Chiang Mai’s 3 most outstanding boutique hotels

For a small city, Chiang Mai is blessed with an abundance of accommodation options for visitors. From the grandeur of five star hotels like the Four Seasons or the Dhara Dhevi, to the humblest backpacker guest house, there is something for everyone.   Boutique hotels started to appear in the city about ten years ago and it now has a wide range of boutique options. If you want a memorable stay, with comfort, luxury and excellent service, then look no further than the best three boutique hotels in Chiang Mai

137 Pillars House

Located in the historic Wat Gate area in what used to be, in the late 1800s, the foreigners’ enclave of Chiang Mai, 137 Pillars House has a fascinating history that few hotels can match. Wrapped up with intrepid British adventurers of the 19th century who set off for the Orient with dreams of adventure and riches and with Anna, the real life Welsh teacher who taught English to the children of the King of Siam.

The lovingly restored 19th century teak house which gives the hotel its name sits in the middle of the property, home to the bar, a fine dining European restaurant and the grand piano whose strains can be heard drifting through the warm air of an evening. The hotel’s Thai restaurant is housed in a stunning dining room with food which lives up to its surroundings.

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The hotel’s 30 sumptuous suites are named after the owners of the East Borneo Trading Company which once had its Thai headquarters in the eponymous house. The 70 square metre, entry level Rajah Brooke suites are stylish and supremely comfortable. Fixed, white slated blinds, vintage bathroom tiles, and a claw-footed bath tub give a colonial feel but the suites are equipped with modern amenities including indoor and outdoor showers, cable TV, a DVD player with USB and ipod docking station, a coffee machine and fine teas. Soft drinks and beer from the mini bar are free and there is plentiful bottled drinking water. There is also a very large vintage tiled balcony with day bed and 137 Pillars House’s signature rocking chair.

Larger suites including separate living rooms and the top of the range, the Louis Leonowens suites (Louis was the son of Anna, the King’s English teacher), include a private pool.

It’s easy to see why 137 Pillars House has won multiple awards, including Travel and Leisure’s Best Resort Hotel in Asia; simply put, it’s the kind of hospitality that all hotel guests dream of.

Rachamankha

Venture down a nondescript soi – alleyway – in the heart of Chiang Mai’s old city and you’ll find the quiet hideaway that is Rachamankha Hotel, a serene refuge from the hustle and bustle of the outside world.   The buildings within the compound are inspired by old Chinese courtyard dwellings, with influences from local Lanna culture. The hotel was designed by a renowned Thai architect who lives onsite; Asian art and antiques from his private collection are found in the guest rooms and throughout the public areas.

Entry level superior rooms are simple with tiled floors and white walls and antique furnishings and art. There’s satellite TV, DVD player (you can choose from a library of titles), mini bar and tea and coffee making amenities. Deluxe rooms are similar but with the added romance of a canopy bed; spacious and stylish two bedroom suites are also available.

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The timeless appeal of Rachamankha, however, lies outside the rooms. To wander from courtyard to courtyard, discovering art along the way is simply a delight and a photographer’s dream. One of the highlights is the beautiful library which is atmospheric and stocked with hundreds of books, from novels to travel to art and culture.   In addition, there is a large open air sitting area, the roof held aloft by sturdy, deep red columns, and stocked with large coffee table books, flowers and art.

The hotel is blessed with a sunny 20 metre pool and an excellent restaurant serving Northern Thai/Burmese/Shan cuisine. It’s ideally placed to explore the 700 year old city, with many working temples within walking distance and the famous Sunday Walking Street market a short stroll from the front gate.

Puripunn Baby Grand

One of Chiang Mai’s first boutique hotels, Puripunn Baby Grand has stood the test of time and provides one of the best boutique stays in the city.  Owned and managed by the charming Khun Att, the hotel employs wonderfully friendly and helpful staff and is a great base for a visit to Northern Thailand’s most popular city.

Puripunn – which means ‘land of sharing’ – is built in the style of a family compound with its thirty rooms arranged around a central garden and pool. It feels intimate and cosy and the garden looks particularly beautiful at night when fairy lights twinkle in the trees.

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The hotel design is inspired by the traditional Lanna style of the region with contemporary influences. Rooms are spacious, comfortable and tastefully furnished. Baby suites come with a four poster bed, plenty of chairs and a chaise lounge, as well as a TV, CD player, desk and an abundant supply of teas and coffee along with bottles of drinking water. Special attention has been paid to the large bathrooms in all categories of room, some have stand alone tubs, others sunken Jacuzzi baths.  Each room has a private balcony or patio with brightly coloured floor tiles and comfortable seating and all overlook the garden and pool. The Puripunn Grand Suite is also has a private pool.

Situated in a quiet soi (lane) Puripunn Baby Grand is slightly outside of the main tourist area, in the historic Wat Gate district. But a walk of 10-15 minutes will bring you to the night bazaar, Wororot market and Thapae Road and the hotel runs tuk tuks into town at scheduled times throughout the day and on demand in the evening.

If you get the chance to sit down and chat with Khun Att then do!  He’s passionate about giving guests a great experience and knowledgeable about the history of the surrounding area.

Candice Bain is Founder at Desert to Jungle.

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Comments (6)

  1. Ginny says:

    These hotels sound beautiful and I found the article very interesting. Are any of them particularly welcoming to families? It is always good to know what hotels don’t mind children.

  2. Candice Bain says:

    Hi Ginny, they can all accommodate families. Puripunn Baby Grand has one family room with two separate bedrooms. Ratchamankha has rooms which sleep three people or beautiful suites that sleep up to five. 137 Pillars House has suites (some with private pool) where you can get a rollaway bed for children.

  3. Patricia Voeten says:

    Gosh,These hotels sound great. I always like to stay in small independent hotels where the staff enjoy helping guests to make the most of their vacation. These hotels are the type I’d enjoy staying in. Maybe next year. Thanks for your info.

  4. Laura says:

    Hi Candice,
    All these hotels sound divine. If you had to choose one which would it be if you were considering value and style?

  5. Candice says:

    Patricia, these hotels are all independently owned and the passion of the owners and staff really shines through!

  6. Candice says:

    Laura, they all have great appeal in different ways. I’d have to choose 137 Pillars House, though. It’s the most expensive but the most special and I really didn’t want to leave.

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