Right then, finally got around to finishing off our review of O'Tool's in Phuket and as always a sneak preview:
We do long term stays and arrange private rates directly with the hotel. That is why we will not refer to price paid for a room in our reviews, but it is always well below advertised, on line or walk-in rack rates. We stayed 20 nights on this occasion.
As ever, feel free to contact us directly for further questions or check out our Blog (www.ktelontour.blogspot.com) for more on the accommodation, including pictures and what we’ve done in the area or just to relieve the boredom in the office…
Landing at Phuket airport from Bangkok (the flight takes an hour and a half with Air Asia and is a doddle) you will be pounced on by all manner of keen locals to offer you a lift to your destination. You have a few options:
- a minibus shared with like-minded travellers, which will cost ~THB 150 per person and takes you to all the hotels given by your companions, thus making it a long transfer of around an hour and a half (which coincidentally is the length of the flight from the capital to the coast).
- a private limo style car which is around ~THB 650 to THB 800
- a Meter Cab, which will set you back about THB 500
If you fancy the last option, exit the airport, beat off all offers from long lost friends of alternative lifts, and turn right towards a small hut at the corner of the building. Grab a number, wait until it’s called out and then go back to the person in the hut (who originally gave you your queuing number) and tell them your destination. They’ll advise you of the price and give you a receipt/docket, which you pass onto the cab driver.
You pay the driver at the end of the trip and make sure the meter is switched on before you set off. It will take an hour or so to Karon Beach.
All prices are in Thai Baht (THB) and at the time we were getting around THB 49-50 to the British pound.
Thriving with all predictable attractions a popular tourist destination should offer. Supermarkets, banks, ATMs, Bureau de Change, hotels, guest houses, bars, diners, restaurants, pubs- the whole shooting match. You won’t get bored, but perhaps jaded with having to work out where to eat and drink every day.
It looks exactly as an Irish Bar should and is located a mere five minute stroll to the beach which is divine. Warm, clear waters with boisterous waves and surf which meet the clean, almost white, scorching sands.
Plenty big, airy and bright. Simply laid out with fridge, cable TV (at the time of writing a couple of local channels plus two movie options and BBC World), manually operated air conditioning and free wi-fi. Large wardrobe, big work top/surface for setting up the laptop and two bedside tables and lights. They even provide a laundry basket.
Comfortably firm double bed, but the bedside lights can only be switched off from one side of the bed (pain). Good overhead lighting though.
The bathroom is unfortunately a wet room but with a better lay out than usual. The sink is housed in the centre and almost closes off the toilet and shower, so that this prevents everything from getting soaked.
Toilet flushed well, the sink was a fair size (with enough space around it to allow toiletries to be placed there) and it offered both hot and cold running water, as did the shower. Plenty of hot water every time we wanted some, although the cold water feed stutters, resulting in hot and cold flushes at times. It keeps you on your toes but should be looked into.
Another bonus is that there is a power socket for your shaver or toothbrush to recharge and the wardrobe contains an electronic safe (use three numbers and either A or B to set).
We also had a small balcony which gave us a lovely view of the Big Buddha on the Hill and the large hotel opposite. Ask for the "Centara" if your taxi driver is unsure of where O’Tool’s is.
- Good internet connection, when working. Periods of drop out and locking for no reason and the company had to be called out on a couple of occasions to rectify the problems.
- Comfortably firm, large bed, with just a sheet to cover. It will be more than enough as we had temperatures of around 33-35 C most days.
- Location is bang on, right in the heart of things.
- Very lively pub downstairs offering traditional pub grub, Brit ales and stouts and live music a couple of times during the week.
- Most major sporting events are shown on a large projection screen and they are big into English football.
- Clean, comfortable and light rooms.
- Very reasonable prices. The air con didn’t function on our first day of arrival and they couldn’t get it working until the next day. They gave us an electric fan and waived the first night’s fee.
- Staff are very efficient, friendly and helpful.
- Very good air con in the rooms.
- Electric kettle in room for tea/coffee.
- DVD player in all rooms
- Free, daily bottled water (and chocolates most days too).
- Internet signal failed frequently.
- TV transmission hit and miss.
- Noisy when live acts are playing in the bar and they usually go on until gone 01:00.
- Eager Housekeeping that ignore "Do Not Disturb" signs.
- No lift and only steep stairs- they have five floors.
If you’re a Brit looking for a pad to crash that reminds you of home, you’ll be very happy and comfortable here. Ex-pat types will engage you in conversation, the sight and smells of the home-cooked food will have you thinking of your mum, and the traditional beers and drinks will keep you in good cheer as you support your favourite football team. The only hint of Thailand will be the bar staff who are plentiful and always happy to help.
And therein lies the problem for me. It’s just far too British to consider yourself to be on an exotic foreign holiday. Not only that, but that goes for Karon as a whole. It is way too touristy and familiar, which is a great pity as the sun, temperatures beach and water are all superb.
However, if that’s what you like, and it must be to take a holiday here, you’ll love it.
One word about the prices in the bar/dining area. Expensive. One always expects to pay more for imported beers and at THB 210 for a pint of Guinness, that’s almost as much as back in the UK. But even the local brews are top end of the price scale and so we usually drank elsewhere where our Baht stretched further. Ditto the price of the food. If you like typical western fare you’ll get high quality but again, at a premium price. This may have a bearing on where you dine and vegetarians barely get a look in. Even the traditional curry night ignored this option, which is a big oversight in my vegetarian wife's opinion.
Again, I’m not a huge fan of the beach preferring cities and towns. However, our holiday has been a relaxing time and we’ve enjoyed everything the place has offered us over our three week stay. The accommodation is of a high standard and O’Tool’s has thought of pretty much anything a holiday maker could need for a pampered stay.
We are due back in May to meet old friends and hopefully, with many of the tourists absent as it’s off season, we may see the other side of Karon.
No doubt Brendan will point out all of my errors now. :o)