When researching the second edition of Luxurious Chiang Mai I was invited for a weekend to experience the serenity of Chiang Mai’s newest 5 star luxury hotel – Villa Mahabhirom. For even the most discerning traveller, the Thai villa’s are perfect.
From the exterior white wall skirting the the windy Soi Umong, the entrance gave nothing away to what lay within. The hotels name is displayed neatly on the wall itself, and those outside glimpse only part of an old, Thai villa. The security guard awaits guests with a large smile, and on the sunny Saturday morning he directed me to the adjacent parking lot, and then guarded me from the street’s traffic and into the complex. Upon entering, the busy street of scooters gets left behind, and I discovered a secret oasis, with Thai villas steeped in tradition but with a swirl of stylish modernity.
Villa Mahabhirom has been carefully cultivated for the last seven years, and the result today is a luxury hotel in Chiang Mai with a truly individual character. Every nook and cranny of Villa Mahabhirom has been filled with unique art pieces, while the layout has been artfully designed and crafted around beautiful Thai traditional houses that make up the rooms.
With 14 houses in total, Villa Mahabhirom is Chiang Mai’s smallest luxury hotel; but what it lacks in size, it offers in personality instead. The villas are over 100 years old, originally from the central region of Thailand, and have been elegantly transformed into plush bedrooms with comfortable seating areas, and large marble bathrooms with free standing bathtubs. The gabled rooftops of the villas have been redesigned to showcase traditional Thai roofs, and the clay tiles resemble those on the Buddhist Naga (snakes) statues found at many temples in Thailand. In the early morning these tiles illuminate as the sun’s morning rays fall through the gaps and wake each villa up gently.
Just as in ancient times, the upper part of the Thai villa was designed for sleeping, while the ground floor (which tends to be cooler in the daytime) is a space for living. Under each Thai villa is a cool, spacious open air room with sofas and art pieces from the owner’s private collection. The living rooms, as well as the public areas and the library, all offer a relaxed atmosphere that makes guests want to open up an interior design book rather than go outside sightseeing. If you stay at Villa Mahabhirom, you may never see the rest of Chiang Mai.
Villa Mahabhirom has done a marvelous job of capturing the essence of the traditional way of life of Thailand and adapting it to the high standards of luxury travellers. Rather than a typical hotel stay, guests of Villa Mahabhirom are treated to a unique experience and a chance to step into the traditions of Thai villas and local customs.