As you all well know, I recently just got back from my dream adventure filled holiday to Thailand. I’m a bit of a hotel review nerd (If you can’t get a hold of me, I’m probably withering after hours in front of a trip advisor page) but I haven’t been anywhere worth blogging about in a while. Well, lets put an end to that starting with my first stop in Chiang Mai.
Situated on the banks of the Mae Ping river the Anantara Resort & Spa stood out to me on tripadvisor for it’s top ranked 5* status, standard of excellence and scenic location. I wanted luxury for this holiday but little did I know that there would be so much more to enjoy here!
LOCATION: After a stressful first night in Bangkok (our bags didnt arrive until 6 hours before our next flight) we arrived at the beautiful Anantara, pretty haggered and not in the best shape. Luckily it was only 15 minutes from the airport, and 5 minutes from Old City. The open air lobby sports uncluttered minimalist decor whilst retaining a sense of comfort & traditional thai style and it looks out onto a beautiful pond where you get a little glimpse of the contemporary architecture and outdoor surroundings. As soon as you enter you feel like your in a completely different rural & serene world, whether its when your having breakfast in ‘The Restaurant’ or chilling by the pool, the view of the river makes you feel like your miles away from the hustle and bustle of this cultural capital, when in reality your a 5 minute walk outside the hotel from it all (theres a lovely market 100m away). In terms of location and convenience with absolutely no compromise to peacefulness this is the best spot in Chiang Mai, no question about it!
Back to us being haggered- we arrived a little early but the lovely staff booked us in for a full body massage in the Spa. I cannot express in words how lovely it was to be escorted to a beautiful treatment room where we were able to have a long soak in a rain shower before recieveing a fantastic couples 90 minute Anantara Signature massage, which started with a lower leg herbal foot bath cleanse & massage before moving on to the bliss that was the full body massage. We left completely new people clean & refreshed and ready to check out the room! ROOM: We stayed in the deluxe room, a romantic bright spacious room which had a glorious view of the river (and an even cuter elephant waiting for us). The room carried through that contemporary thai style and the wooden clad walls just made it feel very homely (swiss coffee machine and yoga mat was such a nice touch). The balcony had a large double lounge bed which was the first port of call each morning while we used the wifi (which was exceptional by the way) to plan out our day ahead. The bathroom can be partitioned off but the exposed bath & shower area adds a bit of a romantic element in my opinion. Everything in the room was in perfect condition as you would expect from a 5* establishment. At the Anantara they take pest control (mosquitos etc) seriously. As well as a plug in repeller the housekeeping also come in the evening and spray the room for you, as well as prepare the room for your arrival in the evening like placing our slippers by the re-made up bed which felt like a personal touch. One thing I noticed which I don’t know if it was down to room location but the housekeeping never actually felt present. I’m sure we are all familiar with housekeeping knocking on the door when your trying to enjoy the last moments of your lie-in but it never happened here, in fact we only bumped into the housekeeping in the hallways, they were so undisruptive you wouldn’t even know they existed! Quite cool! Speaking of cool – air con was never an issue, you couldn’t even hear it on. With that & the lovely firm beds on this trip I never slept better! Definitely didn’t feel like it was a hot humid country outside.
FOOD: Onto one of my favourite points, the food! We experienced most of what the Anantara has to offer in this department. Starting with breakfast in ‘The Restaurant’ (the Hotel is built around this original building which was originally an old British Consulate, and gives the other restaurant its aptly named ‘The Service 1921’ restaurant). We usually chose to sit outside along the river for breakfast where we could choose from an à la carte menu that had a wide but concise choice of both european & asian cuisine. I’d highly recommend the eggs benedict! You also have the option of the buffet which serves what you’d expect from most asian buffets, gorgeous pastries, fresh fruit & juice as well as hot food, but the fact you could choose from a freshly made up menu also was a real treat! We also tried the irresistible offer of high-tea one afternoon at The Restaurant which had a wonderful choices of mini sandwiches, mini pies, warm scones & rich desserts, I would highly reccomend it. We also ate in ‘The Service 1921’ one evening which has the most interesting decor of anywhere I’ve eaten. The theme is very ‘british spy’ and the movie ‘The Kingsman’ comes to mind when looking at the fine selection of male accessories adorning the walls and even the menu comes encased in a ‘top secret mission’ envelope! Fun & sophisticated dining with an elegant take on dishes from around the country, I would recommend for palates attuned to fine cuisine.
THINGS TO DO: We also signed up for the cooking class which was such a highlight of our stay! The classes started with a tour of a local foodmarket to learn about the local produce. We returned to the kitchen (the cooking class is held outside if possible but it was particularly hot on this day so it was indoors) and our chef Thian (who was so sweet) helped us create four classic thai dishes in total, including thai green curry & the famous mango & sticky rice dessert! You also get a high-quality pack including an Anantara apron, recipe book (which we used in the class), wooden chopping board & certificate of completion. I think it lasted about 2-2.1/2 hours unlike some that can go on all day, although we much preferred this as it meant we could go back to exploring!
Another evening we went on the sunset river cruise (booked through the hotel but you board next door) which was a perfect way to celebrate our 5th anniversary together. We were greeted by our host who had some beautiful evening snacks (vietnamese rolls, chicken wings, samosas) & wine laid out for us. Trés romantique. We cruised 8km up the calm Ping river admiring the locals fishing & the riverside properties whilst watching the sun set. We stopped off at an organic restaurant which grew all sorts of organic fruits, vegetables & herbs, and being the health foodie that I am I was pretty engrossed in conversation during our tour with our captain about it! On return to our boat a lovely plate of fresh watermelon & pineapple was waiting for us… A truly wonderful experience, do it if you can!
OVERALL THOUGHTS: Lastly I would like to commend the staff who were most attentive during our stay, helped us with everything we needed including a swift check in, escorting us to our room & to the boat tour and also giving great recommendations on things to do. Also when we realised we had left it way to last minute to book an elephant sanctuary tour they went out of their way to book us an alternative one which ended up being far better and an experience of a lifetime at Patara Elephant Farm (a genuine sanctuary with lots of activities). We even had the pleasure of chatting with the General Manager on more then one occasion which reflects the excellent management of this Resort & Spa. We loved Chiang Mai (my new favourite destination) and staying here was the cherry on top. The Anantara Resort & Spa is friendly, convenient, relaxing, and a true luxury stay well deserving of it’s 5* status!