Is it totally crazy to take young children to a boutique hotel?

Is it totally crazy to take young children to a boutique hotel?

Travel with kids – Sandalwood Luxury Villas in Koh Samui

In November, we went to Thailand for 3 weeks. It was brilliant. We started in Bangkok, with 4 days to explore the city. We visited the Grand Palace, the Golden Temple, and other dazzling places like Wat Pho to see the reclining Buddha.

Should you go to Bangkok with young children? Read here for my thoughts and some tips.

Koh Samui with kids in a luxury boutique hotel

After Bangkok we went on to Koh Samui for a fantastically relaxing time in a stylish, boutique hotel. Sandalwood Luxury Villas is set high on a hill in Koh Samui, and run by an American, who married a Thai. The hotel is a series of villas, each detached and some with its own pool. I think there are some really great features to boutique hotels.
koh samui sandalwood reception
European boutique hotels we’ve stayed in have been wonderful. However people go to Thailand, and particularly Koh Samui, for a bit of peace and quiet, don’t they? So I was initially apprehensive about taking two little children to a hotel with just 14 rooms, not least because I expected that other guests would be there for rest and relaxation, not jumping in and out of the pool with a 4 year old! We’re not shy about taking our kids on holidays, but I think there’s something reassuring about the anonymity of chain hotels sometimes, not least that you know what you’ll be getting, and that the rooms will have soundproofing for the sake of other guests!

We found that being high on the hill had its advantages; in particular – check out the view from our balcony!

koh samui sandalwood
Yet it had a couple of disadvantages, for example we couldn’t easily pop to a local restaurant for our evening meal, nor was there the opportunity to have a stroll along and see life happening.
This is where the boutique hotel really came into play. Our room had a small kitchen area, with a microwave and fridge, which allowed for a bit of creative cooking. koh samui sandalwood blue ginger restaurant
koh samui hotel blue gingerThe restaurant in the hotel was brilliant, and breakfast was included, but for lunch and evening meals, we didn’t always want to take tired, cranky children to sit in a public space. You know what I mean, right? We bought sandwich bread and cheese for sandwiches, and pot noodles, for quick and easy any-time snacks or meals. The hotel provided us with fruit, including an impressive-looking-yet-dull-to-eat dragon fruit, so we could give the boys healthy snacks easily too.

koh samui sandalwood orchid

koh samui sandalwood koi
What else did we love about the Sandalwood Hotel? The villa we stayed in was on two floors, with a main bedroom downstairs and a mezzanine level providing a smaller bedroom upstairs. This let us put James to bed and then draw the curtain on the mezzanine so he had some darkness and we could watch tv before we went to sleep.
Bags with beach towels were provided in the room. We could replace the beach towels as often as we liked from the box next to the main pool, or housekeeping switched them for fresh towels daily.
James loved playing with the owner’s 5-year-old son, and we went to the nearby splash park with them, and to Walking Street one evening. This, obviously, isn’t a feature offered by all boutique hotels, but we have found that many will tailor a sightseeing tour or make recommendations for you if you discuss your needs with them. On from Koh Samui we went on to Chiang Mai, which we wouldn’t have done if it wasn’t for the recommendation of the Sandalwood Hotel. Chiang Mai was a spectacular place to visit with young children, and we were lucky to catch the wonder of the Loi Krathong festival.

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We enjoyed the service in the hotel, which was responsive to our needs. For example when we arrived, we weren’t certain if James would manage the stairs up to the mezzanine, or if we wanted to block it off so that Noah couldn’t climb up. The stairs didn’t have a bannister or risers to the steps, so it could have been a cause for concern. But straight away a spare bed was brought in and set up in the main bedroom so that James had the option to sleep downstairs with us, or in his fabulous “upstairs room”.
koh samui sandalwood boutique

koh samui sandalwood boutique hotel

Each day, a car would be booked for us, and when it was ready, the phone would ring in the room to let us know. We weren’t always quite expecting the call, particularly when we’d suggested we might visit somewhere, in a holiday-mode kind of consideration. Our consideration had been taken for a definite during discussion with the hotel owners, and they’d passed the information to the reception to make sure our plans became reality. One time we left in a hurry and didn’t find the key to our room, so when we returned that evening, we had to make a quick stop off at the reception to pick up another key. When we returned home, it transpired that the key we’d been using for the last day was actually the spare key, as we found the original key while unpacking at home. Now we have an unusual souvenir, as (following a quick email to explain) the hotel reassured us they’d ordered replacement keys. Oops!
koh samui sandalwood swimming poolkonfidence neoprene swim ball
Swim toys were available in the pool area, which was a lovely touch, even though we had our Konfidence toys. It’s always exciting to find new gear to play with!
Another great feature of the Sandalwood Hotel in Koh Samui was the spa. Rob and I each got a wonderful treatment. We went one after the other, but the opportunity for babysitting was offered to us, in case we wanted to go together or enjoy a couple’s massage.

As a stylish hotel the Sandalwood was child and family friendly, and in the future I wouldn’t be so apprehensive about taking young children to a more unique property.



  1. Sam | North East Family Fun Blog
    March 30, 2017 / 11:08 am

    Oh wow this hotel looks wonderful – in particular I love the pool and views! Pool toys are a huge plus. I love small boutique hotels like this as you really do get the personal touch don’t you. It wouldn’t bother me if I was visiting somewhere without kids for peace and quiet but there were kids there. There’s always a quiet spot to find if you are really desperate.

    • babyfoote
      March 30, 2017 / 7:19 pm

      Yes, that’s true, and in the Sandalwood Luxury Villas, there were so many private pools that you didn’t have to sit around or swim in the public areas.

      The views are amazing. Such a great place.

  2. March 31, 2017 / 9:36 am

    That looks like such an amazing place to stay and now it reminds me when we stayed in Langkawi. Your views are just stunning though!

    • babyfoote
      March 31, 2017 / 9:43 am

      We really need to go back that way so we can do Langkawi and other Malaysian places. We fancied the Philippines… So many gorgeous places in the world and so little time to see it all!!

  3. March 31, 2017 / 11:05 am

    This place looks heavenly! I took my girls to a grown up hotel in Italy a few years ago and was worried about similar issues; pool play, eating out etc but it all went well. We ate in the room a lot and other guests didn’t seem to mind having two smiling little girls having fun in the sun! 🙂

  4. March 31, 2017 / 2:48 pm

    This looks like such a lovely location. I think it’s great that the hotel were so accommodating and helpful especially with the boys. And that pool looks pretty darn good too!

  5. April 2, 2017 / 5:55 pm

    *packs bag, feeds cats, heads to Thailand for some R&R…*

    • babyfoote
      April 2, 2017 / 6:30 pm

      This made me laugh so much! Thank you (take me with you!)

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