Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin is a little bit of an old school institution in
this part of Thailand. Set in an original colonial-style railway station, it is just a couple of hours away from Bangkok and has seemed to have developed a reputation for being a refuge for western retirees and the rare long-term staying hotel guests looking for fun in Hua Hin.
Despite its awkward guest mix and museum-esque interiors, it still manages to hold up to the standard of international hotel chains sprouting up along the sandy beaches of Hua Hin.
Opening its doors in the 1920s, this was the original railway station. Now completely restored, the lobby, restaurants, bars and landscapes are gorgeous; throughout its gardens you will find a plethora of expertly trimmed hedges in shapes of animals indigenous to Thailand. Majority of the interiors exudes old-world colonial charm with off-white tiles and effective use of solid timber beams which add to the charming aesthetic.
A beach front property, the resort also boasts multiple swimming pools and relaxation zones. It goes without saying that there is never a dull moment at Centara Grand.
One can very easily spend hours, strolling through the compound, discovering different nooks and crannies; perhaps stumbling across a couple of welcoming hammocks enroute to yet another swimming pool or small cafe for that midday soiree. Marvelous.
While good maintenance may have helped the resort withstand the test of time; the main buildings and restaurants having been immaculately preserved and restored, less can be said about the rest of the compound, certain areas definitely showed signs of decline and age; hidden nooks in the hotel were converted into mattress storage areas and there were dark corridors aplenty due to malfunctioning light bulbs.
Colonial design with all the comforts of modern living. Standard rooms are decently spacious with expansive balcony views overlooking the central courtyard. The bedding, however, was set particularly high for some unknown reason.
Food and drink
A myriad of restaurants reside throughout the resort. Making a beeline to Suan Bua, the resort’s high-end local restaurant, we were surprised to find it rather empty even though the club lounge was thoroughly packed just hours before.
Suan Bua is a gem of a restaurant set within the villa compound at Centra Grand
Food at Suan Bua couldn’t have been better! Ordering up a luxurious spread of royal Thai dishes, the food was expertly prepared and service was spectacular in every way.
The pineapple fried rice, pomelo salad and soft shell crabs were particularly delicious. Expert Thai cuisine has always been described as an intricate balance between sweetness, aromatics and chili spices. This was omnipresent at Suan Bua.
Breakfast was a standard spread with some local injections. The smoothie corner was particularly good serving up great low-calorie blends.
The club lounge offers superb cocktail hour beverages
Despite the maintenance oversight and the occasional appearance of elderly white guys with a couple of insatiable young local girls.
Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin remains a classic resort institution in Hua Hin with excellent food, superior service and sets the standard for colonial hotel design which will continue to stand the test of time for many years to come