Anantara Hotel, Chiang Mai

Colonial charm and 100 years of history at this picturesque retreat in the heart of Thailand's northern city

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Though it’s often referred to as Bangkok’s laid-back cousin, Chiang Mai bubbles with the same electric energy as the Thai capital. It’s become a bucket-list destination for thrill-seekers across the globe, where al fresco tuk-tuk rides, sizzling snacks from carts, and endless aisles of night markets provide round-the-clock stimulation. But for vacationers looking for a more peaceful stay, there’s no need to retreat into the hills—a dreamy modernist sanctuary called the Anantara Chiang Mai sits just a short walk from the city center.

Nestled against the peaceful Mae Ping river, the 84-room resort is no newcomer. Portions of the hotel actually date back to 1915 when they first housed the offices and dwelling quarters of the British Consulate. Those spaces later served as the design inspiration for the subsequent hotel structure, which mixes modernist and colonial architecture with traditional Thai decor. Warm hues of wood and off-white fuse with pleasing symmetries and an abundance of lush greenery. It’s hard to imagine the consulate got any work done here.

The soothing effect intensifies once you reach your room—whether that be the comfy Deluxe Room or the seriously spacious Kasara Suite. Whichever you choose, each comes with its own balcony and almost too many spaces to take a nap: outside on the daybed, inside on the real bed, in the tub, or maybe on the corner lounge bench. Wood, earthy oranges (even the real fruit), and minimalist furniture prevail here, oozing tropical elegance.

When it comes to food, there’s something for everyone. In-house are two restaurants that serve up completely different fare. The Service 1921 Restaurant & Bar (an upscale Jazz Age-themed eatery), offers traditional Thai, Vietnamese and Sichuan cuisine while another spot, simply called The Restaurant, will please international visitors in the mood for something familiar—steaks, seafood and pasta. But for anyone searching for that true eat-on-the-side-of-the-street experience (and for something a little more affordable), food hawkers await in city’s most famous night bazaar, just a five-minute walk from the lobby.

After adventuring in the city, yoga and Muay Thai boxing classes are available as well as dream state-inducing “spa journeys” at Anantara’s luxurious spa. And don’t forget about the pool—the 34-meter oasis stretches out just alongside the river for optimal views and tanning angles. Altogether it’s a hotel that offers the perfect balance: encouraging visitors to get out and explore, while remaining a luxurious sanctuary to which they can return.

To book a room at the Anantara Chiang Mai, head to their website.

Images by Kevin Serai