This was my second trip to Bottle Beach but my first staying at Smile (stayed last time at Bottle Beach 2, which has more budget bungalows). The 2-story bungalow set up the hill was perfectly fine - quiet, nice view, nice bathroom, wood floors. The beach itself is so lovely and perfect for swimming with soft sand and clear blue water. Food is decent and in some cases really good. We saw monkeys, large geckos, and an amazing huge spotted jellyfish. The hike up the lookout point is worth the effort. You will get a stunning view of the island and a nice breeze. If you need new towels or toilet paper, just ask. The scene there was a little older than in years past. I'd say the average age was about 30 for guests at Smile and there were many people with young children at Bottle Beach 1.
Smile is currently quite understaffed, so the guy who is there has to pretty much do everything himself. Communication was challenging when we settled out bill after staying for a week. We had prepaid for 2 nights by Western Union, and I had the receipt, and it seemed like everything was settled but as we were leaving to catch the taxi boat we were told we had to pay for the 2 nights that had already been paid - we refused and it got kind of tense. Also, we confirmed to be picked up from the pier upon arrival but no one showed up - normally not a problem as we'd just take the taxi boat, but it was 9pm and the boats weren't running due to high waves, so we had to run around to find a phone and pay to call Smile, and then wait for 2 hours for someone to arrive to get us after 30 hours of travel, which was not ideal. Others staying there had experienced the same. All of this is due to lack of communication between the people in Bangkok who do the booking and the people who live and work at Bottle Beach.
I would definitely recommend staying there but would not pay for any nights in advance again. There is always an open bungalow. Also, you will get a better rate if you do not book in advance. Make sure you bring the phone number of the front desk with you so you can call when they do not show up at the pier. You can't take a taxi there - it must be a 4WD vehicle. Better yet, call the front desk (not the Bangkok people who book by email) yourself the day before you arrive to confirm directly - or even better, arrive earlier in the day so you can take the taxi boat from Chaloklum which is much faster and a nicer way to arrive.
Worth the effort!!
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