THE beauty and hospitality of Chiang Mai seems to have won the hearts of travelers because as many as four of its hotels made it to Travel and Leisure magazine’s list of top 10 best Southeast Asian resort hotels for 2016 with 137 Pillars House sitting pretty at the pole position.
Every year Travel and Leisure asks its readers to participate in its World’s Best Awards survey and share their opinions about the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise lines, spas and other pleasures.
While Chiang Mai did so well this year, three other hotels in as many tourist destinations also made it to the list with these being Amanpuri in Phuket, Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui and Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle in Chiang Rai.
“At any of the resorts on the list, our readers indicate, you will have a blissful time. Unique experiences rank high. So do one-of-a-kind properties and beyond-exceptional service. ‘Paradise…’ is how one survey-taker succinctly described the Nam Hai, a contemporary beachfront resort in Hoi An, Vietnam, that came in at No. 2 this year.
“But it was the 137 Pillars House, located in Chiang Mai, Thailand, that rose to the very top. Might that be because it is rumored to be the same building that the King of Siam built for his children’s governess Anna Leonowens? It could be. But it’s also likely that the refined and unfussy service, elegant decor, privacy, and immaculate grounds are just as enticing. ‘This hotel is a treasure in every way possible,’ wrote a reader,” Travel and Leisure said.
The following is the list of the winners and the scores they received:
No. 10: Amantaka, Luang Prabang, Laos
No. 9: Amanpuri, Phuket, Thailand
No. 8: Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa, Philippines
No. 7: Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai, Thailand
No. 6: Anantara Chiang Mai Resort, Thailand
No. 5: Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui, Thailand
No. 4: Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, Chiang Rai, Thailand
No. 3: Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, Thailand
No. 2: The Nam Hai, Hoi An, Vietnam
No. 1: 137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Travel and Leisure added that Chiang Mai is one of its readers’ favorite cities because its laid-back vibe is a strong contrast to the chaos and romance of Bangkok.
“Of the many boutique hotels in town, 137 Pillars House, which dates back to 1889, is arguably the best. It’s located in the Wat Gate neighborhood, which feels like a real Thai locale rather than a tourist area.
“The rooms are large and sumptuously appointed, with balconies, claw-foot bathtubs, and outdoor showers. Enjoy a massage or take a moment to lounge at the pool, knowing you have the rich culinary scene and cultural sights of the city at your fingertips,” the magazine said.
TOP: 137 Pillars House bowled over Travel and Leisure magazine’s readers and came first in this year’s survey.
INSET: A very elegant and peaceful corner within 137 Pillars House.
By Panu Sangdeeching