“An ideal base for sightseeing: quiet and civilised but within spitting distance of the traveller hub of Tha Pae Gate”
Designed in modern Asian style with Lanna touches – dark wood, whitewash and bold silks – the rooms are all accessed from a quiet, romantic courtyard, beautifully lit in the evenings. It's perfect for couples between 30 and 45 who would have stayed in a guesthouse, perhaps on this very site, some 5 to 10 years ago - but have since got used to their creature comforts.
- Location: right by Tha Pae Gate, it's perfect for exploring the old town, the beer bars and the Night Bazaar
- Stylish rooms are arranged around a timbered courtyard with murmuring fountains and a banyan tree, creating a characterful, secluded atmosphere
- Quiet, despite the proximity to the action
- Excellent, friendly service
- Highly competitive rates for i-escape guests at the time of writing, with free in-room minibar
- The tiny ‘spa pool’ has only 6 loungers - these will be highly contested in the high season. But after a footsore day, a cool blast from its underwater jets will revive the spirits.
- The free WiFi in the rooms wasn’t working when we visited. But a couple of PCs in the lobby run on cable and are free to use
- The extensive breakfast buffet is best enjoyed early
Best time to go
The hot season (March to May) is for the hardy only, though temperatures soar into the mid 30s celsius with high humidity to boot, and the rains can hit quite hard from mid-May, without getting much cooler. Chiang Mai and surrounding towns are great places to experience the water festival, Songkran (mid April). There's also a flower festival on the first weekend in Feb with a procession of floats shaped into animals, chedis and scenes from the Ramayana.
The rainy season (June to Oct) is an option – average rainfall is about 200mm per month, peaking in Aug-Sept, but it all comes down in half an hour a day and you can expect one or two dry days per week. It's usually in the mid to high 20s celsius. There's a 'life-prolonging' Inthakin festival in Chiang Mai in early June, where young men are paraded around on others' shoulders before starting life as monks.”
- Boutique Hotel
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
The rooms, accessed from walkways around the courtyard, are designed in modern Asian style with a twist. Mirror-shard mosaics, silk drapes and scatter cushions in blazing primary colours provide the Thai effect, and the Lanna influence takes the form of dark wood veneer, tapered lines and silk lanterns. Bathrooms are large and luxurious.
Deluxe rooms offer all basic amenities, including air-con, 26" LCD TV and DVD player, and bathrobes, hairdryers and shower cubicles in the bathroom. The simple minibar – water, beer and soft drinks – is free; you also get tea- and coffee-making facilities.
The larger Premier Deluxe rooms have a banquette in the window where you can relax with a book. Some, on upper floors, offer a view of the hills and the towering clouds that build up over them in the wet season. The slightly bigger ones in the corners have a bathtub rather than shower cubicle. In our opinion, these are the best value rooms.
There are several connecting rooms in those two categories, in case you’re semi-estranged from the wife or have well-behaved children. Grand Deluxe rooms have a walk-in dressing room and, if you must, space for an extra bed.
The Naga Suite measures 72m², its piece de resistance being a rather startling art piece at the head of the bed based on the mythical snake that inspired the hotel’s name and design quirks.
- Air conditioning
- Coffee / tea making
- Cots Available
- DVD player
- Extra beds
- Internet access
- Safe box
For breakfast, taken in the restaurant between 6.30-10.30am, the buffet offers a few pre-cooked warm Asian and European dishes, which are better enjoyed earlier in the shift since standing around is no healthier for food than people. There’s a good choice of cereals and tasty homemade jam. Juices are freshly squeezed.
The contemporary Thai-styled Naga restaurant features the ubiquitous snake motif on its warm yellow walls and is also open for lunch and dinner, offering Mediterranean cuisine with an Asian twist. Signature dishes include spinach and quail egg ravioli with black truffles, duck leg confit glazed with kumquat gastrique, roasted snow fish with semi-dried tomato relish, and tortino al cioccolato.
Beside the entrance is the attractively designed Thai/international restaurant, Café de Naga, with some seating among tropical vegetation as well as indoors in air-conditioned comfort. It serves fresh baked items, dishes such as Chiang Mai curry noodles (Khao Soy), Vietnamese spring rolls, roasted duck curry and mango sweet sticky rice, as well as freshly brewed coffee, homemade juices and ice creams. It also has a private gallery and collection of Lanna arts and antiques. European-trained executive chef Suzie Nilklad (who also a stint at the Alain Ducasse Centre) is the creative proprietor of both establishments.
Do also check out the Lobby Bar, which extends through to the poolside terrace, for cocktails and casual drinks.
A wealth of other eating options awaits just outside the gate, including Girasole, and a good, absurdly cheap Italian, Pizzeria Da Roberto, right next door, run by a bonafide Mediterranean.
- Coffee / tea making
- Restaurants nearby
- Room service
- By Day
- Relax on loungers beside the (tiny) spa pool, then let its powerful jets massage the aches from your tired bones
- Explore the temples and maze of little streets of the old town, right at your doorstep, or simply lose yourself in the sleepy streets and peer into doorways as you pass. The city is a great urban sprawl around an easily navigable axis of charm
- Thai massage and cookery courses – There’s no better place in the country to learn these two arts, with a plethora of classes and schools vying for your custom
- Trekking, rafting and hill-tribe tours – The province is the epicentre of outdoor adventures, though you should choose your operator carefully and know that the region is far from unspoilt. We’ve always fancied the Flight of the Gibbon tour, 2 km of ziplines and hanging bridges in the vertiginous jungle canopies - the front desk can assist with excursions and onward travel booking services
- Rent a scooter (from one of the many shops near by) - In the direction of the hills, you’ll soon reach Doi Suthep, the city’s own temple mountain, with its processional staircase, gold-painted temples and chedis, and glorious views. (The cable car is best avoided)
- Visit the Night Bazaar, actually an evening bazaar that still offers the best selection of handicrafts, trinkets and tat among the mushrooming venues. It’s a 10-15-minute walk down the road across the moat
- Take a tuk-tuk to the Ping River, with its romantic waterfront bars and restaurants
- Play golf at one of these clubs: Royal Chiang Mai, Maejo Chiang Mai or Gassan Lake
- Have a drink in one of the beer bars along the moat at Tha Pae Gate: the area preserves the homely, fairy-lit sleaze of a bygone traveller era with peeling formica and ancient beer coasters
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Cooking classes
- Historical sites
- Shopping / markets
- Traditional cultures
Management don't discourage families but there are no specific facilities for children. However, they can provide cots and extra beds on request. It is possible to create interconnecting rooms in the Deluxe & Premier Deluxe categories only, available upon request and subject to availability. Extra beds are only available in the Grand Deluxe Rooms. Children under 12 can share a room with parents free of charge if sleeping in parents' bed and not eating breakfast. Or they can opt for an extra bed at an extra cost.
Family friendly accommodation:
Cots Available, Extra Beds Available
Baby cots available on request
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking