One of the most frequent requests to land in my inbox is for recommendation on where to stay in Koh Tao. (Which, by the way, along with most questions I get asked, is answered on my FAQ page! Did you know I have an FAQ page? If not, check it out!) Unfortunately, until now, I had little advice to offer — I always rent long term accommodation on the island and have little, if any, pulse on the hostel or hotel scene.
Which is why I’ve made it a goal to stay a few nights at a hotel or hostel every time I’m on the island, from here forward — so I can start putting together some recommendations for you guys.
First up? Aminjirah Resort in North Sairee.
Because Aminjirah is off my usual Koh Tao circuit, I’d actually never even laid eyes on it before staying there. But it seems I was one of the few — my expat friends named it as their new favorite day-off pool to crash and raved about the Mexican food and sunset views. Soon, I’d see why.
One thing I liked about Aminjirah right off the bat is that they have rooms at a wide price range. From small, garden facing budget villas to ocean view suites with private plunge pools, they really cater to a wide range of travelers. Rooms start at $45 and go up to around $160, with up to 15% off early bird specials available if you book far enough ahead.
Because it was low season, I was lucky enough to be upgraded to the Moon Ocean Pool Villa. In addition to the usual high end amenities — air conditioning, a fabulous shower, a tv and mini fridge and good free wifi — it had a really luxurious private outdoor space to boot.
I mean, I think we can all agree that any room that involves a private plunge pool with ocean views is a thing of beauty to be celebrated.
Literally the view out the bathroom window.
There were even carefully placed bamboo walls around to make sure that the various rooms with balconies and plunge pools had privacy — a very thoughtful touch. Heather stayed in a separate slightly more budget room, and while it lacked a pool it was insanely spacious and decorated with the same attention to detail.
Aminjirah is a hillside resort, meaning everything is connected by winding paths of stairs — this is definitely not a place for the mobility impaired. But it means that Instagram-worthy views are literally around every corner, most notably at what I think might by the island’s most enviable infinity pool.
Not bad, eh? The onsite restaurant, located right beyond the pool in the above picture, serves up an eclectic mix that includes highly recommend Mexican food and one of my favorite salads on the island. While certainly not the cheapest on the island, the prices aren’t that bad, considering the location — as I said, plenty of expats come here to eat on a regular basis. The one thing I felt was really overpriced were the shakes, but maybe I’m just too used to the cheap roadside version. The were delicious though, when I guiltily ordered one.
The only menu item that we universally concluded needed work? The pizza. Everything else was thumbs up.
Clearly, the pools and the views at Aminjirah won me over, as did being able to order a really delicious poolside salad (not true everywhere on the island, in my pool crashing experience.)
Another thing I loved? That Aminjirah offers a Mystery Room option for $65 a night — you might end up in the Garden Bungalow, sure, but you also might end up in a suite for the steal of a lifetime! For those that like to gamble it’s a fun option.
I also really appreciated Aminjirah’s location — it was just a four or five minute drive from downtown Sairee, but with none of the noise pollution you’d deal with if you were staying on the beach. And while the road is clearly uphill and I am a very cautious driver, I felt totally comfortable driving it even at night. For those that don’t want to rent a motorbike, there are shuttles in and out of town — and either way, free pickup and dropoff at the pier is included.
Room For Improvement
I’d love to see Aminjirah put in an onsite spa someday — I’d love to get a massage with those ocean views! Also, while Heather and I were staying at the resort, breakfast was not included, which I found odd at that price level. However, looking now it appears that breakfast is showing as included with bookings, so I’m glad to see they changed that.
Really, the only person to whom I would not recommend Aminjirah is a person who absolutely does not want to rent a motorbike. In that case you’d be restricted to the daily shuttle in and out of town, very expensive taxis, or long fifteen to twenty minute walks into town.
I give Aminjirah a thumbs up. It hit that perfect note of barefoot luxury — all the comforts of a high end resort (with rooms at budget prices!), but nothing so polished or posh that it felt out of place on laid back Koh Tao. For mid-range to high-end travelers, it hits all the right notes — and for two backpackers looking for a splurge, the budget rooms are a pretty amazing deal too.
Is there anywhere you’ve stayed on Koh Tao
that I should add to my list of places to check out?
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Many thanks to Aminjirah for hosting me so I could write this review (my friend Heather paid for her own room and we paid for all our own food and drinks.) As always, you receive my honest opinions regardless of who is footing the bill.