In 1923 an enterprising Siamese prince built the ornate Railway Hotel on a virgin beach at the barely-known village of Hua Hin. Fast-forward almost a century and today the prince’s hotel is still there, easily recognizable (if much expanded) and now known as the Centara Grand Hua Hin Beach Resort & Villas.
Where is Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin?
Right on the beachfront at Hua Hin, 200 km southwest of Bangkok on the “sunrise side” of the Gulf of Thailand. The resort stands just a few blocks from Hua Hin’s historic railway station that gave the hotel its original name.
First Impressions of Centara Grand Beach Resort
Space and grace. With 13 vast hectares of grounds surrounding this long-limbed, colonial-style structure, you know you’re in for something truly different.
The elegant sea-facing resort, complete with white louvres, fans and armies of gardeners, features a real scene-stealer in its grounds — a grand topiary garden populated by a motionless stampede of arboreal elephants, giant rabbits and green giraffes.
What are the rooms like?
There is a range of rooms and suites in various layouts, spanning from the original (and impeccably upgraded) colonial-style accommodation of the Railway Wing to the contemporary configurations of the later wings.
If you love heritage, go for a Railway Wing suite with its French windows, teak floors, shaded balcony, walk-in dressing room and a marble-floored bathroom with classic, clawfoot tub.
The food at Centara Grand Beach Resort
The Centara is serious about quality dining in its five outlets. At the Suan Bua Thai restaurant, go for the crabmeat with glass noodles, plus steamed prawns with lemongrass.
The Palm Seafood Pavilion does a very good char-grilled salmon and tartlet of grilled vegetables.
Meanwhile, the venerable Museum lounge, all wicker whatnots, palms and tessellated marble, dishes a daily afternoon High Tea of sandwiches and killer scones. Kick on to the seafront Palm Terrace for sundowners.
By night the themed Railway Restaurant features both Thai and Western mains, with especially good pasta. Come morning, its breakfast is one of the most elaborate in the Kingdom.
For a last supper (so to speak) sample an eclectic combo of sashimi and flash teppanyaki at the Hagi Japanese restaurant.
Centara Grand Beach Resort – The Lowdown
If you have a taste for history, this place delights and intrigues. (Don’t miss the hotel’s excellent history tour, an informed, easy amble around the grounds and the railway precinct.)
If you’re simply after a very superior beachfront retreat that’s beautifully insulated from the world outside, again, you’re on a winner. (The beach at your doorstep is kept free of the rental chairs, touts and jet-skis that plague other popular beaches.)
Golfing, too, is very big at the resort and in the surrounding province.
John Borthwick was a guest of Centara Grand Hua Hin and the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin is located at 1 Damnernkasem Road, Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan, 77110, Thailand.
Tel: +66 (0) 3251 2021-38
How to get to Centara Grand Beach Resort
The drive from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport takes three hours, while trains run to Hua Hin from Bangkok’s Hualamphong station. There is no regular air service, but a good, daily ferry across the Gulf from Pattaya is now available.
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