Anantara Chiang Mai
There are so many great places to stay in Chiang Mai at every price point, but I knew I made the right decision when I arrived at Anantara Chiang Mai.
The best part about staying at this hotel is the exceptional staff, who goes above and beyond to serve and make sure your stay is special. The concierge arranged a comfortable airport transfer for us which included fresh towels and water for the short ride. We would become very familiar with this ritual in Thailand.
I booked the Kasara Suite room for a great deal on Agoda.com, which is an Asian based online retailer owned by the Priceline Group. The Kasara Suite room includes access to the Kasara Club Lounge for speedy check-in and daily evening reception including drinks and small plates. At arrival to the Kasara Club Lounge, the staff had already heard about our lost luggage and assured us that they would take care of all of the details to have it returned.
We were then guided down a dimly lit corridor to a luxurious open concept room in which I have never had so many beds to choose from. First there is the massive pillowtop king bed, complete with turndown service. Across the feng shui inspired room is an interior day bed for escaping the mid-day heat. The blackout shades help to keep the room cool and ensure a relaxing sleep at night. Finally, to enjoy the full zen vibe of the hotel, you can lounge outside on the patio day bed sipping on a fresh coconut water with views of the river that runs through the city.
The room also includes a large bathroom with his and her sinks, a rainshower, and a large bathtub complete with heavenly smelling bath salts for a relaxing soak. We only stayed a few nights, but we appreciated the wet bar and spacious closet for storing our things. The best feature, for our circumstances, was the free laundry service included with the Kasara Suite. After 24 hours in the same warm weather clothes during our travels from Houston to Beijing and the unexpectedly lengthy journey to Hong Kong (read about it here), we were so thankful to have them cleaned before we packed them back in our suitcase.
The hotel is conveniently located on the river for a relaxing vibe, but is really only a short walk or cheap tuk tuk ride from the popular markets and restaurants. Here you can buy all of the elephant pants that you desire... seriously everyone is wearing them. Beware that you can pay anywhere from $3 at various market stalls up to $30 dollars in the most touristy shops.
For lunch or dinner, I highly recommend visiting Lemongrass for the best Thai food you will ever have. This is a busy place, for a good reason, so its best to come for a late lunch or early dinner.
You cannot go wrong with the chicken satay, and that peanut sauce gives me life! I also love ordering the Thai iced tea. This delicious orange drink is actually naturally colored by the special tea leaf used to make it, however in the US it is usually dyed with food coloring. Of course, if you are an adventurous eater, you can fill up on various street food dishes as you wander the markets, shops and local temples.
Speaking of where to eat, my favorite thing about Anantara Chiang Mai is the AMAZING food. It was my first experience with an Asian style breakfast and I surprisingly loved it! Early each morning we would head to the riverfront patio for an epic breakfast buffet plus a la carte menu options that you can order from the best waitstaff.
I filled my plate with fresh salad, jasmine rice, all types of sausage, dumplings and stir fry dishes, the freshest fruit and then did my best to squeeze some western style foods on my plate like apple cinnamon waffles, fresh pastries, eggs and bacon. I also enjoyed the assortment of fresh exotic fruit juices like lychee, guava, mango and orange.
Finally, I had done my best to plan our trip during the iconic fall lantern festival and we had the pleasure of celebrating this annual full moon event with Anantara, which you can read more about here. We had such an amazing stay with this hotel that I now look for Anantara properties whenever I travel in Asia.
While Thailand's famous beaches are beautiful, I would honestly go back to Chiang Mai in a heart beat for the amazing food, culture, and many activities.