The veranda of a D-Bok room at The Slate in Phuket (Photo: The Slate)
Thailand has a reputation as a backpackers paradise, but the country actually offers holidays to suit all budgets.
Phuket, in the south, offers a number of beaches and resorts, as well as some of the country’s tackier strips. Patong’s ‘ping pong’ cabaret bars have somewhat tarnished the island’s reputation in some eyes. For those seeking to recalibrate their viewpoint, head instead for The Slate in north Phuket (just a ten-minute drive from the local airport – and around 45 minutes north of Patong).
Tin mining history
This noted resort has around 180 rooms and 7 villas. It was opened around 30 years ago by the Na-Roong family. The family’s wealth came from tin mining, and Phuket was once the tin mining center of Southeast Asia.
The resort was formerly known as Indigo Pearl, but in 2007, it was given an extensive overhaul. Current owners Wichit Na-Ranong and his daughter, Prakaikaew (Krystal), recruited acclaimed architect Bill Bensley. They specifically wanted a hotel that played on the area’s heritage and their own family’s business interests.
The Slate exploits that history in its design. Spread out over 35 acres, the exteriors of the building can feel a little ‘post-apocalyptic bunker’. However, the interiors have been meticulously crafted to the finest detail.
Rooms are a combination of concrete, wood and floor-to-ceiling glass doors. My room had a huge bathroom with a walk-in shower and double sinks. There was an outdoor bath in my own little garden, secluded from my neighbors.
The garden also had a very comfortable bed for daytime lounging. However, do spray yourself with insect repellent. Mosquitoes are common here, and the hotel’s many water features – although a nice idea – don’t help keep the numbers down in outdoor areas.
A huge and heavy door on a sliding brass rail separated the bathroom from the bedroom (curtain partitions shield the toilet – fortunately much easier to close!).
Carrying over the ‘tin mine’ feel, details include rivets in tables, and old pipework and fittings for the shower head and taps. Think steampunk with a Thai twist.
The industrial aesthetic runs throughout, from the chunky metal bottles for shower gel and shampoo, to the specially commissioned ‘screw head’ cutlery. In fact, so much of the homeware was designed specifically for the hotel, it’s available to purchase in a store at reception.
The Slate boasts several restaurants. Black Ginger is its signature evening dining destination. The venue is surrounded by water. A little like crossing the river Styxx, a ferryman pulls a raft across to carry you to the bar and restaurant.
It’s a nice ‘oh wow’’ novelty although I did feel a little sorry for the poor guy whose job it was to drag tourists from one side of the man-made float to another!
Inside the restaurant, in fitting with its name, everything is black: wood panelling, cushions, tables… you get the picture. The food, thankfully, is anything but monochrome. I dined on a smorgasbord of Thai delights. These included Gai Yang chicken, Phuket fish cake, Gaeng Liang Goong herb soup with shrimps, and a creamy fish with red curry sauce called Chu Chee Pla.
Other amenities include three swimming pools (two of which are adult only), a cocktail bar, other restaurants such as the Japanese-inspired Rivet, plus a gym and spa. It’s also next to Nai Yang Beach, should you want to dip in the sea.
Things to do at The Slate
The Slate offers a daily menu of different activities, including cookery classes and excursions. It’s difficult to imagine anyone getting bored. Don’t fancy walking around the complex in the heat? No worries: Just call for one of the many golf buggies whirring around the site to come and pick you up.
For those yearning to explore the wider region, I recommended a trip to Sukko Spa Resort. This offers a huge number of massage therapies an treatments. There’s also the hipster shopping on offer in old Phuket, plus an elephant sanctuary where you can get up close to rescued animals.
However, if the weather’s as humid as it was during my visit, you’ll soon yearn to return to your lovely cool room or sink into that outdoor bath.
The Slate room rates start at 13,000 Thai baht ($400/€340) per night.