Thailand has many beautifully designed stays to be explored – yet most visitors tend to explore the coastal options with its outstanding turquoise seas. In the north city of Chiang Mai, the visitor can dive into different waters: spiritual wisdom, fading northern traditions and a symbiosis of the northern Asian architectural traditions with the power of untamed nature.
Rachamankha Hotel, located in Chiang Mai’s old city founded in 1296, is a 25 suite designed boutique space next to one of the most remarkable temples in the city – the grand Wat Phra Singh circa 1345. The atmosphere of exclusive leading luxury is accented by a pristine white walled state – one cannot see much of the hotel from the street, only the forecourt – and the zen-oriented vibe is revealed once the guest enters the colonnaded courtyards, immediately immersing the visitor in serenity and contentment.
In a showcase of the Northern Thai architecture, rooted in the eleventh century BC Chinese dwellings, the hotel – designed by Thai architect Ong-ard Statrabhandhu – has a residential style atmosphere of simple sophistication with tall red lacquered columns, flowered pavilions, secret gardens and a 2,000 books library.
The suites, in Lanna Chiang Mai style were built using traditional techniques – the same used on the temple walls since 1296. The interiors are all soft silks, muted tones and a colour palette of royal reds, with exquisite bathrooms and four-poster beds, antiques and artworks from Burma, Africa and China.
The restaurant celebrates the Lanna, Burmese and Shan culinary traditions, served in the open-air spaces immersed in a private garden with elegant decor and sophisticated service, all accompanied by the soft tunes of the northern classical music played by local string musicians.
It was magical to experience northern Thailand from Rachamankha Hotel – a painterly portrait of shooting stars, smiley faces and otherworldly temple chants.
Photography by François Halard