A film & travel writer & editor, currently travelling New Zealand ~
Published January 24th 2013
Paradise, set in a Thailand paradise
You won't really find it on the internet unless you know it exists, and it's not on agoda, or booking.com. It really only exists for the people who originally founded it, and the select few who find their way there - only to return to the Railei Beach Club again and again.
Railei Beach Club has a bit of history behind it. It was founded by the real-life inspirations for the characters in the novel, The Beach. It's a community of magnificently crafted Thai houses tucked under a limestone cliff face, in front of the white sands of Railey Beach (often spelt Railei or Railay) on the West coast of Thailand.
It's easily accessible - you would normally fly into Krabi from either Thailand's capital, Bangkok or Malaysia's, Kuala Lumpur. Once you are in Krabi, the resort can sort out your transport from Krabi Town, Ao Nang or the airport for around $40 AUD. It will entail a drive in an air conditioned van, and a spectacular introduction to the scenery on board the Club's traditional Long-Tail boat, that drops you right at the sandy beach in front of the Club.
Railay Beach is the very quiet cousin of Ao Nang, where backpackers come to chill out after the noise & drinking in Phuket, families watch the monkeys or scamper up the ropes & clay to hike to the lagoon, and where a select few hide away surrounded by the forest, cliffs & monkeys at Railei Beach Club.
There are several houses to choose from - all of them built by a different member of the club's community, and all of them for hire, when the owners aren't in residence. I stayed in Leaf Bungalow (20B), owned by a writer who lives in a house behind it, but far enough away. The huge bed with mosquito net hanging above it, and flowers on the sheets welcomed me, as did the hammock on the deck - very handy for when some afternoon rain comes in to cool things off. There's also a self-contained kitchen complete with tiffin and a maid service every day leaving behind even more fresh flowers delicately floating in water or on fresh towels. If you want to grab some take away the local restaurants are within walking distance.
Some of the houses are dedicated to singles and couples and some to families - they are all dedicated to comfort, decadence & privacy above all else. The wooden, traditional Thai structures are far enough away from each other that you will barely see anyone else.
The Club has fast Wi-Fi, brilliant staff, an honesty fridge for day time beers or fruit juices, but mainly secluded, absolutely stunning houses for hire, complete with everything you could require. If you're taking some time off in Thailand, make sure you put some money aside to stay a few days at this unique & exclusive (it may be booked out or the homes not for hire at that point in time) Club.
Top Tip: Meet at the bar overlooking the beach for sunset cocktails, and you'll be sure to be treated to the stories of some of the locals who live there, well, almost permanently & you will seriously start thinking of ways that you too can live this life for good.
Railei Beach Club is exclusive, affordable (with a bit of saving) & one of the most beautiful places Girl-vs-World has ever stayed at.