Chiang Mai is somewhat of a hidden gem in Thailand, everyone squeezes in a visit to Bangkok and usually some beach town but not everyone knows that the real must-see town is Chiang Mai, nicknamed the “Rose of the North” for its beauty, I think this was my favorite place in Thailand. It really encapsulates the culture and you get to appreciate the city’s natural beauty. It feels truly authentic.
Chiang Mai is about an hour flight from the bustling Bangkok and a must-see if you’re in the region. It is the cultural capital of Thailand with so many things to do (temples, elephant rides, cultural villages, Tiger camp) The Four Seasons Chiang Mai is absolutely the height of extravagant beauty and after checking out a few other hotels in the area for my Fodor’s assignment (See Press Page on Luxury Southeast Asia Escapes), I can tell you first hand that the Four Seasons is the place to stay.
The Four Seasons is located in Mae Rim just outside of the city of Chiang Mai (and don’t worry you do not want to stay downtown if you’re looking for a relaxing honeymoon. The resort offers free shuttle buses daily every hour and you’ll be excited to come back to the gorgeous hotel. It’s only about 30 minutes, some sites say one hour and that’s not true. You’ll want to go to Chiang Mai night bazaar one night probably. I was worried we would want to be there every night. You do not). The Four Seasons encapsulates relaxation and authentic Thai Culture. The property features traditional Thai temple-inspired architecture and is an oasis of serene luxury that will truly make you enjoy the countryside. The property’s layout is reminiscent of a Thai village and surrounds a working rice farm. The setting is just so idyllic, you feel like you’ve stepped into a painting.
Here is a shot of the pool at night. Every Thursday (at the time of this review) they hold a cocktail reception around the pool for guests (drinks are included). The staff at the hotel was exception, as you would expect from a Four Seasons, at the party, the upper management circulates the party and greets guests, making sure you’re enjoying everything to the fullest. This was a great time garner information about the city from local’s perspectives (in addition to the wonderful concierge, but I always like asking as many people as I can). This is how we found out about Tiger Camp (one of my favorite activities ever).
Rooms were extremely spacious, clean and of course decorated in traditional Thai-influences. My favorite thing about Four Seasons are how they take in the local culture in creating each feature at their hotels. It makes your stay feel authentic while allowing you to live in the lap of luxury. The bathroom. It was enormous. Love the double sinks. There was also a separate shower and enormous bathtub. You can’t tell from the photo but it was enormous with a closet and a bench in the center, which I thought was the height of heaven. Who gets to just sit down and relax in their bathroom? Who, I ask you? Rich people. And guests here. L’Occitane soaps were provided and every night there was fresh bottled water by the sink. If you’re crazy like me, you didn’t even want to brush your teeth with anything but purified water.The Balcony. Clearly a very happy girl. Here guests could enjoy private moments alone while still enjoying the outdoors. Right behind this bench there was a waterfall (which turns off at night so it doesn’t bother guests) which we watched as we enjoyed sunset in privacy. You could also order a privately catered dinner to your room and eat it outside. This is available 24 hours a day, which I think is amazing.Watching the Sunset from our romantic balcony.Entrance to ratree, Bar and Lounge. We had cocktails here, I was kind of turned off by the name until I learned that it’s a type of jasmine. (Never judge a book by its cover mantra repeats in my head). This bar is Thai-style, they serve wine, creative cocktails and a wide range of snacks. My favorite was a cocktail made of Mango Sticky Rice (best dish ever). Another really nice amenity here is that guests can buy a bottle of wine or liquor and store the remainder for future visits during their stay.Dinner at the Four Seasons Chiang Mai. Sala Mae Rim. Dinner here was outstanding and the cocktails were great as well. I especially loved the vegetarian options, tofu and vegetarian noodles. Breakfast is served in this restaurant as well. We did not eat at Terraces because well, this was our first stop in Thailand and I wanted to get my hands on all the pad thai I could take! The restaurant itself is beautiful and I would have been happy having every meal in here, it has a high teak ceiling and the restaurant is filled with Thai artifacts, but perhaps the best feature of this restaurant is the gorgeous view of the Mae Rim valley and the hotel’s rice paddy.Playing with my new best friend, the property’s water buffalo. This guy actually works in the rice paddies on property. I gave him a sweet sendoff before he started his day. Not pictured: me actually kissing him. My husband was freaking out that I did this. He was just that adorable!Chopping and peeling at our cooking class through the Four Seasons cooking school right on the property. Check out the beautiful open-air kitchen. It’s a little on the pricey side, it’s about $200 per person but the class is super long, you start at 7am with a tour of the local markets, which is quite educational. You also get to try lots of fun things and learn what they are. My husband ate a worm! Ick! But trust me, there were far scarier ways to go there…The cooking school is so professional that professionals in the area come here specifically to take this class. We had a man in our class who was staying at the property for a week, sent by his employer to take the class. I wish my job sent me here! Hmm, well I guess in a way it did.All our hard work was worth it! I will say this, if you’re not really looking to learn how to cook and really put in the work, you may want to know that this class went until almost 2pm by the time we were done eating so it’s really a full day. Just something to consider when booking. We thought we’d be done by noon. It almost cut into our massages. Phew, crisis averted.The property has rice paddies and they are actually functioning, here are some of the workers. I felt kind of terrible relaxing while watching them work but they seem pretty happy. Every day at 5pm on the dot they ring a bell and it’s quittin’ time. Better hours than most I guess.The spa here was truly a wonderful and must-do experience. Even our guide here who showed us around told us that we simply MUST go to the spa here. She said, best in the country and she was right. Many of their treatments incorporate ancient Thai rituals, using native herbs and oils. They actually grow these in their own garden, which I think is stellar. I am a sucker for anything organically and locally grown.Here is a relaxation area on the way to the treatment rooms. Just lovely. Five Star luxury but totally authentic again.One of my favorite things about the Four Seasons brand is the little surprise extras that they always hit you with. Here I am, just kickin’ it playing Jenga poolside after my massage. A few minutes later two employees came by and offered us complimentary 10-minute poolside massages. This was followed by chocolate covered frozen bananas brought to us to enjoy in the sun. These little surprises really make it such a lovely experience.Here are the workers leaving the rice paddies, they play music as they leave. I just thought it was cool.Just a sampling of the tropical fruit offered by the breakfast buffet, which was amazing (and included in the price of our room). Jackfruit, mango and passionfruit were always what I started my day with…before I ordered eggs benedict. Here, while the buffet was good, I don’t think it was as comprehensive as some other Southeast Asian hotels. Where they have them beat though is that there is a large menu that is included of things that are made-to-order like smoked salmon bagels, eggs benedict, pancakes, etc. The food was delicious.
If I had to complain about anything it would of course be how pricey it is, but you get what you pay for and I believe that you truly do here. This is just one of the nicest hotels in the world, no doubt. The rooms, while nice could be a due a bit of a refresher. While everything is crisp and clean, they could upgrade a few bathroom amenities but this is only if you’re forcing me to pick out something that could be improved. I honestly did not find anything wrong with the rooms at all.Have you ever seen a more gorgeous pool?
The resort also features a decent fitness center. Guests can also use of the tennis court or free bicycle rentals are provided. They actually will give you little tours that you can take.
Check out our review on the Four Seasons Koh Samui if you’re thinking of going there. It’s a wonderful place and we highly recommend. These two properties are definitely two of the finest hotels in the world.
I am always happy to answer questions for readers, just ask me in the comments!
For more information about the Four Seasons Chiang Mai visit their website.
*I received a press rate while staying at this hotel but it was a very small discount. As always all opinions contained herein are my own.