted sublime and the meat of the belly pork was extremely tender and juicy.
The restaurant also serves a buffet breakfast, which I sadly did not get a chance to sample – mostly because my body refused to allow me out of the ludicrously comfortable bed. It looked quite impressive, though.
The staff throughout Nook-Dee Boutique Resort were excellent, though particularly the reception staff. Even the car park attendants were doing their utmost to be helpful and obliging! My needs are generally quite simple, but they were immediately met with a friendly smile and with the offer of additional services.
As I said, the reception staff deserve special mention, not least because I managed to lock myself out of the villa within about five minutes of arriving. I’d set off to go and take some photographs around the hotel and abruptly realised that I’d left the keycard inside! They quickly issued me with a fresh one without quibble and without laughing at my foolishness, which is impressive, because even I thought it was hilarious. They also came all the way down to the villa to return my passport when I accidentally left it at reception, rather than calling for me to come and collect it. It’s a simple gesture, but indicative of an attitude whereby the staff are willing to put themselves to inconvenience so that you don’t have to.
While Nook-Dee Boutique Hotel is a fairly compact place, it is not lacking in facilities. The pool is impressively large, with a great view from one end, a sun deck at the other, a submerged bench in the middle and a bar close by. I didn’t actually explore them (I was too busy enjoying my bath), but there is also the aforementioned Spa, a modern fitness room and meeting facilities. The reception area has a tours desk and a little souvenir shop.
The rooftop terrace is definitely worth a visit, and I’m surprised that the hotel doesn’t make greater use of it. The view up there is excellent, particularly around sunset. It is all covered with artificial grass and would be a great place to relax in the sun. However, I suppose that the long distance from the bar and the noise of the air conditioners do make it a little inconvenient and the view is nearly as good from the pool (except that you can’t see Kata from there, but you’re not missing much).
Nook-Dee Boutique Resort is a great for a stay during the rainy season and I have absolutely no doubt that it would be just as good in high season, too. It takes full advantage of the unrivalled location, providing a comprehensive range of facilities so that you can have a fantastic holiday without ever leaving the hotel or its immediate surroundings. While it is far from the only hotel to enjoy a fairly isolated location (only “fairly” because there is another hotel directly adjacent to it), it is one of few with such a good view, ensuring that isolation never gets dull. If you do choose to experience the outside world, it is easily reached and the staff are extremely willing to help you do so to the best of their abilities.
I said at the start of this that the true test of a good hotel is to review it under the worst possible conditions. A bad hotel would have made me stir crazy and desperate to check out, in spite of the rain, while a good hotel would have made me wish I could have extended my stay. If it wasn’t for the fact that I have to work for a living, I would still be there now.
Nook-Dee Boutique Resort
216/9 Koktanod Road
Karon / Mueang
Recommend: Great view from the rooftop terrace.
Avoid: Using the jacuzzi pool without closing the curtains.
I stayed at Nook-Dee Boutique Hotel for one night. My stay was arranged by a third party with a view to providing a review. The room therefore did not cost me anything and it is highly probable that the staff were well aware of who I was and why I was there. I did have to pay for my meal.
While this fact may have had an effect on the staff’s attitude and treatment of me, said third party is aware of my ethics policy and declined the offer to vet my review prior to publication. True to said policy, I have endeavoured to give as honest a review as possible.