The Standard, Hua Hin

Surrounded by leafy trees and chirping birds, The Standard in Hua Hin offers a playful seaside retreat

A square garden is home to the 150-year-old Chamchuri tree. You can play on a red seesaw.

Confronting upside-down characters on a curved granite wall, I pondered whether I had fallen down the rabbit hole. Never had I come across a hotel that unconventionally upends its name. Surrounded by leafy trees and chirping birds, The Standard, Hua Hin, invites vacationers to discover a treasure trove of paraphernalia.

Flanked by pocket parks, I walked into a terminal-like open lobby dotted with round tables and chairs. A unique old railway station bench reminded me of the town's humble start. Hua Hin became a getaway when the railroad made its way to this quiet beachside town in the 1920s.

After checking in, I whiled away in a small boutique where a wardrobe houses an eclectic range of souvenirs from colourful candles to sleek outfits. Some are branded products; others are local crafts that could become the next big thing. But I was struck by pink nude body figures.

Entertaining the thought of adult recess, I took off my shoes and climbed a white winding slide in the playground. Then I followed the path leading to a large white front building with a facade screen that allows fresh air into the corridor with the least sun exposure.

The Juice Café is located at the entrance of the hotel.

Overall design

The building evokes Brutalist architecture that lasted from the 1950s to the 1970s. Characterised by massive and blocky elements, the beehive-like structure houses king, twin, and suite rooms. From balconies, vacationers will be treated to the view of a leafy square garden in the centre. In the hotel's meeting rooms, they can indulge in comic books and toys.

I walked through the courtyard under the dense canopy. The 150-year-old Chamchuri tree stands robustly, cooling down the air. It is the legacy of the previous owner who asked the hotel to preserve it. A red seesaw (again!) is the spotlight. Bird sounds, though artificial, brought the place to life.

Walking deeper, I found myself in the middle of white villas. Coming in different groups, they each have common gardens and unique rooms. Some include pools and canopies; others offer bayside views. I stayed in the upper room of the villa, enjoying the leafy panorama and the sight of weird sheep dolls on nearby roofs.

You can enjoy adult recess at a slide in the playground. 

Room and facility

My 82m² room includes a living room bedroom combo and a bathroom. A welcome letter greeted me with popcorn and jujubes on an oval green terrazzo table. I could not resist eating them on a large comfy sofa that creates its own living space. A king-sized bed is not attached to the wall, leaving room for a dressing area with a wardrobe and a mirror.

However, all the fun is hidden in the bathroom. Inside a cubicle are a shower and bathtub. You can lie there and relish the disco ball that overhangs from the ceiling. It reflects light dots on the tile wall. If you open the curtain, you can look out a large transparent circular window, but make sure that nobody will peep through it.

I left my luggage behind and followed the sound of waves. I began to notice that the path actually sloped down to a swimming pool and a lawn. Leisure activities include surfing, boxing, and mud lounging. I engaged in stand-up paddleboarding for the first time.

At first, I managed to put my coach's words into practice. You should kneel on the board, face the waves, and so on. But when I went further out, I felt as if I was being pulled down. Exhaustion and dizziness took over and I gave up, clambered aboard, and made my way to the shore.

After taking a brief nap in the room, I felt recharged and explored every nook and cranny of the hotel until I found hidden treasures. How come the retro coffee shop fell off my radar?

Located at the main entrance behind the tree, anybody can drop by without having to stay at the hotel. Inspired by Frank Sinatra's listening room, the Juice Café put old vinyls on display, including Paris Smith-Kenneth Hill Quartets and Chaka Khan's Destiny. I was told that they were curated from a record shop in Bangkok. I ventured to use a record player only to find that it is just on exhibition. Kazuo Ishiguro's Nocturnes would be a perfect companion.

The café brings in newspapers and special magazines like Frieze, Uppercase, and Cereal. You can leaf through them while sipping coffee in the morning. Works of art are dotted here and there. Upon arrival, you can spot a steel butterfly chair and a smoking lady. A mysterious black stone-like object stands in the garden.

When I came across them in unlikely places, they further piqued my interest. Fitness magazine covers from the 60s line the gym's wall. Take a look at the mural installation over the pool deck. American artist Rostarr spent eight days drawing these geometric shapes. You can also find a Danish painting in a toilet. My friend told me that it is a poster of a museum theatre in Vordingborg in Denmark.

A wardrobe showcases foreign and local products. 

Food

I wrapped up the tour and then hunted for food in the late evening. Praça, a Thai restaurant, is located at the restored heritage house. It serves a wide variety of small dishes in an izakaya-style. I fell in love with grilled coconut brushed pork skewers and betel leaf and crab in coconut curry. Just a stone's throw, Lido serves Italian dishes all day, including crab and chilli pasta. Its soft texture contrasts with sturdy crab meat and evokes the familiar flavour of tom yum goong soup.

Stand up paddle boarding under the cotton candy sky. 

Verdict

Opening its door on Dec 1, The Standard, Hua Hin, is a must for aficionados of pop culture. Walking through the hotel, you will mistake it for a museum. These works of art will also offer plenty of fun to the layman. Vacationers can enjoy this experience as the hotel is offering two packages. For the Standard, you can check-in and out at your convenience. For the Stowaway Long Stay Special, you can stay for three days and enjoy many benefits.

The Standard, Hua Hin, is at 59 Naresdamri Road, Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan. Call +66 32 535 999 or visit standardhotels.com.

A canopy villa room features a living room bedroom combo and a bathroom. The Standard, Hua Hin

I stayed in the upper room that offers a panoramic view of the surrounding foliage.

A terminal-like open lobby. 

A smoking lady lies in the bush. 

Fitness magazine covers offer a nod to the 1960s. 

The Juice Café displays vinyl records curated by a shop in Bangkok.

Inspired by Brutalist architecture, the front white building features a facade screen that brings fresh air into the corridor. A black stone-like object is a photogenic spot. 

Do you like the content of this article?
  COMMENT