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SO Sofitel Hua Hin Review – tranquil Cha am resort getaway

If you’re tired of the congestion and hectic pace of Bangkok, nearby Hua Hin has become one of the more popular places for a relaxing Thailand beach getaway. When SO Sofitel Hua Hin invited me up to check out their space, I was pretty excited not only to do a detailed hotel review for SO Sofitel Hua Hin, but also to revisit the Hua Hin district and see what the surrounding Cha am district had to offer.

My stay was sponsored by SO Sofitel Hua Hin but the views expressed here are all my own. You can check out their official website or head over to booking.com [affiliate link] for more information.

Location: charming Cha am

While Hua Hin is in its name, SO Sofitel Hua Hin is actually located 30 mins drive north of downtown Hua Hin (where the train station and main attractions are located) in an area known as Cha am. Cha am is the Thai locals getaway destination for beautiful beaches and cheap good seafood, the quieter and more relaxed cousin of increasingly popular and crowded Hua Hin. Check out my detailed guide to Cha am for more.

The good news is that you save 30 minutes getting to Cha am from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport as compared to Hua Hin. The bad news is that it’s still going to take a minimum of 3 hours to drive from the airport to SO Sofitel Hua Hin, which is longer than it takes to fly from Singapore to Bangkok, but hey you have to do a little bit of work if you want a real getaway from everyone right?

Getting from Bangkok to Cha am

SO Sofitel of course provides airport transfers from either Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) or Don Mueang Airport (DMK) to get you to the resort comfortably. More on their services here.

Cha Am Minivan Group Pic
To and from the airport in a mini van

If you are planning to spend more time in Thailand, the resort can also arrange a Bangkok-Hua Hin package that lets you stay in both SO Sofitel properties over 4 nights and shuttles you in between Bangkok, Cha am and airport.

If you are planning to self drive so you can explore the area around Cha am more easily, you could stop over at Samut Songkhram which is about halfway in between to stretch your legs and see the Tha Kha Floating Market or the famous Maeklong Train Market before continuing your journey. Read my Amphawa guide for more.

Amphawa Tha Kha Floating Market Overhead
Tha Kha Floating Market
Amphawa Mae Klong Train Market Approach
Mae Klong Train Market

What I did was request to stopover in Petchaburi along the way (about 45 minutes away from the resort) to see the palace and temples on the hill of Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park (Khao Wang), as well as the cave temple Tham Khao Luang. More in this list of things to do in Cha am!

Phetchaburi Tham Khao Luang Rays Buddha Me
Rays peeking in at Tham Khao Luang
Phetchaburi Khao Wang View Spires
Looking over the tree tops at Phra Nakhon Khiri aka Khao Wang

First impressions

SO Sofitel Hua Hin feels at first blush like idyllic palace gardens as you turn into its driveway, and at the entrance you’re suddenly dropped into a contemporary art museum with an expansive marble staircase welcoming you to the hotel. Check-in is done on top of the staircase, against the backdrop of a long pond feature that I only realised later actually sits atop a giant stone-covered wall that cuts through the heart of the resort.

SO Sofitel Hua Hin Reception Rabbit
A bit of an Alice in Wonderland vibe with a time-keeping rabbit
SO Sofitel Hua Hin Reception Stairs
Feels like the entrance of an art museum
SO Sofitel Hua Hin Reception Welcome Drink
Welcome drink in fancy china. I do love its main pond feature

One interesting note upon checking in – the hotel asks that you download the Handigo app to your phone. At first glance it seemed like a real hassle to do that just for a short stay, but this pocket concierge app is actually very useful and saves you the hassle of calling reception for everything you need. There is a chat function where you can ask questions about facilities or call for buggy service, and it listed the various facility opening hours and shuttle bus timings and you could make a booking directly through the app. This can all be done in English with less of the language barrier that can happen while talking on the phone.

SO Studio Room Review

We stayed in a SO Studio Room with a pool view and balcony – these are located on the 2nd and 3rd storeys of the buildings surrounding the Signature pool. Despite the modern museum-like facades and hallways, the rooms are quite warm, welcoming and comfortable with a nature theme.

SO Sofitel Hua Hin Studio Room Bed Couch
SO Sofitel Hua Hin Studio Room with balcony

I liked the spacious open layout, which is because they’ve eliminated most of the walls within the room – you can cordon off the bathroom area from the bedroom/living area with thick curtains for a bit of privacy. The toilet and the shower are on separate sides of the room – useful because two people can get ready at once, but if you’re someone who likes to swan around the bathroom like a naked queen, just know that the main doorway sits between the two areas so make sure no one is going to bust in halfway.

There is a separate cute round bathtub and shower with a bench, and right in the centre of the bathroom area is a multi-functional wardrobe + TV console that can swivel around so you can watch TV from the bathtub or the bedroom area. I only wish that there were more hooks around the room, but that’s because I don’t like keeping my clothes tucked away in a cupboard.

SO Sofitel Hua Hin Studio Room Bathroom
The shower and bathtub is on the left, toilet and sinks on the right while the main door is in the middle

The bed itself is large and comfortable – I quite like the wooden branch-like posts that added some design without blocking any light or making the bed feel boxed up, and I also appreciate there being both power points and USB ports on both sides of the bed. There was also a nice couch and balcony seats for chilling out, and a convenient rack to dry wet swimwear on.

SO Sofitel Hua Hin Studio Room Bed
The king-size bed. My friends were in the adjoining room which had connecting doors, super convenient for friend and family groups.
SO Sofitel Hua Hin Studio Room Balcony Chairs
Chilling on the balcony at sunrise. There’s a drying rack here too for wet swimwear and clothing

We were up on the 3rd level so a little stair climbing back to the room (no lifts!) but a bit more privacy since we were higher up, and a great view of the Signature pool and the giant Wibit inflatable obstacle course below. I thought it might get a bit noisy because of the pool but it remained surprisingly chill, even on the weekends.

SO Sofitel Hua Hin Studio Room Balcony Pool Sunrise
View from the balcony – the beach is to the left. The ground floor rooms are pool access rooms
SO Sofitel Hua Hin Studio Room Door
Cute chalk drawings welcome you to the room!

There are plenty of other room options available at SO Sofitel Hua Hin especially catered towards families – pool access rooms, rooms with attached kid’s houses and fun bunk beds and even feature a slide from the upper level. For those who want more privacy, there are villas with private pools close to the beach for some exclusivity as well.

Facilities in SO Sofitel Hua Hin

3 Swimming Pools

SO Sofitel Hua Hin has 3 pools to choose from for all your swimming needs. The main Signature pool has a large inflatable obstacle course running down the middle and is the most popular with guests, and especially those looking to have a bit of fun pretending they’re doing a Physical 100 course. Most of the seating and the shallow portion is at SO Sundae and there aren’t many deckchairs here unless you have a pool access room.

SO Sofitel Signature Pool Wibit
The Wibit and pool access rooms. The tent on the end is where SO Sundae and the Kid’s Tent are located
SO Sofitel Signature Pool Wibit Me
Me navigating the course! Fun for kids and adults

If you want a bit more quiet, the Solarium Pool is adults-only and located between the high walls that run down the centre of the resort. The Spa and Recreation Rooms are also located here and there are deckchairs for sunning.

SO Sofitel Solarium Pool
SO Sofitel Solarium Pool

And for the sound of the waves whiel you swim, there is the SO pool located between White Oven restaurant and the hotel’s beach area with more daybeds and deckchairs.

SO Sofitel SO Pool
SO Sofitel SO Pool

1 cosy Beach

SO Sofitel Hua Hin is technically a beachfront property and they do have a cute little beach area with deckchairs, swings and a huge tree for some shade that’s nice to chill out. However because the waves here can be quite strong and to prevent further erosion of the coast, there is a beach wall that separates the resort’s raised beach from the actual coastline. You can walk along this lower beach area when the tide is low, but keep an eye out do you don’t get stranded! There was a day the winds were pretty strong and those waves were lashing hard at high tide!

SO Sofitel Hua Hin Beach Deckchairs
Deckchairs and the Beach Society restaurant in the background. This pic was taken at high tide but when the tide is low there is more beach beyond the wall
SO Sofitel Hua Hin Beach Tree
Nice shady tree with a swing on the beach
SO Sofitel Hua Hin Beach Swing
Swinging on the beach
SO Sofitel Hua Hin Beach View
This small area without the beach wall is located between the resort and Tumlay Bar and Cafe next door
SO Sofitel Hua Hin Beach Hand Me
Why is there a giant hand in the sand? Who knows but it’s a lot of fun. You can see the gate of one of the pool villas in the background

Spa

SO Sofitel Hua Hin has its own spa and we indulged in a good Thai massage after a strenuous morning of hiking at Khao Nang Phanthurat. This is the first spa I’ve visited that lets you pick your own music to get massaged to! We had a Thai massage, though overall this Thai massage is more relaxing and not as body contorting as some of those that I’ve experienced in the past where the masseuses will really manoeuvre your body into all sorts of positions.

SO Sofitel Spa Drink
Welcome drink and towel
SO Sofitel Spa Room
Massage time!

Something a bit unusual in this spa is this cocoon-shaped deep relaxation area that you are escorted to after your massage. There are two beds in the cocoon where you can just lie down for awhile and enjoy the twinkling lights in the dark until you’re ready to change and exit.

SO Sofitel Spa Pod
The cocoon
SO Sofitel Spa Pod Inside
What it looks like when you’re lying down and chilling

Dining at SO Sofitel Hua Hin

SO Sofitel Hua Hin is home to two restaurants – White Oven and Beach Society. They also have a little cafe of sorts called SO Sundae next to the Signature pool where you can get drinks, cakes and ice cream.

White Oven

White Oven is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is quite a substantial buffet spread set up both in the indoor area and outdoor area for breakfast. There are stations for rice, noodle soup, western food, Thai food, salad stuff, yoghurts, breads, cereals, eggs, fruits and even a bagel bar. It really is quite a spread!

SO Sofitel White Oven Indoors
The indoor area of White Oven
SO Sofitel White Oven Outdoors
Outdoor area with the pool and beach view to the left. We sat outside most of the time because the weather was relatively cool, but beware of mosquitoes~
SO Sofitel White Oven Breakfast Eggs
Live station with a different egg of the day every morning
SO Sofitel White Oven Bagel Station
Bagel bar!

In the afternoons and evenings, you can get both Thai and Western food here. The restaurant is open until 11pm so it’s not a bad option for supper as well – I liked their Thai-style crab cakes and moo ping pork skewers. We also tried their premium Thai BBQ set for dinner on our first evening where a grill is set up at the table and you can cook your own meat and seafood right there. Since we were in Thailand I was half expecting a Mookata grill, but this is just an ordinary table top grill with a soup pot in the middle. Pretty filling dinner though I was hoping for more Thai seasoning overall.

SO Sofitel White Oven BBQ Meat
Yum~

On weekends, dinner selection includes your choice of live seafood as they have fishermen that bring their wares directly to the hotel in the late afternoon for guests wanting to eat Cha am’s famous seafood.

SO Sofitel White Oven Fishermen Lobster
Freshly caught lobster, crab and squid

Beach Society

Closer to the beach is SO Sofitel’s other restaurant known as Beach Society where you can dine on the sand if you want to. There is also a small bar here. The ambience of Beach Society is a little more chill and the menu features western-style cuisine like steak, pizza and pasta.

SO Sofitel Beach Society
SO Sofitel Hua Hin Beach Society

We ate lunch here during weekend brunch where the food was set up buffet style with an additional roast beef and raclette cheese station, and featured a fair amount of fresh seafood like oysters, lobster, crabs and shellfish.

SO Sofitel Beach Society Brunch Roast
Roast beef and raclette cheese
SO Sofitel Beach Society Oysters
Oysters!
SO Sofitel Beach Society Seafood Plate
My plate of seafood
SO Sofitel Beach Society Angel Hair Pasta
This crab angel hair pasta was pretty good

For dinner we tried out some of the cocktails and dishes from their menu. The cocktails could probably be a bit stronger, and food wise I really enjoyed the seafood – the salt-crusted fish was very plump and fresh. The Surf and Turf platter was a pretty substantial dish for sharing featuring lobster, prawns and steak – we were so stuffed after that though there was still room for dessert, like the cute coconut creme brulee served in an actual coconut.

SO Sofitel Beach Society Cocktails
Cocktails
SO Sofitel Beach Society Salt Baked Fish
Salt crusted whole fish
SO Sofitel Beach Society Coconut Creme Brulee
Subtle coconut flavour and some actual coconut flesh on top

Things to do around SO Sofitel Hua Hin

You could easily spend your entire holiday just chilling in the resort, but Cha am does have some interesting sights to see, and SO Sofitel Hua Hin has an Explorer program to help you easily explore some of the sights around Cha am and/or Hua Hin even if you don’t have your own car. More in my guide to Cha am and Hua Hin.

Sunset cocktails at Nayang Bat cave

Just 10 minutes away from SO Sofitel Hua Hin is a place known as Nayang Bat Cave. Amidst the village is a private house which set up a viewing platform that you can visit to see a natural nightly phenomenon where over 2 million tiny fruit bats were emerge from the cave in search of dinner.

Cha Am Nayang Bat Cave
Nayang Bat Cave – there is a larger cave entrance to the left and a smaller less obtrusive one to the right of it

You will need your own transport there, so the resort does organise an explorer excursion to see this which comes with 2-way shuttle transfer as well as snacks and drinks to consume while you wait for the sun to go down and the bats to emerge. Find out more.

Cha Am Nayang Bat Cave Binoculars
They provide binoculars for a closer look
Cha Am Nayang Bat Cave Refreshments
Sunset coconuts and cocktail finger food while waiting for the sun to go down

This is one of those things that’s a lot less exciting in pictures but a whole lot of wow when you see it in person. While it’s not a batman situation where the bats all emerge at once and blanket the sky, watching them stream out of their cave like smoke feels like watching NatGeo in real life. Hawks circle the bats as well and dive in to catch them, making the stream weave along with the wind. The bats eventually disperse and will even flit by you as they go in search of fruit trees.

Cha Am Nayang Bat Cave Stream
Cha Am Nayang Bat Cave Stream

Morning hike at Khao Nang Phanthurat Forest Park

Khao Nang Phanthurat is a forest park found on the slopes of two mountains Khao Chaolai and Khao Chomprasart which apparently looks like a giantess lying on her side from afar and perhaps how this park got its name. Nang Phanthurat is from a Thai folktale called Sang Thong, a giantess who could disguise as a human and adopted a human son who she hid her giantness from. Many of the viewpoints and sights around here are named after Nang Phanthurat.

Cha Am Khao Nang Panthurat Map
Our guide showing us the way
Cha Am Khao Nang Panthurat Bamboo Path
There was a bamboo section higher up, felt very martial arts moviesque

The park itself is a lovely place to hike, quite well maintained overall especially at the lower levels, though you should wear good shoes when you climb higher as the paved trails become sharp rocks the higher you go. Hiking sticks are also a good idea if you can to navigate the uneven terrain. The foliage changes as you climb higher, and the viewpoints of the surrounding countryside are quite nice, all in all it’s a nice and vigorous to spend a morning.

Cha Am Khao Nang Panthurat Thung Setti Viewpoint Me
At the Thung Setthi Viewpoint, apparently there were elephants in this area which according to the legend, were consumed by the giantess as snacks
Cha Am Khao Nang Panthurat Coconut Towel
Cold towel and coconut drink at the end of the hike!

SO Sofitel Hua Hin offers a shuttle service to Khao Nang Phanthurat where you can explore on your own, but also can organise a morning group or private tour with a guide that comes with water and hiking sticks, an ice cold fresh coconut drink and towel after the hike and even spa discounts so you can rub those aching muscles down after. Learn more about the Khao Nang Phanthurat Explorer Excursion.

regular Shuttles to hua Hin/Cha am

SO Sofitel Hua Hin has regular shuttles down to downtown Hua Hin (30-40 mins away) and Cha am Beach (10 mins away) so you can explore the area for 50-90 THB each way. You can book this shuttle through the Concierge app or at the front desk. This is also useful in the evenings if you plan to visit the night markets – Hua Hin has a daily night market while Cha am has one every Wednesday night. Learn more about their shuttle services.

Check out my guide to Hua Hin and Cha am to see what else you can explore in the area.

Hua Hin Night Market Seafood
Hua Hin Night Market for night market food and shopping is a fun way to spend an evening
Hua Hin Railway Station Platform
Hua Hin train station with the royal waiting room
Cha Am Beach Deckchair Row
Lovely Cha am Beach gets you closer to the shoreline and is a nice way to while away an afternoon

Cycling around the hotel

One interesting thing I noted as we turned into the hotel was the presence of cycling tracks along the main road that looked even newer than the actual road. Turns out that there are plans to boost tourism to this area and cycling tracks are a part of that larger plan.

Cha Am Road Cycling Tracks
Cha Am Road Cycling Tracks

You can rent bicycles at SO Sofitel Hua Hin to cycle around Cha Am, and the resort has even planned out a cycling route that takes you north of the hotel – however the end point of the route is about 17km away and takes roughly 2 hours to cycle according to the bike rental desk. Also, most of the sights to see are only after that first 10km so you may want to check whether it’s possible to arrange for a car/van to get you past that first bit so it’s less arduous.

SO Sofitel Bicycles Stairs
All biked up and ready to go!

I woke up bright and early to see how far I could push – I made it as far as what’s marked as the ‘Shrimp Pond’ on the map which is about 3km from the hotel. Decided to turn off the road and explore this mysterious looking lake of sorts and found it a lot smaller than marked out (could have dried up a little? My map markers had me in the middle of the lake lol). Those roads were also sandy and unpaved so that wore me out, and it was starting to get really hot (no cloud cover at all!)

Cha Am Lake Shore
Shrimp pond? Private reservoir? Who knows?

SO Sofitel does have it own cycling paths within the compound if you aren’t so ambitious and just want to get some exercise, or you have little ones having a go on the mini cars/bikes that they also rent out. There is a nice garden just opposite the entrance that you can cycle in as ewll.

SO Sofitel Bicycle Track
Garden route

Overall thoughts

SO Sofitel Hua Hin is a really lovely hotel if you want a restful vacation somewhere quieter and don’t mind that it takes a bit of effort to get here. It’s a property that you could easily spend all your time in if you were feeling lazy – nice modern design and the hotel grounds are expansive enough that it never felt too crowded even on the weekends.

SO Sofitel Mini Golf Course
We didn’t get the change to play the 18 hole mini golf course!

I stayed at the hotel for 3 nights with a group of girl friends and we had a lot of fun. It’s not somewhere I’d stay on my own as an indie traveller but it’s definitely suitable for couples, friend groups and families. The vibe and facilities are all quite family friendly with enough activities to entertain both kids and adults around the resort.

SO Sofitel Rabbit Lawn Chess
Rabbits are a running theme through the hotel’s decor

Cha am town may not be at the hotel’s doorstep if you’re someone who likes to walk around on your own, but the daily shuttle services to nearby Cha am and the more lively Hua Hin give some exploration options, or you can always arrange for an excursion or a driver to bring you around.

My stay was sponsored by SO Sofitel Hua Hin but the views expressed here are all my own. You can check out their official website or head over to booking.com [affiliate link] for more information.


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