Stylist contributor Juliet Kinsman heads to Thailand to experience one of the most spectacular swimming pools in the world
It’s one of my fondest tropical holiday memories: splashing around in blood-red water in Thailand. Great. Now you have me pegged as a character from the mind of Bret Easton Ellis, author of American Psycho – not the dream person to navigate you round a romantic design hotel in paradise. Thankfully, it wasn’t the actual H2O that was ruby-red as we swam inches from the ocean. Creating that crimson tide at The Library in Koh Samui are hand-laid mosaic amber- and claret-coloured tiles in their already-iconic pool. Now we’re talking, right? Book-ended by powdery white sand and sleek cutting-edge suites and villas, a dip at The Library is framed only by sleek decking and bold parasols and the Gulf of Thailand in panorama.
True to its name, books abound at The Library: over 1,400 publications are lined up neatly in an all-white air-conditioned space overlooking the water. It’s less an intriguing place of reading though, and more a playground for European creatives and well-to-do Asian families. Which is good, since the last place we’d want to spend our holidays is anywhere where we’re going to be shushed in a matronly fashion. Instead, relax in groomed Kermit-the-Frog-green grounds and hunker down in breezy relaxation spaces, where kayaks and windsurfing equipment will get you out onto the open waters.
Full disclosure: Chaweng Beach is not a destination instantly linked with culture and calm. I stayed in the most basic of shacks along this beach a couple of decades ago for a few baht a night, and this southern swathe of Thailand’s second largest island has since had one hell of an amp-up. Still, just off the main neon-sign-dotted artery predictably awash with hawkers and lairy bars (The Library is on Samui’s buzziest stretch of beach, a 10-minute taxi ride from the airport), this is still an assuredly sophisticated experience. I’d even dare declare it an oasis, even if it is an ashamed writer’s cliché.
Holidaying with tomorrow’s Ernest Hemingway or EL James – they really could be there plotting on the pool-side beanbags – means being open to more book themery. The 46 monochrome shiny-floored suites are referred to as ‘pages’; there’s a Bookmark suite with views of the sea and pool from its bed; and next month sees the launch of new Secret Pool Villas. Sign me up for a stay in The Writer, an exclusive-use villa bang on the beach. And if a whirl there doesn’t get your creative juices flowing? Take a seat at the Drink Gallery, which has over 20 signature cocktails on the menu and lets you custom make your own Pad Thai. Amble along the beach to Eat Sense for a low-key Thai supper right on the sand: Pla Tod Ta Krai is their speciality, garlicky deep-fried fish with kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass. Or stray to Bophut, a 15-minute drive north, for a contemporary spin on Thai flavours at Karma Sutra, a rustic restaurant in the Fisherman’s Village.
Back to that pool… An additional red lap pool has also been added recently for more scarlet-splashing opportunities. And with pseudoscience decreeing that a red-themed Instagram post is most likely to elicit likes, it’s hard to imagine a bigger hit on your social feed than this.
Double rooms at The Library, Koh Samui, Thailand, start at £247 per night, including breakfast; Secret Pool Villas from £671; thelibrarysamui.com