Pause Resort on Koh Larn island, is definitely a chill place. This is not a 4 star experience by far, but somehow it all flows well on the sunny island. We stayed 5D4N, which is considered a long booking by their standard. The resort mostly sees weekend stays, from Bangkok folk seeking a respite from the city.
From Suvarnabhumi, we took a direct bus (2hrs, 134 baht) to central Pattaya (via airportpattayabus.com). It was easy-peasy, no need to enter Bangkok at all. Upon reaching Pattaya is where it gets a bit hairy. You will need to get to Bali-Hai Pier, to take a 30 min ferry to Koh Larn island. From there, the resort will pick you up. Correspondence with Pause via their FB is reliable and very helpful. Thumbs up for this. They literally answered all the queries that we had.
Once on the island, you really need to switch off that part of mind that dictates control and simply flow with the surroundings. Koh Larn is a bit of a sleepy town, the pier is where most of the shops are, there is only ONE 7-11 on the whole island, and there are no buildings taller than 2 storeys. The wonderful resort owner, Yung, explained to us this was sanctioned to protect the island and its inhabitants. It makes for a very real village-type experience.
Pause has a very affordable 50 baht transfer service, that drops you off at any location on the island. In fact, the nearest beach, Nual Beach is free to go to. This service is a god sent for those who don't ride scooters. There are about 6 beaches (depending who you ask), each is a highlight and a must to visit. Tawaen has the best sand, water clarity and waves, but it is also the most crowded due to these same reasons. But the other beaches are not shabby by far, very capable of afternoon cocktails and lazy sunning, so it really is a toss-up between privacy or perfection.
We stayed in Room 4: Vintage Pastel, which is basically an enclosed concrete quarter, with its own mini-garden and outdoor bathroom. Very interesting indeed. We liked the concept and how, except for the bedroom, the whole space had exposed ceilings to the sky. We showered under sunlight, moonlight, enjoy breezes and wildlife in the mornings. It was very private, a sanctuary.
The resort only has 6 rooms: 4 with the "concrete quarters" concept, 2 with a "double-story porch" concept. During our stay, we saw different guests coming and going, but really liked how it was a small scale operation. As part of the Songkran celebration, each room was also gifted with dry pouches to keep electronics & money safe. This was a very thoughtful gift, and was really appreciated. They take Songkran very seriously in Thailand, we were drenched from Pattaya to the island.
Except for the breakfast that is thrown in free, (Eggs, toast, sausage, and beverages, standard fare.) food is quite limited on the island. You can purchase fresh seafood and grill them at the resort, or get cooked meals at the Pier. But things wind down pretty early, by sundown most shops at the beaches and pier are closed. So stock up on snacks at the 7-11, especially if you don't want to be rushing for food deadlines on your holiday. The resort does have simple snacks in the evenings, as part of the outdoor music performances.
This next part is entirely a personal preference. The resort has a vibrant jamming culture, there is a drum set and guitars in the main check-in area, and they are not merely for display! Several nights a week, the owners & friends get together and jam out to thai and english tunes. It really is a hip dream that they have made a reality, and for those who love live music, this is a major plus. You can even jump up there and belt out a song if the mood strikes. And they do party hard, til about 2 to 3am. I slept fine, but my partner did have some trouble getting into deep sleep. But somehow, we were okay with it.
We noticed, there was a bit of a resource shortage at the resort, due to the Songkran holiday. The laundered towels did not reach the island until our 4th day, so that was a bit unpleasant to not have fresh towels daily. Our daily bottled water was also switched out to opened jug water one of the days, which was odd, but we drank it anyways. But this was addressed as a one-time thing, due to the shutdown period. However, with foresight and proper planning, it is very possible to avoid the situation entirely.
The punctuality of the pick-up service is also on "island-time". 4 pm becomes 4.30. 4.30 becomes 5pm. We mitigated this by simply calling up the resort when we were ready to be picked up, and they would usually send the car promptly.
The room clean-up was similarly on a "do ask" basis. So we simply made our own beds, cleared our own trash and generally kept everything in order for the majority of our stay. This was fine for us, but could be a major major deal breaker for those tuned to luxury and high service standards.
I would say that the Pause Resort is a gem on Koh Larn Island. It really is a bit rough around the edges, but once you lower your expectations and communicate your intentions clearly, there really is not much to be unhappy about. Our days were breakfast, morning nap, afternoons at the beach, early dinner, back by 8pm, sleep by 12. It was very relaxing, as there was not much to do, except rest, unwind and take it slow. No rowdy tourists, not many screaming brats, it was a holiday away from the holiday scene.
That is partly helped by the island life itself, but also the chill and relaxed attitudes of the resort staff. They were warm, genuine, a bit shy perhaps, but they became more like guides and chat buddies rather than service staff, and we did leave feeling that we had just experienced something very unique for the first time on our travels.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Ideal for fun and relaxation, PAUSE Resort & Bar is located in the Koh Larn area of Pattaya. From here, guests can enjoy easy access to all that the lively city has to offer. With its convenient location, the hotel offers easy access to the city's must-see destinations. At PAUSE Resort & Bar, every effort is made to make guests feel comfortable. To do so, the hotel provides the best in services and amenities. Free Wi-Fi in all rooms, Wi-Fi in public areas, car park, BBQ facilities, restaurant are just a few of the facilities that set PAUSE Resort & Bar apart from other hotels in the city. Hotel accommodations have been carefully appointed to the highest degree of comfort and convenience. In some of the rooms, guests can find non smoking rooms, air conditioning, desk, television, satellite/cable TV. The hotel offers fantastic facilities, including garden, to help you unwind after an action-packed day in the city. PAUSE Resort & Bar is an ideal place of stay for travelers seeking charm, comfort and convenience in Pattaya. ... more less