Hotels & Resorts

Review: SO/ Sofitel Hua Hin, Thailand

This maximalist design wonderland on the Gulf of Thailand makes good on the promise of an “imaginative escape” for families.

Party in private pool, SO Sofitel Hua Hin

Party in private pool

By R.C. Owen

Jun 14, 2022

ONCE UPON A TIME in the late aughts, the property known as Sofitel SO/ Hua Hin was a minimalist design resort with lots of angles and edges. Envisioned by lauded architect Duangrit Bunnag, it was an industrial haven for Bangkok hipsters seeking a child-free escape from the city. 

Today, this waterfront property in Cha-am (a smidge closer to Bangkok than Hua Hin city is) has a totally different mojo. Just like with many of its former guests, it has gotten softer ’round its edges and morphed into a more pillowy, relaxed, and family-friendly version of itself. And far from being child-free, it’s actually kind of a kid magnet. 

Your first clue that SO/ is the more whimsical sort of seaside retreat is the giant white rabbit in the driveway. It’s the largest of many on-property bunnies that carry the Lewis Carroll theme throughout SO/ Hua Hin, alongside other cute design quirks. The look is still sleek and chic, but flamboyant fabrics and woodland critters are never far away.

Our SO Family Kids House was especially fun. It featured an eight-square-meter kids’ cubby annexed off the main room, with supersized bunk beds, polka-dot duvets, teddies, and a TV. It was a cool little space I would’ve loved to stay in myself, just a few short decades ago. If we’d had more kids, we might have opted for the equally fun SO Family Suite, which gives you two full-sized bedrooms—or even the One- and Two-Bedroom SO Pool villas, which have their own pool and more than 215 square meters of space. (Not that space is an issue anywhere here, since the smallest rooms start at 56 square meters.)

My hot tip for accommodation: families who are serious about pool time should opt for the SO Comfy Pool Access or So Lofty Pool Access rooms, which run along the long edges of the “big pool.” Even considering the usual caveats involving children and water, these rooms are a strategic win if you have small humans who want to spend all their waking hours in the pool. 

SO Family SO Arty Style, SO Sofitel Hua Hin thailand review
SO Family SO Arty Style with supersized bunk beds, polka-dot duvets
SO Lofty Pool Access, SO Sofitel Hua Hin thailand review
SO Lofty Pool-Access room

Big humans, too, might fall for the allure of the SO/ Sofitel Hua Hin pool scene. The big pool is actually HUGE—60×16 meters—and has a Wibit floating obstacle course running almost its full length. Together with the adjoining Sundae Bar (ice cream, snacks, and, importantly, booze) and Kids Tent (arts, crafts and games), this forms the locus of family fun at SO/, virtually every hour it’s open (a lengthy 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., 9 p.m. on Saturdays). 

The weekend we were there it rained almost non-stop, which did nothing to dampen the action at the Wibit. Kids, with their lithe, bendy limbs and low centers of gravity, were able to get all the way across and back again repeatedly without too much trouble, even in the drizzle. Parents on the Wibit wiped out almost constantly, but all that did was multiply the entertainment value.  

Away from the Wibit and the big pool, SO/ Hua Hin offers an exhaustive list of activities that you don’t have time to fully appreciate in one weekend. On the complimentary side of things there’s cycling around the resort’s 2.2-kilometer track (a popular sunset activity), pickleball, tennis, and SO Wonderland Adventure Golf—18 holes that see you putting beneath a gigantic spider, through tunnels, and over streams (or into them, if you’re me). 

Signature Pool and Wibit, SO Sofitel Hua Hin Thailand review
Pool and Wibit

For non-complementary fun, we opted for a SO Sofa ride—an hour of zipping up and down the coastline on a blow-up “sofa” towed by a jet-ski (Daughter’s favorite activity of the weekend). There are also banana-boat rides, 20-plus-kilometer cycling excursions (GM Shubham Chandra’s personal pick), and local culture tours.

SO/ Sofitel Hua Hin—importantly—also gives you the chance to spend quality time apart. The fully supervised Kids Tent (open 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.) gives four-to-10 year-olds crafty ways to escape their guardians, with daily art classes (fees apply), plus free books, toys, Lego, games, and movies. Children under four can attend with an adult — or you can hire a sitter for Bt400 per hour.

Kids Tent, SO Sofitel Hua Hin Thailand review
Kids tent

In our parental downtime, Husband and I hit SO Spa for a 60-minute couple’s massage. That single blessed hour in the cool, scented, silent air of the spa, was probably my favorite “activity” and it was made all the more relaxing knowing our daughter was safe with Khun Puisun and the rest of the Kids Tent ambassadors. It was the family-holiday hack we didn’t know we needed. 

Another highlight was being able to collectively enjoy meals. To elaborate: Husband and I could take our time eating and drinking, while the resort’s open layout meant Daughter could roam and play in the sand or on the lawn within our line of sight. This is honestly every parent’s simple wish for holidays/life: the ability to disengage helicopter mode once in a while. 

SPA SO Cocoon Relaxation Area, SO Sofitel Hua Hin Thailand review
SPA SO Cocoon relaxation area

On the topic of food, we all appreciated the effort SO/ makes to keep kids happy. The Sundae Bar with its ice cream and other sweets was an obvious hit, and a kids’ menu across the other two outlets hit all the high notes for the under-12 set i.e., nuggets, spaghetti, fried rice, fish n’ chips. Meanwhile, we felt suitably indulged by Western/Italian cuisine at the Beach Club and Saturday night’s shabu-style wagyu meat-a-thon at White Oven Restaurant.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for Shibuya toast at the After You pop-up on the waterfront, or a family-style Thai meal at White Oven, but as I say to Daughter when she starts pining for the SO Sofa: I’m sure there’ll be a next time.; SO Comfy room from Bt3,600 per night; the Family Fun at SO/ Sofitel Hua Hin package starts from Bt4,550 per night and includes daily breakfast at White Oven for 2 persons, Bt500 dining credit, Bt500 SO/ Spa credit, and 50% discount on food and non-alcoholic beverages at SO Sundae OR kids’ activities at Kids Tent.

All photos courtesy of SO Sofitel Hua Hin.

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