Let’s be honest: Hua Hin isn’t necessarily the most ideal holiday destination for couples or solo travellers. While the beach town makes for one of the most convenient staycations for those of us who live in Bangkok and a perfect side trip for visitors to the capital city, most of the facilities offered by five-star hotels here cater to families. On our search for the most private, exclusive properties in Hua Hin, we’re glad to say that we’ve found THE BARAI, a world-class destination resort that’s uniquely built in Khmer-inspired architecture which looks straight off a postcard.

Location

The Barai Hua Hin

A temple of sanctuary that pays tribute to the beauty and purpose of ancient Khmer aquifers, THE BARAI is located on more than 4.5 acres of serene beach adjacent to the Hyatt Regency Hua Hin. Here, you can choose to stay in a deeply healing environment as you embark on a personal wellness journey, or check out the weekend vibes in this part of town at the popular Cicada Market next door.

Rooms

The Barai Suite

THE BARAI houses eight private residential suites ranging in size from 126 to 149 square metres, including four pool suites on the ground floor and four balcony suites on the upper floor. Both suite room types feature an oversized king bed, individual walk-in closets, vanity area, private spa treatment and dining area. Each one has its own charm: the pool suites offer a veranda with a private plunge pool and tropical garden, while the balcony suites have a generously sized balcony and spectacular panoramic views of the Gulf of Thailand. We stayed at the latter, and were impressed by all the details and thoughtfulness put into the design of the room.

The Barai Suite

The first thing that stood out was the tailor-made, specially designed bed that measures 3m x 2m. One of the only eight beds of this size in the world, even a family with two kids would probably find the bed spacious. We’ve had many good night sleeps at five-star hotels, but none can compare to the supreme comfort of this plush bed — it has the magic to make a morning person sleep through the alarm.

Another feature that we loved was the soaking tub placed next to the bed, which resembles a Moroccan hammam made with tadelakt, a waterproof natural limestone finish that remains cool in hot water. On both sides of the bath tub you’ll find a Thai bed area for relaxation and traditional Thai massage for private spa indulgence.

A stay at the luxurious residential spa accommodation comes with several exclusive benefits, including a personalised butler service, a complimentary 60-minute massage at the spa for two persons per night (a choice of Swedish massage, Thai foot reflexology, muscle relief massage, aromatherapy massage and traditional Thai massage), in-suite aromatherapy steam and milk bath, daily breakfast, all-day hot and cold beverages, and pre-dinner drinks and snacks at the hotel’s restaurant, McFarland House.

Dining

McFarland House

McFarland House, an all-day dining venue at THE BARAI, is an old two-storey pavilion on the beachfront that dates back to the 19th century. Restored and transformed into an elegant and breezy casual dining area, the restaurant offers an ambient setting with 180-degree views of the Gulf of Thailand. Serving modern European cuisine along with healthy options, McFarland House’s menu is varied and extensive. We especially liked the delicious Detox Bowl from the a la carte breakfast menu, which consists of quinoa, almond milk pudding, flaxseed, blueberries, kiwi fruit, dragon fruit and goji berries.

For lunch and dinner, Hua Hin’s seafood offerings are not to be missed: try the ‘Sand & Surf’, a selection of roasted local sea bass, grilled jumbo tiger prawns, seared scallops, roast garlic butter, fresh local herbs, and McFarland salad, or the ‘Local Connection’, a flavourful combination of pan-fried local sea bass, braised fennel, tomato, Hua Hin clams, shellfish emulsion and citrus oil.

McFarland House meal

If you’re staying for the weekend, we highly recommend trying the Sunday brunch, which is arguably the best in town given the quality of food, live music performance and buffet layout. The highlights of the brunch selection are the unlimited made-to-order premium items, such as truffle risotto, pan-fried foie gras, Italian cold cuts and cheese. We were especially impressed by the excellent selections of Thai and Western salads, fresh oysters, and the varieties of live cooking stations.

Health & Wellness

Wellness at The Barai

Inspired by the Bayon Temple in Cambodia’s Angkor, the design of THE BARAI Spa echoes the beauty of Khmer aquifers. These man-made reservoirs were created by the Khmers to channel irrigated water for daily use, and believed to be the life arteries of the empire, as a source of life, wellbeing and healing. Centred around water, the luxury spa follows the same purpose, featuring an extensive range of authentic therapies and signature massages inspired by the traditions of ancient Thai health rituals combined with the best of Western therapies.

Each of the 18 single and double treatment rooms boasts an outdoor relaxation area surrounded by exotic red clay walls with a private soaking pool, a rain shower, and a Thai day-bed enclave for traditional Thai treatments. The hydrotherapy treatment takes place in one of the three double rooms featuring a Vichy treatment room and steam room. We tried the THE BARAI Blend Massage, a traditional Thai massage combined with Swedish and aromatherapy massage techniques. While it might sound complicated at first, we found the long flowing palm strokes and acupressure along the meridian lines integrated with gentle stretching particularly effective to relieve tired muscles.

Wellness at The Barai

On top of a full selection of signature spa treatments, THE BARAI has taken a holistic approach to mind, body and spirit with The Lifestyle Collection, offering five goal-orientated, full board healthy lifestyle programmes that target three pillars of health: nutrition, relaxation and exercise. Each designed to help guests achieve life-changing health and fitness results, the wellness programmes include: ‘Ultimate Unwind’, a deeply nurturing experience focusing on stress release; ‘Bespoke Yoga Journey’, a total mind-body workout that helps to increase flexibility, build muscle strength and boost immunity; ‘Vital Body Cleanse’, a programme of detoxifying body therapies and thermal treatments; ‘Dynamic Fitness Kick-starter’, a series of personal training sessions to help you reach your specific fitness goals; and ‘Healthy Weight Kick-starter’, a personalised programme promoting a balanced approach for a long-term lifestyle change. Ranging from three to seven days, every programme starts with a healthy lifestyle consultation by a certified health expert and an InBody Technology test, which provides a comprehensive overview of body composition balance.

Verdict

Whether you’re a health-conscious individual looking to step up your fitness regime or simply looking for a wellness escape, THE BARAI has got the top-notch facilities and hospitality to make you feel at home as you indulge in its five-star spa, exclusive suites and outstanding dining venue, all set in a prime location next to the beach. THE BARAI has become a solid reason for us to return to Hua Hin, given its privacy and bespoke services that set it apart from the mostly family-oriented properties in the area.