If you’ve ever visited an island in Thailand, you can understand why I’m having a hard time remembering the details about the accommodations. Between the buckets and the black lights, everything kind of blurs.
Luckily, the Charm Churee Villa on Koh Tao provide the perfect place to cure your hangover in a cozy and authentic (while still air conditioned) atmosphere.
Perched at the top of a steep and rocky incline, the spacious lobby filled with mismatched pillows and chairs, kitschy chandeliers, and TVs circa 2006 serves as the looking glass through which you enter another dimension. From the lobby’s freestanding vestibules of typical Thai design with steeped roofs and gold detail, the receptionists welcome you to the jungle in broken English.
As you walk through jungle to your private straw-roofed hut while swatting swinging vines away from your face, the first thought that comes to mind is, “what did I do to deserve this?”
Charm Churee’s rooms line the rocky slope that leads to the hotel’s private beaches. With trees of all shapes and sizes framing each bungalow, from the outside they resemble adult tree houses. If you’re in one of the fancier cottages or bamboo huts, however, it feels more like you’re dangling off a cliff, because you kind of are.
Stark and dark, the rooms are almost untouched, aside from the necessary furniture—a bed, a chair or two, a mosquito net, a mini fridge and thankfully, an air conditioner. With the AC and mini fridge the only modern amenities, it’s easy to fall into island time. Each room—even the cheapest at around $80 per night—has a balcony with views of the water.
For an even better view, head to your private stone and aqua-tiled semi-outdoor shower that provides just enough privacy without taking you out of the element.
Some rooms come with communal areas between the bedroom and the balcony, which makes the perfect place for a pregame.
For good and bad reasons, what’s most memorable about the Charm Churee are the winding shaded walkways. The uphill climb from the beach to your bungalow or from your hut to the parking lot is steep, long and narrow. And downhill isn’t much easier. However, it’s these same walkways that take you deep into the jungle, bring you closer to wildlife and lead you to the private cove at the bottom of the hill. These paths provoke a mix of emotions—and sore muscles—that are impossible to shake.
Charm Churee is tucked into a cove made up of four beaches. The cove is known around the island as Koh Tao’s best spot for snorkeling and scuba diving, both of which can be arranged by the hotel. The property has four beaches and three restaurants on-site—all of which offer different and equally stunning views of Jansom Bay. If you walk along the water, you can easily catch a water taxi to take you around the island.
From your bungalow, enjoy the tranquility that the surrounding lush jungle supplies, which is only interrupted by ribbiting frogs.
The property is a 10-minute walk from the port, which is the only way to get to and from the island. The center of town, which is where you can find everything from beach bars to bucket stands to upscale restaurants, is about two-miles from the hotel but not the safest walk. Cabs are easily acquired from the lobby.
Maggie Parker is the assistant travel editor at Paste Magazine.
Images from Charm Churee Villa on Facebook.