Thailand

Affordable Island Luxury at the Charming Fox in Koh Samui

KOH SAMUI HOTEL: A REVIEW OF AN AFFORDABLE, LUXE ADULTS ONLY OPTION

A trip to any tropical destination is always taking a bit of a gamble when it comes to weather.

Visiting the Thai islands was my first time staying on tropical islands. Prior to the experience, I’d visited plenty of beaches in Mexico, both east and west coasts of the US and in parts of Europe. But, I’d never actually ventured to a tropical island before.

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Staying on several Thai islands over the course of two weeks, I learned a lot, both about Thailand, but also island travel.

One of those things: The unpredictability of weather.

While it may seem obvious, I hadn’t thought much about how a thunderstorm or rainy day could impact my travel plans. Sure, I’d thought about what would happen if it rained the entire time I was staying on an island, but that seemed fine to me- find a beachfront cafes and watch the rain.

I hadn’t actually accounted for what could happen if the weather prevented me from even getting to an island.

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And, while I was fortunate enough to not have experience that type of travel mishap- I did see ongoing afternoon thunderstorms forecast during my stay in Railay.

One of them happened to coincide with a travel afternoon from Samui to Krabi, and then onward to Railay. Looking at the scheduled rain, I read about how if the rain is truly too heavy or there’s lightning, people are unable to get to/from Railay- because the only way there is by long tail boat.

At the time, I was staying in the Gulf Islands and experiencing beautiful sunshine, warm ocean breezes and magnificent sunsets.

Flying over to the Andaman side and risking whether I’d be able to even get to place where I was meant to be staying suddenly didn’t seem so appealing.

I decided to keep an eye on the weather and make a decision about what to do the day before heading back to Samui from Koh Tao.

Initially, I’d planned on having one day in Samui before flying to Railay. From everything I’d read about Samui, it didn’t quite sound like the kind of place I wanted to stay for more than a day or so- read: overdeveloped, difficult to get around without a motorbike.

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The night before my afternoon ferry to Samui, I checked the weather for Railay and sure enough- still showing a thunderstorm forecast for my travel day. However, the day after that looked clear (as did the days that followed).

Realising I could move my flight with Bangkok Airways by one day free of charge, I decided to spend two nights on Koh Samui before flying to Railay. It’d mean I’d have one less day in Railay, but I was okay with that.

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Once I’d moved my flight, I started looking at places to stay. I hadn’t booked a Koh Samui hotel prior, because I was only planning on spending one night in Samui and from earlier searches, knew there were a ton of properties to choose from.

Now though, since I’d be spending two nights there, I was a bit more selective with the Koh Samui hotel I chose.

Somehow, I stumbled across The Charming Fox, south of of the Bo’Phut pier. Looking at photos on their website, as well as with booking agent Agoda, I was transfixed- an adults only hilltop resort with stunning views of the sea?

Secluded, yet stylish. It looked like a dreamy place to spend two days recharging after a busy couple of days in Koh Tao, and before that Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.

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The Charming Fox rates hover at £70-80 per night regularly pending what type of room you select, so it’s arguably affordable even if you book ahead of time. Better yet, I found my rooftop villa for far less than the normal price because I booked less than 24 hours ahead of my stay.

I also had £30 of Agoda points to splash, so although it came in over my typical daily budget, it wasn’t that much more than I would have spent at places in Samui nowhere near as nice.

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Getting to this particular Koh Samui hotel was a challenge, and something I feel they should openly advise guests about. I booked a group shuttle from the ferry to a hotel as part of my ticket, which is standard. It wasn’t until I arrived in Samui that it became very clear none of the taxi drivers knew where my hotel was- even when I showed it to them on a map, they were confused.

Finally, two drivers yelled at me to just get in a taxi and said ‘we know, we know’, which I took to mean they’d figured it out.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case- it turned out I was in a taxi van that was bound for the east coast of Samui- Lamai and Chaweng even though my hotel was in the opposite direction.

Once my driver dropped off everyone else in Chaweng, he looked at me and said, ‘you too- get out’. But, I argued with him and showed him (for the fourth time) where Charming Fox was on a map. He made a few calls and eventually started driving back the way we came.

Things were fine for a while, but then we started going up higher in the mountains toward the resort- the good views Charming Fox boasts aren’t a reality at sea level.

The roads were incredibly, and candidly, dangerously, steep. Twice, the driver didn’t think his van would make it. The second time, he screamed at me to get out and walk the rest of the way.

Keep in mind- this happened on a dark country road with zero lighting or other homes nearby, and I’m traveling as a solo female. Of course, I objected and demanded he take me to the hotel- after all, that was what I had paid for. I even gave him the option of taking me back to the pier town, but insisted it be with a full refund so I could try to find a car that may fare better on the roads.

After yelling at me for a few more minutes (half English / half Thai), he gunned it and sped up the last hill. His van was fine- as were the other vans that I saw going up/down the road in the next two days.

Reading reviews for the hotel, it seems this is a pretty common occurrence with local drivers, so I’d urge the hotel staff to proactively offer solutions for incoming guests- e.g. arranging a taxi for them with a driver who is familiar with the hotel location.

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Once I arrived though, Charming Fox was so relaxing, I soon forgot about the taxi incident.

I’d booked myself in a Dream Suite (because it was the only option available last minute), which is their nicer room option. The Love Villas look beautiful as well and are slightly cheaper per night.

Whichever room you’re in, you’ll soon realise minimalist luxury is what makes Charming Fox so wonderful.

They let the view and natural surroundings speak for themselves.

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In the lobby, furnishings are minimal, with the spotlight being on the infinity pool with views stretching far across the island and Gulf of Siam.

The best part about the pool? No time restrictions on when you can use it. That’s right, it’s open 24 hours.

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My villa was located above the lobby, which was convenient. The Love Villas are downstairs and outside, along with an onsite gym.

Sadly, I didn’t check out the gym (still reeling from very bad sunburn), but I did enjoy swimming laps in the pool to cool off with a beautiful view.

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My Koh Samui hotel room was breathtaking. The view alone was reason enough to stay- the same view I’d fawned over below, I now had my own private vantage point of through long sliding doors and a beautiful narrow balcony.

The private jacuzzi on the balcony was the icing on the cake as far as I was concerned.

My only wish for the balcony? That the staff would add chairs for guests to sit on if they fancy lounging outside.

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In the room itself, a kingsize bed and super soft sheets make sleep an actual dream. There’s a comfy couch, functional desk, incredible rainforest shower and beautiful bathroom, strong air conditioning, and a giant swivel TV equipped with Netflix.

There’s also a mini bar, coffee maker and tea maker available for use.

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My only complaints about the room?

There are no blankets provided- only a super thin top sheet. With air conditioning on any speed, it’s really not enough to keep warm in the night. When I asked the front desk whether they had blankets, they said they thought it was odd they weren’t offered but the owner refused to do so for no other reason than it was a tropical island and he didn’t believe they were needed. They did however, offer to give me another sheet.

One other thing to note, on their website, it states the mini bar comes with one complimentary refill, but that’s definitely not the case. I was fully charged for items I took during my stay- even though there are no signs in the room advertising how much those items cost.

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Aside from those minor issues, this Koh Samui hotel truly is minimal luxury. So luxurious that I decided to only leave the resort once, heading to town to get some food, drinks and snacks since there’s nothing in walking distance of the resort.

It was a two day period where I watched tons of Netflix, wrote a bunch, accomplished a lot of trip planning, and just relaxed.

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Part of how Charming Fox keeps its per night fee so low is how it structures inclusions. Included in your stay is breakfast every day (served until 1 pm), but no other meals are possible, and no bar for drinks exists. The staff also leaves at 10 pm every night, locking the property on their way out.

These things weren’t a big deal to me- I chose to eat late breakfasts and then had sandwiches and snacks from the supplies I’d picked up in Fisherman’s Village.

If you’re not renting a motorbike and want to go back and forth to Fisherman’s Village or anywhere else on the island, the staff will happily arrange a one-way or return taxi. A return to Fisherman’s Village for me to make my initial grocery run cost 400 baht, which is also why I decided to stay on property until I left (budget ;)). I’d also looked at the restaurants in Fisherman’s Village and genuinely didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything.

Plus, the breakfast Charming Fox served was enough food for easily two meals. Unlike most hotels in Thailand, it’s not a sad buffet, but instead a menu with a few different options to choose from.

Both days, I had scrambled eggs with veggies on toast and a side of pancakes with berry compote. Breakfast came with a pot of tea and a heaping plate of toast with butter and jam.

The only thing I wish were different? A touch more flexibility with the menu- e.g. having a few fruit juices to choose from or being able to make an iced coffee would go a long way.

But, overall, breakfast offered by this Koh Samui hotel was outstanding, both in quality and value.

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In case the above reasons aren’t enough for you to consider booking a stay of your own- the hotel is also eco conscious. Water and all bath products are provided in re-usable and refillable glass bottles. And, it’s clear there’s been an emphasis on sustainability in choose the hotel materials as well.

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Perusing Agoda reviews, I’ve seen reference to the staff not being friendly or the room not being clean enough, but I didn’t encounter either of these problems. Cleaning staff quickly cleaned my room on my second day while I was at breakfast. And, the staff were nothing but helpful in answering my questions about taxis, timings to leave for the airport, etc.

All said, I’m so glad I stayed. Charming Fox offered me the kind of secluded luxe experience I likely won’t have at any other time on this trip, because budget.

10/10 would recommend to anyone looking for a bit of quiet and luxury in a Koh Samui hotel.

Have you ever stayed at a secluded island resort? Where was it, did you enjoy it? Do you have any Koh Samui hotel recos to share? 

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