It was quite a last minute decision to spend a night in Phuket Old Town after we left Paresa Resort. Rachel had brought the Lonely Planet Thailand Islands & Beaches guidebook with her, and I was flicking through some local magazines which all said it was worth visiting. (My photos of the architecture of the Old Town are here.)
As we had seven nights unaccounted for in our Thailand travel schedule, preferring to make a plan once we got here, a night there seemed like a great idea, especially once we had decided that we were going to travel to Koh Lanta after Phuket – the boat jetty is only about fifteen minutes away.
After some frantic Googling and a bit of Trip Advisor action (yes, it’s full of frothing loons, but sane people can read between the lines), I managed to snag the last room for the 1st January at the Casa Blanca Boutique Hotel,in a restored Sino-Portuguese mansion.
Although the exterior is impressive, nothing prepared us for the beautiful atrium behind reception.
Our room was scrupulously clean – eat your supper off the floor clean, with three lovely long windows overlooking the small pool (which we didn’t use).
The decor is an odd hybrid of 1970s – textured wallpaper, brown cushions, and 21st century Living Etc chic – white orchids, vintage mosaics, glass shower. But it works, charmingly.
Our bags were carried upstairs for us (and down the next day), a fruit plate and iced cold tea were delivered shortly afterwards. There were piles of fresh white towels, a hairdryer, free bottled water, a dressing table with cushioned wooden chair, a walk in shower, a big TV, and a safe. There is good, free WiFi throughout the hotel.
The pool looked very clean too, and we only saw one person in it during our stay.
The interiors of the hotel were seriously pretty, there is also a little white bakery cafe off the reception lobby, selling bagels, cheesecake and coffee, and a small restaurant which we didn’t check out. (We arrived at 6pm and left at 8am the next morning.)
Accessibility was better than usual here – it’s better suited though for the walking disabled than chair users. There are steps up into the hotel so chair users would have to be carried, but the reception and ground floor are level and, although the lift/elevator has an out of order sign, in reality it is used solely as a luggage lift so less mobile users could use it.
The no-trip walk-in shower is helpful too, although there are no grab rails for the loo or rails/seat inside the shower, and I don’t think a wheelchair would get through the door. (The hotel can provide a plastic stool if asked, for showering.)
The hotel were exceptionally helpful with all our queries, providing a photostat map of the Old Town and showing us where to walk. They also booked our boat transfer to Koh Lanta the next day, including a pick up from the hotel. (As always, do your research first, so you know what to ask for: we wanted a speedboat – 1hr 30, not the ferry 4hrs.)
The only downside to the hotel’s efficient helpfulness was later discovering the 500baht per head premium they whacked on the boat tickets they sold us. That’s a tenner each – a pretty hefty commission. Then again, we certainly weren’t going to start trotting the streets looking for a travel agent, we don’t speak Thai, very few people speak English, and I had had no luck with email queries for the boats.
So – if you are on a budget – and 500baht translates as four plates of Pad Thai at a small island place, book your travel elsewhere. If you are pretty relaxed last minute fiends like us, then take the hit.
Casa Blanca Boutique Hotel. 26 Phuket Road, Taladyai, Muang, Phuket, Thailand
We paid £50 for a Superior room, for one night, breakfast only. There are cheaper rooms, but this was the only one available, and £50 seems about the average.
Superior rooms overlook the pool (we had no noise at all), and Deluxe rooms – which are more expensive overlook the street. I’d go for the Superior. There is one family suite.