A hip Thailand hotel at a steal of a price: My stay at The Standard, Hua Hin
When The Standard hotel brand planted its first flag in Thailand, it wasn’t its glimmering, new Bangkok tower. Instead, it was a beachside resort about 2.5 hours southwest in the city of Hua Hin. Hua Hin might not be as well-known internationally as other Thai hot spots like Phuket or Koh Samui. However, this seaside …
Hua Hin might not be as well-known internationally as other Thai hot spots like Phuket or Koh Samui. However, this seaside enclave is still very much an enjoyable getaway, especially after a few days in the hectic Thai capital. An added bonus: Travelers from the U.S. will find The Standard, Hua Hin’s starting price point to be a screaming deal compared to what you’d find for a beach resort here in the U.S.
The Standard, Hua Hin, isn’t as much of a day-to-day social scene as its sibling properties in New York City, London or Miami Beach. But this is definitely more of a youthful place to stay in Hua Hin compared to neighboring properties from brands like Marriott or Hilton. And although Hua Hin might not top your list of Thai destinations, if you do find yourself passing through, it’s an excellent option to explore for a few days by the shore.
The Standard, Hua Hin, isn’t the easiest to book using points since it isn’t part of a hotel loyalty program. However, you can book cash rates directly, or through a credit card travel portal like American Express Travel or Capital One Travel and redeem points or miles that way.
I booked a Superior King, Higher Floor room directly through The Standard website for 4,250 Thai baht (roughly $111) per night, which was the most affordable option at the time. This is one category up from The Standard’s entry-level Superior King room on the lower floors of the building (I was on the fifth floor) and included breakfast each morning.
The most convenient way to get to and from Bangkok is via a taxi or private car service, which The Standard, Hua Hin, team arranged for my entire stay in Thailand. In fact, the Hua Hin team went a step further and arranged for my airport transport to my earlier stay at The Standard, Bangkok Mahanakhon as well.
It’s about a 2.5-hour drive from Bangkok to Hua Hin without traffic. However, my return trip to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) took a little more than three hours thanks to traffic. The Standard car service typically operates as an airport round-trip, but they picked me up from the Capella Bangkok, a hotel I reviewed earlier in my trip. It was 2,500 baht (roughly $66 at the time) each way. Drivers both ways kindly offered to make pit stops en route, too.
Hua Hin is also on the State Railway of Thailand’s Southern Line, which offers service to Bangkok. Trains take at least 3.5 hours between the two cities. Tickets start at around 120 baht, or $4.
- The Standard, Hua Hin is great for a budget-friendly beach vacation. Of course, you can also upgrade to a luxe villa with a private pool for several hundred dollars more than I was spending each night (These looked very fun when I walked by each day en route to breakfast and the pool).
- Service is once again a strength for The Standard brand. Just as I was impressed by the team at the Standard Bangkok, I was equally impressed by how The Standard, Hua Hin team was extraordinarily friendly, helpful and just fun to be around.
- The enormous pool area has plenty of lounge area to luxuriate and catch some rays amidst a cool crowd. The poolside drink and snack service made this my favorite afternoon hangout.
- The Standard Spa, which is tucked away in a quiet alcove of the property, is an ideal place to unwind or rejuvenate after a day in the sun.
- The hotel’s Surf Club has plenty of surfing and beach gear for rent and even offers lessons for those looking to shoot the curl.
- Great off-property places to hit during your stay here include Hua Hin’s Cicada Market, a weekend night market that features art, crafts, food and entertainment; and the more traditional Hua Hin Night Market, which is open every night of the week and where I grabbed my last pad thai of the trip.
- Hua Hin is not the easiest place to get to compared to other parts of Thailand thanks to the fact that there’s no major international airport, and it was easy to see how Bangkok traffic could easily make the 2.5-hour drive to the resort a lot longer.
- There is a see-and-be-seen atmosphere here that could get bothersome at times thanks to having to stop while other guests attempted impromptu Instagram photo shoots at various spots around the property.
- The beach here is perfectly fine and even a strength for those looking to be active, but it’s not in the same category of tranquil paradise as other Thai beach destinations.
It would be easy to generalize The Standard, Hua Hin as a hip, beachside enclave where young and fabulous travelers go to slink by the pool with a cocktail in hand. Yes, there is plenty of that, but the overall aesthetic of the resort is more nuanced.
The open-air lobby exudes welcoming vibes that this resort extends to all traveler types. The place might teem with twentysomethings with smartphones and social media accounts to keep populated with fresh content, but there are plenty of families with young children who are also keeping the bars, restaurants and cafe here humming with business.
Don’t fret: The pool is spacious enough to accommodate guests of every demographic comfortably.
Following check-in with the very affable front-desk staff, I made my way to my room on the fifth floor. A member of the resort staff brought up my luggage shortly after I made it to my room. The resort is spread out across two buildings of guest rooms and suites as well as various villas closer to the waterfront.
Thanks to the layout of the exterior corridor of each of the two buildings, guest rooms and suites all feature balconies with courtyard views. After opening my door with the tap of a keycard, I walked into what was a very spacious and cheery space.
The entryway included a long storage area with a cabinet to stow my luggage on, as well as ample room for hanging clothes. There were two very soft robes. Alas, having just purchased two back at The Standard in Bangkok, I decided another robe purchase would have been too extravagant. The in-room safe for storing valuables like passports was also inside the storage cabinet.
This storage area included a bag to send out for laundry service, which was a bargain compared to other hotels during my stay. I got about three days’ worth of laundry done for about 800 baht (around $23), which was well below the $40 charged for a similar amount at the Four Seasons in Bangkok.
Across from this storage area was the bathroom, which included a walk-in rainfall shower and an under-sink shelving unit for towels. One of the areas I tend to be hard on hotels for is whether there are enough hooks to hang towels or robes on in a bathroom.
The Standard, Hua Hin passed this test with flying colors, as there were three hooks on the wall in the bathroom on top of all the hanging space across the way in the storage area. The Hua Hin resort, like its Bangkok sibling, provides Davines products.
Back out in the main part of the guest room was the cozy king-size bed with a bright yellow comforter, a light brown leather headboard and wall-mounted reading lamps on either side of the bed with wicker shades. There were universal electrical outlets on either side of the bed, as well as master control light switches to conveniently turn the room lights on and off at bedtime.
Because I was so spoiled by The Standard Bangkok’s bedside switch that controlled the windows’ blackout shades, I made a little note of the absence of one here and having to get out of bed to go manually shut my window shades at night. Of course, this room was also $130 per night less than its Bangkok counterpart. I quickly got over it.
Across from the bed was a seating area with a simple couch, a wicker stool and a table that featured a welcome gift from the resort with savory crackers and cookies. It was a nice hospitable touch amid the bright decor of the room.
The minibar area included a kettle to make coffee and tea in the morning, and there were items for purchase like Singha beer for 120 baht (about $3), soft drinks for 50 baht (about $1.40) and crispy noodle snacks for 75 baht (about $2). Again, it was hard not to compare the Bangkok property to this one, as I liked the ease of the city hotel’s in-room Nespresso machine over having to make a pour-over coffee from the kettle.
There was a sliding door to walk out onto the room’s private balcony, which held two chairs and a table. This was where you’d find me in the mornings catching up on emails or reading my book after sunset while killing time before dinner. You’d hear the occasional rooster crow and the sound of waves in the distance — nice natural reminders that you’re out of the city and on vacation.
My room wasn’t overly luxurious, but it was a very enjoyable spot to spend a few days by the beach. It had been a while since I stayed at a beachside resort, and The Standard, Hua Hin, was an excellent place to put a foot back in the water, so to speak.
Food and beverage
It was a much easier time trying to sample my way through the restaurant line-up in Hua Hin compared to The Standard’s many food and beverage outlets back in Bangkok. Dining at the Hua Hin hotel centers around the Italian-focused Lido, the poolside Lido Bar, the Thai-inspired Praça and the Juice Cafe just off the lobby.
Lido Bar offers a mix of Western dishes like burgers and pizza, as well as Thai staples like pad thai and smoked pork pad krapow. I was hungry after check-in and a few hours away from my dinner reservation at Praca, so I ordered a grilled chicken and pork satay by the pool for 250 baht (about $7).
The six satay skewers came with a peanut dipping sauce and were a tasty way to tide me over until dinner. The bar also ran two-for-one happy hour specials, so I ended up with two Stella Artois pints for 280 baht ($8).
I was a little surprised to see Thai beers were more novelties than mainstays on the menu. There was a white ale and pale ale from Thai craft brewer Mahanakhon (both very tasty), but there weren’t any mainstream brands like Chang or Singha. I had to head back to the guest room minibar to sample Singha (or to a nearby night market for Chang).
Later that night, I went to Praca for dinner. The space is a stunner, with its main beachside cottage offering outdoor dining on a wraparound porch and tables closer to the water for more of an alfresco experience. It was a treat to nab a high-top table right at the edge of the beach (I purposefully chose this seat to be near the sound of the waves, but those looking for better lighting might prefer a table closer to the restaurant).
I wanted to try the local fare, and Praca delivered. Rak bua tod (160 baht or $4.50) — fried lotus root served with a pork-and-tomato chili dip — was a delectable way to begin the meal. I recognized I was devouring fried vegetables, but the batter was light enough that I didn’t feel all that guilty with my hearty starter.
From there, I moved on to ba mee haeng neua (340 baht, or $9.50) — a bowl of slow-cooked beef, egg noodles, chili and a soft-boiled egg. I love spicy foods, so this was a winner for me — though, I was grateful to wash it down with an icy Hua Gin (320 baht, or $9), a spicy-sweet cocktail comprised of chili, guava, lemon and Four Pillars gin. I’m normally not a lover of sweet cocktails, but the heat of the chili balanced out the sweetness of the fruit. It was a pleasant drink to sip next to the beach.
Places like Praca can, and often do, rely more on their location than their cuisine to draw a crowd. However, the team here won me over with delicious, affordable fare in a lovely setting by the beach.
Neighboring Lido hosts The Standard’s sprawling breakfast buffet each morning. This featured a wide array of options, from omelets made to order and crispy bacon to varied stir-fried dishes. There were even stations for making your own noodle dishes (including a variety of noodles like glass noodles and wide rice noodles) with various meats and vegetables.
Breakfast was included with my nightly room rate, and it was a great way to start the day with a table outside as the indoor dining areas closer to the buffet stations were more crowded and hectic.
While it may have been busy, Lido’s breakfast staff was still very attentive. On my second morning, members of the team remembered I had ordered an omelet and coffee the day prior and they were quick to see if I wanted the same thing again or if I preferred to try something different.
Those looking for a more laid-back start to the day could pop into the Juice Cafe for smoothies or coffee. I went here for a 190-baht ($5) berry smoothie after a workout one day, and it was far less crowded than the Lido breakfast rush.
I did pop back into Lido for lunch one day, which was significantly quieter than in the morning. The staff again was incredibly helpful and attentive and recommended I try a few special dishes. There was a smoked salmon toast (380 baht, or $11) that was overflowing with salmon and would have been enough on its own with the various greens and a spritz of olive oil and lime.
A trio of crostini (380 baht, of $11) topped with a mix of avocado, bacon and cheese was fine but forgettable. Local prawns (400 baht, or $11.50) had a nice element of heat with spices and sauce that were delicious when soaked up with house-made focaccia.
I appreciated getting to try Lido at a calmer time of day, as it was a good way to see how pretty the space itself is with light wood paneling, pops of green (both with plants and upholstery) and an indoor-outdoor feel thanks to enormous windows.
Service and amenities
After traveling so far from my home on the East Coast, I finally indulged in a few spa treatments while at The Standard, Hua Hin. I just happened to get lucky with a lottery ticket at a Boston bar the night before my trip, so I didn’t feel quite as guilty booking both a massage and a facial.
My 90-minute deep-tissue massage (3,000 baht, or $88) was significantly less expensive than anything back home, and I walked away feeling relieved of all the neck and shoulder tension that comes with hunching over a laptop.
Because I was perhaps a little overly eager to get out in the sun throughout my trip, I wanted to moisturize to make sure there wouldn’t be too much peeling on my way back home. I booked a 60-minute Hydra Happy facial (2,600 baht, or $76) to help me in this area.
I thought I was relaxed just from being at the resort, but I ambled away from the treatment area feeling truly zen. The tea provided by the team afterward certainly helped, too, and the staff was very considerate in offering tips on hydration and skincare in the future.
The Standard Surf Club is another wonderful amenity at the resort, as it provides an extensive range of beach equipment and lessons for activities like surfing and kiteboarding. I booked a paddleboard for 350 baht (about $10) for an hour on my last day, and the attendant kindly let me know I could use it for longer since it wasn’t that busy.
The pool was also a major highlight of the stay. There was ample seating around the enormous pool, which featured shallow areas popular with young families earlier in the day and deeper areas for those swimming laps. There was also a changing area off the pool deck that had showers to rinse off from either a day of sunning by the pool or swimming at the beach.
The hotel gym did not rate as highly. The gym at The Standard back in Bangkok was so massive and well-equipped that the gym at The Standard, Hua Hin simply couldn’t compare. It was just a small room with a few assorted cardio machines and weights.
There was enough variety to get in a decent workout during off-peak times, but I think it would be smart to monitor this area a bit more closely.
I found guests in here focused more on taking photos rather than working out. Others were working out in flip-flops and not athletic shoes. One guest even had her small dog sitting on the bench as she pumped iron. The dog was certainly cute, but a gym is probably not the safest place for an animal.
Out and about
It was great to be able to walk down the beach at sunset. Being a nosey hotel reporter, it was also nice to do this and get a sampling of the other resorts nearby. Pay attention, as you will see people riding horses along the beach — a beautiful addition to the waves and sand, but steer clear of these galloping beauties as well as their…detritus.
I highly recommend checking out the Cicada Market on weekends, as it was a one-stop shop for souvenirs, buying hand-made crafts for friends and family, and taking in some live music while enjoying a drink or eating street food. It was an unexpected pleasure, and only a five-minute rideshare away. I used the Grab rideshare platform and my trip cost only 108 baht, or $3, each way.
The Hua Hin Night Market was another fun spot to grab food at night only five minutes away in the other direction from The Standard as Cicada. This was where I went for a final supper before heading back to Bangkok. As mentioned earlier, the Hua Hin Night Market is open every night of the week while the Cicada Market is only open on weekend nights.
Returning from the Hua Hin Night Market was when I finally took a tuk-tuk ride — a far more exciting, open-air way to get back to The Standard than your average sedan.
The Standard, Hua Hin, features a variety of accessible guest rooms on the first floor of each of the main buildings. Lido, Lido Bar, Praca and the Juice Cafe are all accessible; though, I did not see a chair lift into the pool.
The Standard, Hua Hin, was a lovely, affordable way to spend two nights at the beach and cap off my trip to Thailand. The staff was warm and attentive, and the food and services offered here went above and beyond the price point.
It may not be as headline-grabbing as other hotels in The Standard portfolio of global properties. However, at these prices, it’s nice to see this brand have some budget-friendly rooms for those who have always wanted to see what the buzz is about.