The Barai, Hua Hin
The Barai in Hua Hin is one of our favourite spas. In fact, if there is a better spa, we haven't come across it (although we are open to suggestions). The architecture is stunning - a cool, cocooning palace in dusky terracotta tones. The architect plays with the abundant tropical sunlight using apertures in the walls to create a delightful range of effects. Approaching the spa through the main entrance feels like entering Wonderland for the first time as Alice, and new wonders await round every turn as you gradually lose your bearings. In the centre of the spa is a tranquil decorative pool set within a galleried courtyard, suffused with sunlight. The Barai has a number of single and double suites which vary slightly in their facilities and size but are all gorgeous (see below). The therapists are the most intuitive and caring we've ever experienced.
As for those facilities, the Barai offers separate day spas for men and women, with a relaxation lounge, sauna and steam room. The tranquility court is a beautiful space set within very high walls with a great view of the Gulf of Thailand at one end which is open: here yoga and tai chi take place each morning on one side of the 30m long, black stone swimming pool. The tranquility court is available for resident guests of the Barai, which offers 2 categories of residential spa suite. We have rarely seen anyone in the tranquility pool, so staying in the Barai provides you with almost a private pool. A number of other benefits come with staying in the Barai, including breakfast and evening cocktails and canapés in McFarland House - see dining on Hyatt Regency Hua Hin review for pictures.
The Barai offers a range of treatments, including those using the American premium spa brand Kerstin Florian. As a benefit of staying in certain rooms (Barai suites, club deluxe rooms and suites), guests receive a complementary massage in the Barai choosing from a list including swedish, aromatherapy, Thai reflexology, muscle relief or the traditional Thai massage. There is also the option to pay a surcharge to enjoy other treatments on the menu, such as facials or the signature relaxing Thai herbal compress massage.
We have tried a number of treatments at the spa, from aromatic scrubs under the Vichy shower (think 8 showers at once, each aimed at a different part of the body under which you lie on a massage bed), each kind of massage, facials and baths. For a special occasion, we strongly recommend the Element Journey, which starts with a hot bath outside before being followed by your choice of 3.5 hours treatment - we chose the Vichy shower scrub, a 90 minute 4-hand massage and a facial - incredibly relaxing and good value at Baht 7000++. This package also included a delicious light meal served at McFarlane House.
The Barai residences are split into two categories: balcony or pool suites. The balcony suites are located above the pool suites and the internal space is almost identical. A balcony looks out over the gardens towards the Gulf of Thailand. The pool suites each have a plunge pool in their private garden (suites 1 and 5 have the larger pools).
Entry to the pool suite is through double doors set into an archway, down a path through your garden and past your pool and loungers. The first room is the verandah, which has a dining space and day-beds suitable for in-room massage treatments. Floor to ceiling windows fill the suite with light. Through a double set of doors and shutters is the bedroom complete with the biggest bed you will ever see - wider than it is long. At the base of the bed sits a comfortable sofa and table where your daily fruit and night-time sweets are placed.
The bathroom is the highlight of the suite with a huge stone bath (either in the bedroom or in the bathroom) with a large lounging area each side. Another feature is the steam room cum shower - your butler prepares the steam room and bath each night. Lastly, the suites have his-and-hers dressing rooms, with tall sculpted sinks and plenty of space for toiletries.
The treatment rooms in the Barai are stunning. Each offers a separate changing room (with toilet facilities), where bathrobes, slippers and anything else needed for your treatment is provided. The main treatment area is a dark, womb-like space. Heavy wooden shutters inlaid with coloured glass allow some light into the room, with wonderful rainbow colours. In front of these shutters is a seating area, where you receive a foot wash before the treatment and are served tea and dried fruit afterwards.
Outside, in the courtyard, is a large stone bath similar to those in the Barai suites, a steam room, outdoor shower and lounging area. Some treatment rooms offer additional facilities, such as the Vichy shower.
Throughout the different spaces, water is used as an effective relaxation aid. On entry to the suite, and again in the outdoor area, large stepping stones take you across a pond. After your treatment, when the shutters are opened, you sit gazing at a still pool, sipping your tea.
These suites truly are beautiful and one of the reasons we love the Barai so much.
The Barai in Hua Hin is a beautiful Thai spa with wonderful service. We strongly recommend staying in a suite (it is a step up from the Hyatt Regency) - choose the balcony suite if privacy is most important to you or pool suite 1 or 5 for a larger pool (suite 1 receives more sun but is less private). The Barai butlers are wonderful, bringing fresh fruit and sorbet each day when you are sitting outside and always smiling. This is a perfect honeymoon destination, but we make any excuse to stay!