Timeless elegance, serenity and tranquility in Chiang Mai’s Old City
To understand and appreciate the immense charm and uniqueness of Chiang Mai you have to stay in the Old City. Originally surrounded by moats and city walls Chiang Mai’s old city is the same dimension as the City of London, just 1 square mile. There is not a lot of traffic in the old city and it is safe to explore the myriad of lanes on foot or by bicycle. It is a fascinating concoction of tradition, culture and religion combined with funky cafes, restaurants bars and shops all jumbled side by side! Additionally, its location makes Chiang Mai an enviable destination for a vast range of excursions and activities both within the city and into the surrounding regions.
Originally a backpackers’ destination, Chiang Mai has come of age and offers a vast wealth of accommodation from simplistic to luxury. The old city does not have any high-rise buildings favouring boutique style hotels often hidden behind their perimeter walls. On this occasion I chose to stay at the Bodhi Serene hotel, a stylish and well established hotel with an excellent location, charming Lanna style and general ambience of quality, style and class. The location is perfect! You feel the special atmosphere of old Chiang Mai the minute you walk into the street. Turn right and right again onto Ratchamanka, Wat Pha Khao is on your left and a short walk will bring you to the old city walls. Turn left to Tha Phae Gate or straight to Loi Kroh and it’s a straight walk to the night market. Bicycles are available from reception, the Thai Baht Buses(Songthaew) pass by regularly and the hotel will assist you with all your transportation.
The Bodhi Serene hotel has around 50 rooms all facing the central garden feature. It is exquisitely tranquil, classy and relaxing. It is not a modernistic style boutique hotel rather an older Duchess, proud of who she is and growing more stylish with age! The Reception area is simple and informal with staff who are eager to please every guest and make their stay most memorable. You may notice that that staff are quite unobtrusive and keep a low profile in comparison to other Thai hotels, however you will find that their level of service is excellent and they quickly remember your requirements and special wishes
There are 4 different styles/sizes of rooms in addition to one and 2-bedroom suites. I had booked a Deluxe room on the first floor. The rooms is typical of the building, beautiful antique teak floors with simple yet classy furnishings. Large bathroom, tea/coffee making facilities, large king-sized bed, big screen tv, desk for working and a large balcony with Lanna style seating to enjoy the evening breeze. Don’t expect any fancy trimmings, the room is clean, functional yet very comfortable in that unique older, classic style. Bathroom amenities are adequate and I enjoyed a very good nights sleep thanks to the comfortable bed and exquisite, high quality bed linen and pillows. The rooms also feature a mini safe large enough to store a laptop when you are out exploring the local streets.
The pace of life within the walls of the Bodhi Serene is sedate, quiet and relaxing. Most guests appear to take off early on excursions and there is a sense of timeless tranquillity around the garden and its water features during the day. There is a reasonable sized pool on the first floor with sun beds and attentive service from the Pool Bar staff. The pool terrace is an excellent vantage point to enjoy the Chiang Mai sunsets. The breakfast is served in the open. It has an extensive choice with both western favourites and traditional Thai, with something for everyone. Staff are attentive without being ‘in your face’ and all requests were met with a smile and acted upon immediately.
If you are looking for a funky, modern boutique hotel then the Bodhi Serene is probably not for you, however if you are looking for quiet and informal elegance, classical Thai Lanna style and quality accommodation combined with excellent staff and an admirable location within the Old City, then the Bodhi Serene in Chiang Mai is to be highly recommended. Ideal for couples or families looking for quality time together in a serene and classic style of traditional Thai hospitality. Book your stay now at the Bodhi Serene, Chiang Mai