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In the past year I’ve slowly started to realize how many cool, boutique accommodation options are in Thailand. When I think of boutique hotels in the U.S., I immediately think of the Ace Hotel chain – fun properties with quirky attention to detail and style. The downside – for relatively simple rooms they’re still pricey. In Thailand, where the dollar goes further, you can treat yourself to a stay somewhere nice without making a huge dent in your budget.
Sala Lanna Chiang Mai is in the mid-range to higher end of the boutique options in town with rooms starting from around 4,500 baht (about $140 USD) in the high season.
Situated on the Mae Ping River, the modern, boxy hotel is pretty inconspicuous. Step inside though and you immediately see it has its own sense of style combining traditional Lanna, Thai and minimalist touches. While often the Thai way of decorating seems to be bigger, brighter, shinier and busier, the hotel has restrained itself using neutral tones, polished concrete floors and simple furniture – it was lovely. (Naturally, Thai boyfriend thought it was too simple.)
Though the hotel isn’t in the center of town, it is on a street with a lot of character, riverside restaurants and art galleries. Plus, it never takes long to get anywhere in the city so location isn’t a problem. For us, it felt like a little mini break – not someplace we’d usually stay will traveling but a nice change from our day to day life in Chiang Mai. It would be a great option for couples honeymooning or looking for a small splurge during their travels without going overboard.
The only negative thing to mention, is that while the hotel is situated on the river (and uses that fact as a draw in its marketing materials and ‘river views’ guest rooms), the Mae Ping River is nothing to write home about. Brown with varying levels of development on either side, if you were expecting a clean, relaxing view you’d be disappointed.
Another plus of the hotel is its food and dining options. Not only do the two onsite restaurants – serving Thai and Italian cuisine – have welcoming and stylish atmospheres, but the food is awesome. In fact, we ate what both my boyfriend and I thought was the best khao soi (a magical northern Thai dish of yellow curry, chicken and egg noodles) we’ve ever had. I think we’ve talked about it every 5-6 days since we ate it…which was a month and a half ago.
The Italian options were also well done and with prices comparable to many of the tourist-oriented Italian restaurants in town, but with better ambience and quality – I wouldn’t be surprised if we made another trip for dinner soon. Well worth it for both travelers and expats in Chiang Mai.
Sala Lanna Chiang Mai is part of a Thai-owned boutique hotel chain which has properties across the country. You can learn more and make reservations on the hotel website or on Agoda. The hotel and restaurants are located at 49 Charoenrat Road on the east side of the river.
Note: I was a special guest of the hotel but all opinions and recommendations are my own.