Between a fantastic coffee (and tea) culture, and the laid-back vibes you’d only find far, far out of Bangkok’s buzzing city centre, Chiang Mai provides an ideal escape for those who prefer lush greenery and mountain breezes over the scorch of the sun on the Southern islands.
It’s where culture and creativity meet to fall in love. It’s where the classic and the contemporary come to entwine and play. And it’s where the amalgamation of Lanna living and artistry sits as the backdrop for a growing digital nomad and hipster epicentre. Chiang Mai is charming – and being the hidden-not-so-hidden holiday gem that it is, has also given rise to a beautiful selection of idyllic boutique hotels.
From urban oases to romantic riverside views, we’ve put together a list of our favourite boutique hotels in Chiang Mai. If like us, your dreamy weekend wanderlust consists of an ode to a snowy duvet and a great book, or a soothing massage and hearty Northern food (khao soi we hear you calling!), read right on.
Featured and hero image credit: Na Nirand
Raya Heritage has something of the contemporary cool aesthetic of Bangkok’s Siwilai City Club, except, you get to revel and relish in its surroundings for an entire weekend, rather than for just a few drinks. Inspired by the spirit of Lanna in a beautifully curated, clean and calming design, the boutique resort manages to balance a sophisticated elegance with its surrounding nature and community. Located on the banks of the Ping river, guests can enjoy a tranquil environment within one of the 33 spacious suite rooms with views of a lush green garden. Rise with the bird calls in the morning and take a dip in your private pool, and definitely don’t miss the Chiang Mai afternoon tea at the Cha Tea Terrace for a sweet snack.
Raya Heritage, 157 Moo 6, Tambol Donkaew, Amphoe Mae Rim, Chiang Mai, +66 53 111 670 73
There couldn’t possibly be a place more apt than Chiang Mai to be home to a design hotel that goes by the name of ‘Hotel des Artists’. And indeed, the quiet spot located by the Ping River provides much to admire and inspire. Following a ‘Modern Chinoiserie’ concept, the 19-room residence aims to juxtapose the old with the new through a contemporary design with classic accents. From the infinity-edged swimming pool and the library to the Waving Willows garden, Hotel des Artists is a must-visit not only for artists, but also for those who love an artful environment in a way that is subtle and soothing. The perfect place to read a book (or write a book) and drink really good coffee at the in-house Café des Artists.
Hotel des Artists Ping Silhouette, 181 Charoenraj Rd., T.Wat Kate, Amphoe Muang, Chiang Mai, +66 53 249 999
Na Nirand doesn’t call itself a ‘romantic boutique resort’ for no reason. Between its legendary history on Charoenprathet Road and its blend of Lanna and Colonial style architecture, the hotel has something of a 19th century novel feel – in the very best of ways. There’s certainly a vintage air upon stepping into the rooms, playing up a love story from the dark wooden furniture to the ornamental wood carvings and stucco elephants. Surrounded by indigenous trees, it’s the kind of place you could check in to and never set foot out of until check out. Lounge by the pool, go for an in-house massage, and sample local dishes in the traditional teak wood Thai Rice Barn restaurant for a stay that will have you leaving feeling nourished and flourished.
Na Nirand, 1/1 Soi 9, Charoenprathet Rd., Tambon Changklan, Amphoe Muang, Chiang Mai, +66 52 280 988
With its tall white arches, wooden design accents, and breezy open-air charm, Makka Chiang Mai is quite possibly one of the most Instagrammable boutique hotels in town. It was designed in light of the Buddhist philosophy, and a strive for a peaceful life within a hidden sanctuary. Blending contemporary with traditional Thai designs, the black, white, and gold colour scheme may be a common one for boutique hotels in Asia, yet somehow Makka still manages to keep it interesting. Located in the heart of Chiang Mai old town, it’s a stylish spot to wander and be inspired. The residence has a comforting aura, between small hidden gardens and fresh flowers, and the swirling of the wooden ceiling fans in the airy restaurant and library. It’s a place to relax, and to wonderfully reflect.
Makka, 18 Soi 8, Phrapokklao Rd., Phrasing, Muang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, +66 5328 1636 8
Rati Lanna stands out a little from the list for its more distinctive style. Focusing on the traditional rather than the contemporary, the decorative influences here were conceptualised to symbolise the day-to-day life of the Lanna community in a refined style. It’s a wholly immersive experience, whereby guests can even take part in Northern Thai cuisine cooking classes and merit-making with the monks every morning. The rooms are decked out with regal Lanna touches; a richly coloured opulence reminiscent of luxury hotels, with the warm charm of a boutique residence. From a cocktail in the plunge pool to a nap on the balcony rocking bench, Rati Lanna knows how to get guests to really indulge – in true Chiang Mai style.
Rati Lanna, 33 Changklan Rd., Pa Daet, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat, Chiang Mai, +66 53 999 333
This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Bangkok on 25 January 2019.