Jun 29, 2020
WE SO DESPERATLY WANT TO LOVE Pattaya. It’s the closest and easiest beach destination from Bangkok, and sits on a chunk of coastline that sees some of the best sunsets in Central Thailand. But the city comes with baggage. Girly bars and dodgy back streets have brought a reputation that’s hard to scrub clean. It’s not all a bust, though; bypass the main drag for the golden beaches of Sattahip District, and you’ll find the ultra-modern, ultra-quiet pool villas of Mason Pattaya (masonpattaya.com; doubles from Bt26,000).
Descriptors like “sleek,” “stylishly minimal,” and “luxurious” are not often applicable to Pattaya, but Mason, which opened in January, happily defies the city’s stereotypes. Its 35 concrete-cube villas were designed by Bangkok-based studio VaSLab in a neo-Brutalist style that boldly contrasts against the lush seaside surroundings of quiet Na Jomtien beach. These angular, monolithic structures are an ode to Thai masonry, in particular the stone carvers of nearby Ang Sila Village, where the country’s ubiquitous stone mortar and pestle tools are said to have been born.
Throughout the multi-tiered, Gulf-of-Thailand–facing resort, there’s a three-element design aesthetic of wood, glass and natural light to complement the stone. Scandinavian minimalism meets Japanese Zen with polished wood floors and furniture, loft ceilings, rough-cut granite fixtures and diffused lighting. Sun-drenched terraces and private plunge pools are standard in all five villa types, so even though there’s a 12-meter Sky Pool at the center of the hotel and a stretch of clean beach out front, you might find yourself villa-bound more often than not. Still, Zila Street Bistro & Bar, the hotel’s main eatery, adjacent to the Sky Pool, is a decidedly tempting parking spot come sundown—and their local calamari is a great cocktail companion.
With a highly swimmable beach (unlike those of other go-to getaway Hua Hin) and a crowd that’s more your hip, in-the-know Bangkokian than your bawdy, sunburnt boozehound, Mason is a cool antidote to everything Pattaya— and makes a compelling case for a quick city escape.