Where to stay in Phuket depends on the sort of experience you want and whether you want beach access, breathtaking views or a stunning swimming pool — or all of the above. This is our guide to the best beach resorts and boutique hotels on the southern Thailand island.

Beach resorts and boutique hotels line the coast and dot the Old Town of Phuket and there are a mind-boggling number of places to stay.

Browse Terence’s beautiful photo gallery, above, to see each of the stunning resorts we road-tested to see what I mean.

During our month in Phuket researching Phuket cuisine and street food we sampled more than a dozen beach resorts and boutique hotels on Thailand’s sprawling southern island. Below you’ll find our picks of where to stay in Phuket.

Where to Stay in Phuket — Beach Resorts and Boutique Hotels

Phuket is Thailand’s biggest island — 540 square kilometres in size, 21 kilometres wide and almost 48km in length — and it’s mountainous, so it’s not as if you can bounce from one side of the island to the other with ease and speed. You need to choose where to stay in Phuket very carefully.

While Phuket’s Old Town, also called Phuket Town, is where you’ll find the best food, culture, architecture, shopping, and nightlife — and we think it warrants a stay of at least a couple of nights — most people prefer to be by the beach and visit the town on a day trip or for dinner.

We, on the other hand, can easily spend a week eating our way through the Phuket Town’s markets, photographing the architecture, visiting museums and temples, and kicking back in the cafés and bars. The charmingly restored Memory at On On and lovely Casa Blanca are both centrally located for Old Town exploration.

Where to stay in Phuket on the beach depends upon whether you want access to the sand or whether you’re satisfied lapping up the spectacular sea views from the side of a swimming pool. Resorts such as Como Point Yamu, Paresa, Andara, and Kata Rocks have awe-inspiring ocean and island views, but are a short drive or sweaty walk to the beach. They make up for the journey with gorgeous swimming pools.

There are no views from the private pool villas and rooms at lovely Sala Phuket, but it’s an easy amble to one of Phuket’s cleanest beaches, and the bar, restaurant and pool all offer prime sunset-viewing spots.

Most of the accommodation at Iniala Beach House and Aleenta in Baan Natai, just over the bridge on the mainland north of Phuket Island, is within splashing distance of the sea — you can hear the waves crashing against the shore from the comfort of your bed — while also offering sublime sunset views.

Have I made your decision as to where to stay in Phuket easier or harder? If it’s the latter, better take a look at that photo gallery above again.

Where to Stay in Phuket — Our Picks

Iniala Beach House

If money is no object when it comes to where to stay in Phuket and you don’t necessarily need to be right on the island, then this stunning boutique property at Natai beach, Phang Nga, just over the bridge to the mainland offers a one-of-a-kind experience. While it’s not on island itself, the nearest airport is Phuket International, a short drive away. Opening with a bang in late 2013, Iniala Beach House consists of 10 idiosyncratically styled villas, each by a different designer and filled with Southeast Asian art. The property also has a gallery and dedicated art curator. Iniala’s restaurant Aziamendi, the first foreign outpost of Chef Eneko Atxa of Azurmendi near Bilbao, serves three sublime tasting menus, one an homage to the Basque restaurant, another inspired by Thai cuisine and local produce. Iniala Beach House is expensive, however, it’s all-inclusive, including butler, driver, spa therapist, treatments, activities, picnics, barbecues, and meals at Aziamendi. All profits from Iniala go to the Inspirasia Foundation to support health and education projects in Thailand, Indonesia and India.

Book Iniala Beach House online with our booking partner Booking.com.

Aleenta

Just down the road from Iniala, sleek, low-rise, whitewashed Aleenta is one of our favourite boutique resorts in Thailand. We first stayed when we updated the DK Thailand guidebook many years ago and have checked in twice in recent years, trying several types of accommodation, from the Pool Villas to the two-bedroom Pool Residences (our pick). The resort is set on a picturesque part of Natai Beach and the infinity pool, lounge bar, and Beachfront Suites all take advantage of the spectacular ocean vistas. The Edge restaurant, ran by chef Alex Bitterling is superb, serving creative, contemporary Thai-inspired cuisine. Aleenta Phuket, like its sister property near Hua Hin, is an eco-friendly resort, supporting the Pure Blue Foundation focused on marine conservation and a turtle sanctuary.

Book Aleenta Resort And Spa, Phuket online with our booking partner Booking.com.

Point Yamu by COMO

If your requirement as to where to stay in Phuket calls for a combination of fantastic food, views, style, and a swimming pool, then this is your hotel. On Cape Yamu on Phuket’s east coast, overlooking Phang Nga Bay, Point Yamu by COMO is spread across a striking concrete shell and 27 pool villas skirting the main complex. Opened in April 2014, the resort boasts an endearingly playful design by Italian Paola Navone, inspired by Thai culture and Buddhism. A whimsical lobby display features pagoda bells, kitschy garden statues and tin monk’s bowls filled with flowers, while traditional artisanal techniques abound, such as woven rattan, stencilled antique tiles, and wooden roof tiling on feature walls. A 100-metre swimming pool (above) with gob-smacking bay views makes up for the lack of beach access, and a COMO Shambhala Spa offers signature treatments. A highlight is the food overseen by Australian chef Daniel Moran – Italian-focused Mediterranean cuisine at La Sirena and a light take on southern Thai at Nahmyaa. An array of activities includes complimentary 15-minute transfers to Rang Yai Island, longtail boat rides to Naga Noi, and cruises to Ko Phi Phi, James Bond Island and the Similians.

Book Point Yamu by COMO online with our booking partner Booking.com.

Anantara Phuket Layan

Anantara’s newest Phuket resort is set on a secluded bay with a private sandy beach (rare in Thailand), on the mid-northwest coast. The property has all the signature elements of the brand’s style, from airy pavilions for public spaces and quintessentially Thai-style tiled roofs to polished timber floors, silk soft-furnishings, and orchid-filled vases. Here you have a choice of 30 rooms and suites with Andaman Sea vistas or 47 spacious villas without views but boasting private pools. We tried the latter and it was lovely, but I preferred to swim in the larger beachside pool so I’d probably opt for a room with a view if I stayed again. The Thai food at the beautifully designed Dee Plee restaurant was outstanding, and the Spice Spoons cooking class and market tour were excellent. All day dining restaurant, Sala Layan, was also terrific. The resorts offers a range of water sports, as well as Muay Thai kick boxing classes.

Book Anantara Layan Phuket Resort online with our booking partner Booking.com.

Sala Phuket

Slap-bang on beautiful Mai Khao Beach, Phuket’s longest and cleanest beach, which is protected as part of the north-western Sirinat National Park, lovely low-rise Sala Phuket is one of the island’s most laidback resorts. Thanks to a well-planned layout with the reception on one side of the resort, the alfresco restaurant, lounge bar and pool on the other, and private pool villas hidden behind high walls in between, the property feels very intimate and exclusive. There are 79 stylish villas and suites, but it feels as if there’s half the amount. The sprawling lawns also allow sunbathers to spread out, so it’s only at meal times and when guests make a beeline for the lounge-beds to savour the sunset that you realise there are others staying. The international and Thai dishes on the menu are all excellent – everything from quesadillas to Phuket specialty khanom jeen (cold noodles, coconut curry, crispy vegetables and condiments). This is where to stay in Phuket if your priorities are privacy and tranquility – along with great food and a good beach.

Book Sala Phuket online with our booking partner Booking.com.

Trisara

Located on a headland on the mid northwest coast and set in lush tropical palm-filled gardens, luxurious Trisara is one of Phuket’s most exclusive resorts – except on weekends, when expats and locals linger over a sumptuous Sunday seafood-driven champagne brunch. We highly recommend it. The 48 lavish pool villas and residences, perched above the sea, are enormous, boasting spacious decks, serene infinity pools, and panoramic ocean vistas. While it’s tempting to enjoy sundowners from your villa, venture down to the bar for the fabulous cocktails. The Thai food was fantastic and cooking class excellent. Service at the seaside restaurant was slow and the food a tad disappointing the night we dined, but the lazy Sunday brunch and a private barbecue dinner on the deck of our villa more than made up for it.

Book Trisara online with our booking partner Booking.com.

The Surin

One of the most idyllically situated resorts on Phuket, set amidst coconut palm groves, The Surin spills down a luxuriant hillside, overlooking a drop-dead gorgeous beach. Designed by renowned Paris-based architect Ed Tuttle, who recently rejuvenated the property, the hard and heavy lines of the lofty main building that houses the reception and restaurants is at odds with the casual charm of the light-filled cottages that cascade down the slope and sit on the edge of the sand. But once you’re settled into your spacious cottage, sprawled out on a towel on the sand, or sipping a sundowner as you watch the sunset from your own veranda, you won’t really care. There’s a stunning swimming pool, two restaurants serving terrific Thai food and the beach is ideal for early morning or late afternoon walks and it gets swell large enough for a surf, if not some boogie boarding. While it’s not far to walk into the town of Surin, once you’re ensconced in your cottage you probably won’t leave, so take supplies and lots to read.

Book The Surin Phuket online with our booking partner Booking.com.

Paresa

Paresa is perched on a headland on Phuket’s mid-west coast, offering some of the most jaw-dropping sea views on the island, best appreciated from the infinity pool or deck of the restaurant. The spacious, comfortable villas and suites are quintessentially Thai-resort style with terraces and plunge pools. Not all offer the panoramic views of the public spaces, so confirm this is what you want ahead if it’s important. The food is notable from both the Thai and European menus, each of which is offered in the same restaurant that’s loosely divided into two. But the culinary highlight for most is the special ‘Infinity Experience’ for couples, offered at low tables set over sun-beds that protrude into the infinity pool. Very romantic. The menu features indulgent dishes such as Australian grain fed Angus beef with seared foie gras, but that’s the kind of experience it is. There’s an excellent cooking class with market walk that we also highly recommend. If you want a dip in the sea the Paresa offers transfers to its beach club nearby at Kamala.

Book Paresa Resort Phuket online with our booking partner Booking.com.

Andara

The palm-fringed Olympic-sized swimming pool and Kamala Beach vistas would have been enough to entice me to Andara if I hadn’t have known about the enormous apartments with their brilliant kitchens and spacious entertaining areas. Like a lot of the properties we chose to stay at for our research, the Andara not only has a very good Thai restaurant that serves dishes from Phuket, they also offer cooking classes and in-villa dining prepared by their chefs. We requested a combination of the experiences, so got to observe two lovely local cooks prepare our dinner in our kitchen, and pick their brains about Phuket cuisine in the process. The suites and apartments are decorated with Jim Thompson silk textiles and fitted out with Bose sound systems and the like. Of all the places where to stay in Phuket that we road-tested, this is the one we’d recommend for discerning travellers who want to settle in for a while.

Book Andara Resort online with our booking partner Booking.com.

Kata Rocks

This exclusive property cascades down a steep hill on the rocky peninsula at the end of busy Kata Beach, ensuring complete privacy. The white, light-filled, two-storey villas and lofts boast a futuristic design inspired by the shape of the super yachts, which drop anchor in the bay. The sleek minimalist interiors have state-of-the-art kitchens set up for entertaining, with every conceivable appliance and utensil you could think of – a passionate cook or chef would be very happy holidaying here. There’s a fully stocked fridge and wine cellar, and outside there is a huge lounge and private plunge pool. If you don’t want to stay in, you don’t have to go far. There’s also a fine poolside restaurant and bar serving light, elegantly presented Thai and international food overseen by Aussie chef Steve Baker. The only downside is Kata Beach and the town itself. If you really want to dine out, you’re best making the trek into Phuket Town. This is where to stay in Phuket if your goal is ultimate relaxation and you don’t plan on straying far from your accommodation.

Book Kata Rocks online with our booking partner Booking.com.

The Boathouse

Unlike Kata Rocks, which is on a hill on the edge of town, The Boathouse is slap-bang in the centre. Whether this is a good or bad thing really depends on what you think of Kata Beach and the town. We’re not fans of the area, but The Boathouse is loaded with old-fashioned appeal, from the property itself, which in some ways felt like a generations-old, family-owned, holiday town hotel to the hands-on attention of the general manager who made an effort to make every guest feel at home. The pick of the rooms is the Beachfront Suite (above), which is super-spacious and looks out onto the sand – so close that you can hear the sounds of the waves crashing against the shore and smell the salty sea air. Their daily Sunset Bubbles and Nibbles is a must, in the library overlooking the ocean, and Saturday Night Jazz is popular with expats. Dinner at the restaurant can be hit and miss when it comes to the Western food, especially the steaks. Stick to the Thai cuisine and you’ll eat exceedingly well.

Book The Boathouse online with our booking partner Booking.com.

Casa Blanca

If food factors highly in your decision as to where to stay in Phuket then you want to be in Phuket Town and this comfortable boutique hotel is a fantastic choice. The effusive, well-travelled, English-speaking Thai owner of this rather grand whitewashed hotel, with a distinctly feminine sensibility – pastel colours, pretty furnishings, fresh flowers – is a passionate baker and foodie. She also owns a delightful café nearby selling the baked goods she makes herself. Something of a foodie, she and her staff are keen to share restaurant tips, taking care to make reservations and mark spots on maps. They are equally eager to hear how you enjoyed their recommendations the next morning – as they scrawl breakfast suggestions on your map. The whitewashed hotel, in a faux-colonial style, has comfy rooms with balconies with ornate wrought iron railing. Skip the 25 square metre Superior rooms in favour of the more spacious Deluxe rooms or Family Suite. The central location is handy for shopping, dining and drinking, with fantastic boutiques, galleries, restaurants, and bars close by.

Book Casa Blanca Boutique Hotel online with our booking partner Booking.com.

The Memory at On On

In the heart of Phuket Town and built in 1929, making it one of Phuket’s oldest hotels, The Memory at On On was a seedy backpacker joint that featured in the movie The Beach before re-opening after extensive renovations in late 2013. While the hotel has retained some (refurbished) dorm-style accommodation and budget rooms, it’s the lovely mid-range rooms you should book with balconies, flat screen TVs and mini-bars. Despite the remodelling of rooms, it’s still the public spaces, including pretty courtyards and quiet nooks that exude the most charm. Decorated with retro furnishings and vintage pieces, such as antique wireless radios, they’re very photogenic (and frequently Instagrammed).

Book The Memory at On On Hotel online with our booking partner Booking.com.

When it comes to where to stay in Phuket, what do you prefer? Beach or Old Town? Do you have any favourites? Feel free to leave your recommendations in the comments below. We’re always looking for new hotels on Phuket to test out.

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