I recently stayed for just one night at the Ayatana Hamlet and Spa (now renamed as B2 Ayatana Premier Resort), but I wish it could have been longer. This is certainly one of the most beautiful hotels I have ever stayed in. I’d originally booked to stay at the Tri Yaan Na Ros Colonial House, but on arrival there I was told they were unable to fulfil my booking. Apparently they had a problem with a burst pipe a few days before in one of the rooms (they only have 8 guest rooms) and all of the other rooms were fully booked. They say that they had notified Agoda (who I’d booked with), but Agoda failed to tell me. The staff at the Tri Yaan Na Ros were charming and very apologetic and the hotel looked lovely, so I’d definitely like to stay there at some point in the future. This is all well and good, but I still had no hotel room! Anyway, the upshot of a very long story is that Agoda agreed to let me stay at the more expensive Ayatana Hamlet (B2 Ayatana Premier Resort) for no additional charge.
The Ayatana is situated in the west of Chiang Mai city, just off Suthep Road. Although it’s in the city, it actually feels like being in the countryside because the hotel is situated in a very quiet soi not far from the forest temple of Wat Umong. I wanted to stay at a boutique hotel in a quiet location so for me this was perfect. However, if you want to be close to the popular tourist areas you’d be better off looking for somewhere else, but for a quiet retreat or romantic getaway it is ideal. It’s a ten minute walk to Suthep Road if you want to catch a tuk-tuk or songthaew, although the hotel does provide a transfer service to the Night Bazaar in the evening.
Without exception, the staff were wonderful. The lady at reception when I booked in was delightful and the welcome drink and cold towel on arrival was greatly appreciated. The hotel manager went out of his way to introduce himself personally, which I thought was a nice touch. The Ayatana does have quite a homely feel to it and speaking to the manager it’s clear that he takes great pride in what is quite a unique hotel.
The first thing that struck me on opening the door to my room was the beautiful aroma that greeted me and from there on it just got better and better. The standard room that I stayed in was exquisite so the suites must be incredible. It doesn’t take too much to keep me happy with a hotel room, so long as it is clean and the bed reasonably comfortable. Well, the room was spotlessly clean and the bed was huge and probably the most comfortable I’ve slept in anywhere.
The attention to detail throughout was fantastic. In fact, I spent 30 minutes wandering around the room and taking photos of everything! The murals on the wall were hand-painted by art students at the nearby Chiang Mai University. Depicting traditional life in northern Thailand, the murals are stunning and every room has its own unique design.
The bathroom was large and featured a rain shower which I could have stayed under for hours. The products (soap, shaving cream etc.) provided were of very high quality and overall it was clear that no area has been skimped with fantastic attention to detail. There was even a small outside area separate from the shower with the option of washing yourself in traditional Thai style (i.e. pouring cold water over yourself from a large vase!).
Other room facilities included a hairdryer, a refrigerator, a large drinks cabinet and a kettle for tea and coffee. The TV cabinet was also supplied with a DVD player.
The swimming pool is big and inviting as is the whirlpool although both were a little bit on the chilly side when I visited. Almost as inviting is the poolside bar which serves drinks and snacks. One of the really nice features about the Ayatana is the sala style sitting areas draped with cotton covers that provide a blissful area to relax with a drink or a good book. At night the grounds are beautifully lit up with the option of dining outside.
I didn’t use the spa or massage service, but it’s there if anyone wants it and if the rest of the hotel is anything to go by I’m sure the service is excellent. On check-out the hotel provided free transport and I believe this is also available to pick-up guests arriving in Chiang Mai.
I used the hotel restaurant in the evening and the food was excellent. It wasn’t cheap, but nor was it expensive by hotel standards. The Thai food hadn’t been toned down for Western palettes and retained all of its spice and flavour. Breakfast the following morning was also excellent and was pre-ordered the night before by filling out a small card which had an extensive choice of cereals, bacon, egg, fruit etc. If I had one small criticism of the restaurant it would be that it had a limited choice of evening meals. Of course, there is always the option of walking ten minutes to Suthep Road where there are a huge number of local eateries.
A superb hotel that I would recommend for anybody wanting a quiet retreat or romantic break.
Marks: 9 (out of 10)
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