Anyway, here’s to another 12 months of my unwavering yet perhaps misguided belief that all of this newspaper’s readership await with high anticipation my monthly musings and on receiving their copy turn immediately to my column!
As you all know, Phuket hospitality happenings are frequently the topic of conversation amongst those of us who live here as we continually seek out new establishments to experience and equally to recommend to our friends who visit. Villa Angelica falls into the latter category and came to my attention having recently won an award of Travellers’ Choice Best Bed and Breakfast in Thailand from an internationally renowned travel website.
Having received an invitation to stay from the Finnish proprietrix Sirpa, via a mutual friend, I find myself navigating the quaint meandering country lanes that lead from Laguna to Bang Tao on a rather overcast afternoon. Located within the heart of this unspoilt maze of narrow, winding byroads, GPS is obligatory, although in truth it is a mere 10 minutes from bustling Boat Avenue.
I take a few moments to gaze at the passing landscape of a side of Phuket which we rarely see – small roadside mom-and-pop food stalls and artisan restaurants in which their outward simplicity belies local gourmet gems. This is a step back in time and one which reminds me of the true treasures of Phuket, rather than the more frenetic hustle of Phuket Town or indeed the neon lights and predictable nighttime brashness of Patong.
Arriving and entering the courtyard of this traditional Thai-style villa, it exudes a tranquil ambience as I am warmly welcomed by my host. Following a global career in banking, and a lengthy time in the region, her love for Thailand persuaded her to share her passion for hospitality by purchasing this delightful six-room property. The rooms, named after local fruits, look out over a decidedly tempting pool where one may pass a lazy afternoon.
Shown to my room, I am immediately both surprised and impressed with the balance of character and luxury. My room is spacious and comfortably furnished. I notice a generous fruit basket, a slightly concealed safe, an extremely well-equipped mini bar, tea and coffee for the morning, and for those of us who can’t ever truly disconnect, of which I am one, a smart TV enabled with Netflix. Free WiFi is of course available.
The bathroom is as large as the bedroom, with a jacuzzi and a rainforest shower, and is jam-packed with useful knick-knacks one often forgets alongside a variety of amenities to ensure you shower in comfort. As I unpack, I notice a focus on attention to detail with flower petals tastefully scattered, a refreshing fruit juice and a cold towel to complete my welcome.
I have a dinner engagement outside as sadly I was unaware that, on advance request, Sirpa can arrange for an impromptu evening meal on the terrace should one wish. I take a few moments before departing to chat about the other services they offer. A complimentary shuttle service takes one to Laguna in the evening and also to a choice of beaches following breakfast. For those inclined, bicycles are available, also at no charge. Having owned the guesthouse for only a year, I am pleasantly surprised at the research Sirpa has undertaken of the locale to ensure guests have lots to do, should they wish.
Staff are always available on site for late arrivals, but in the event of any unforeseen circumstances, I am given a front door key and advised that the door is locked around 10pm. I return late and, whilst I make my way to my room, I can hear nothing but the calming sounds of nature.
Having enjoyed an undisturbed slumber, and following morning ablutions, I make my way to the dining area overlooking the pool. Breakfast is buffet-style with a wide variety of charcuterie, breads and healthy options, somewhat intriguingly displayed in the converted rear of a polished tuk-tuk. Freshly prepared eggs are available as are hot and crispy pancakes.
Having extolled the virtues of this chic guesthouse, you will be unsurprised when I tell you that it has won many awards from numerous travel websites and past guest reviews are without exception hugely positive.
So for those of you who have friends visiting Phuket, either from Bangkok or further afield, this is incredibly good value and well worth recommending. And for those of you in the South of the island who find yourselves seeking a few nights away, I can wholeheartedly recommend. Finnish hospitality perfectly blended with Thai character.
Chris is a former Michelin Guide Inspector who, following an international career in hospitality spanning 30 years in both the Middle East and Asia, has now settled in Thailand and contributes a monthly column.