Located in the heart of the walled city on Rachedamneon Rd (Walking Street), Tamarind is an enticing oasis and a refuge of tranquility. Accessed from the street via an avenue of bamboo, it is built around an ancient tamarind tree, with a cluster of low-rise white-washed buildings with clay-tiled roofs resembling a traditional Lanna village. An open-air reception area overlooks a shimmering pool where children splash and adults sprawl lazily on sun lounges or dine in the Ruen Tamarind Restaurant. Rooms are small but exquisite, with simple modern furnishings draped with rich, locally sourced textiles. The hotel also doubles as gallery space, with its corridors featuring works by local artists.
Anantara Chiang Mai Resort & Spa
The much-beloved Chedi hotel has recently become an Anantara, a company with a reputation for snaffling the best locations. And this property has it all - a lovely riverside setting, impeccable styling, and great accessibility to Chiang Mai’s vibrant cafe and nightlife scene. Its pool area is simply to die for; while its 84 rooms and suits all feature a river-facing balcony where guests can watch traditional fishing boats drift by. The 90-year-old colonial British consulate building now houses a restaurant service Indian and South-East Asian cuisine; and of course, it also serves high tea!
This hip, urbane hotel is located right in the heart of the action of the Night Bazaar just off Chang Klang Rd. Everything about this place just makes me smile, from its spacious, funky lobby with oversized vases filled with fruit to its welcome drinks in silly, wobble-bottomed glasses. Clean lines and simple, functional design maximises space in its small guest suites; and amusing touches like silk bed balls and a nightly gift box with goodies such as fortune cookies are a sweet touch. Even the staff here are cool suspenders and Converse, they are always helpful, smiley and prepared to go the extra mile for guests. Don’t miss their daily ‘change-of-shift’ ritual - a flash-mob style choreographed dance to Cole Porter’s ‘Delovely’.
Ping Nakara Boutique Hotel & Spa
With just 19 rooms, this intimate, elegant boutique hotel wears a mantle of exclusivity. Built in traditional colonial style, it features white fretwork and a tranquil courtyard centred around a sparkling pool. Rooms are decorated with hand-crafted furniture, with accessories reflecting colonial traditions, while a formulated fragrance made from local herbs and plants wafts around the corridors, enlivening the senses.
137 Pillars House
Although I haven’t stayed in or inspected this property, it is receiving rave reviews and seems like the place to be seen in Chiang Mai. Built around a restored 1889 teak house once belonging to the East Borneo Company, it features 30 villas in a veritable botanic garden of rare northern plant species. Each spacious suite features colonial-style furniture and decor, with vintage-tiled verandahs providing a cool and tranquil place to relax and soak in the ambience.