Arrival of the Sophisticated Boutique Hotel
the surplus of accommodations in Thailand, there has long
been a vast gap between budget bunkhouses and massive
luxury properties. It's easy to find a rustic eco-lodge
for a few baht a night or swanky digs that can host a
conference of hundreds. But the type of lodging that's
headlining the scene in major international cities these
days is just gaining a foothold in the Land of Smiles:
the sophisticated boutique hotel. Setting the bar for
this burgeoning movement is the Rachamankha in Chiang
Chiang Mai suits a hotel of this kind. While Bangkok is
sweaty and sprawling, Chiang Mai is intimate, delicate
and discreetly classy, with all the quaint charms of its
northern heritage. Due in part to the region's wealth
of temples, which provided the primary source of inspiration
for Rachamankha, it is a destination imbued with spirituality.
Its design was taken from the chapel of Wat Phra That
Lampang Luang in Lampang province. Emulated for more than
simply its visual appeal, the temple architecture stirs
the tranquility one expects from a sanctuary.
also honors the roots of Lanna (northern Thai) culture,
which was influenced by Chinese, Dai, Laotian, Lua and
Burmese traditions. Rather than a designer's nostalgic
interpretation of ancient Thailand, this is an endeavor—and
a quite successful one—dedicated to authenticity.
All that said, we caught hints of Milan in the bold patterns,
muted colors and clean lines of the bedrooms. We also
liked the sophisticated blend of Orient and Occident in
the staff uniforms.
are just 23 accommodations, including a one-bedroom suite,
which wrap around a quiet interior courtyard. Because
the antiques were hand-selected, each room is unique,
although some elements have been designed for a sense
of continuity: old Lanna-style doors with elaborate handles
and wooden bolts, window blinds made of bamboo and reed
floor mats. The temple theme is carried into the restaurant,
where Thai and fusion cuisine can be enjoyed indoors amid
glowing lanterns and nineteenth-century paintings or in
the courtyard, accompanied by traditional regional music.
For relaxation, there is a bar, a pool flanked by sun
beds, and the entire city right outside the front gate.
doubt staying here will motivate you to learn more about
Lanna culture. To get started, head to the onsite Gallery,
which exhibits silverware, lacquerware, Hilltribe ornaments
and relics discovered when the hotel site was excavated.
Studying the heritage that inspired the hotel, you'll
appreciate not only its graceful influences, but also
how perfectly it integrates into the 21st-century desire
for aesthetically pleasing comfort.
to Thailand? Check our Guide.