A grand Lanna-style luxury getaway located just a short stroll from Chiang Mai’s famed shopping district
Tucked away from the street, and the often frenetic Night Bazaar market area, the Shangri-La Chiang Mai hotel houses attractions that suffice to make a holiday unto themselves. All rooms are sophistically decorated, merging traditional Thai teakwood furniture with 5-star luxuriousness. The property accommodates not only tourists exploring the city, but also long-stay visitors and business travellers. The stunning Executive Suites cater to the needs of the latter, while the palatial 215 sq.m Presidential Suite has all the attributes of a magnificent ‘Lanna Renaissance’ family home.
Follow the labyrinthine walkways through the hotel and you’ll discover an opulently styled ballroom, convention rooms, and a 99-seat auditorium with stage and projector for conferences, workshops, as well as musical and theatrical performances. Outside, a fastidiously manicured garden replete with an array of local flora will take you to the city’s largest swimming pool and a rooftop tennis court. From there you can head to a fully-equipped gym where you can also avail yourself of a steam room, Jacuzzi and sauna.
The hotel’s main dining area serves breakfast and dinner buffets, a cornucopia of Asian and Western dishes pre-prepared or made to order. Adjacent stands the Lobby Lounge bar, an eatery and coffee shop in the daytime and sometimes animated hang-out during the evening.
Perhaps one of the most outstanding achievements of the Shangri-La of late is its fairly new Szechuan cuisine restaurant, China Kitchen. Offering garden-side, as well as private dining, this restaurant has become the talk-of-the-town since its opening just over a year ago. Much of the success garnered from critics and regular customers alike is due to the veteran Chinese award-winning Chef Chen Jiang Ming. One time extolled by China’s Vice Prime Minister of the State Council for his cooking prowess, Chef Chen moved to Chiang Mai and has gained the respect of the city’s foodies and visiting tourists.
Chen recently unveiled a new menu—a host of sometimes simple, sometimes audacious Szechuan dishes, taking traditional elements of Szechuan cooking but adding his own signature to each dish. For the unfamiliar, this cuisine is noted for its playful, sometimes surprising mix of pungent flavours, infused with Szechuan peppers and garlic. Diners less accustomed to the bite of hot peppers might want to go for dishes such as the traditional roasted Peking duck, or the mouth-watering braised pork with preserved vegetable. The latter is first deep-fried and then slow-cooked in its own tantalizing juices, and served with steamed Chinese dumplings. A restaurant favourite, and a dish with some amount of bite to it, is the steamed glutinous rice with shrimps in a basket. Similar to a Spanish paella, guests are invited to mix all the ingredients together, including the spicy peppercorns. Testament to this innovative restaurant and its charismatic dishes is the fact that on any given day its patrons are local Chinese people or tourists on visits from the mainland.
Apart from fine dining, relaxation is also on the menu here and in the herb garden at the back of the hotel is where you’ll find Chi, the Spa, a truly quiescent tract of the hotel dedicated to traditional Asian natural healing. The reception area is built in the style of an ancient Lanna building whose stand-out feature is a red dome pinnacle brightly lit when the sun shines—which it almost always does in Chiang Mai during the daytime.
All guests of the spa will be invited into this Lannastyle villa. The renowned Thai massage is often why people visit spas in Thailand, and at Chi guests can have their massage treatments tailored to their needs. For those seeking two hours of gentler, curative bliss—quite unlike traditional Thai massage, which is based on stretching and kneading muscles—a soothing oil massage is recommended. Other treatments include body scrubs, skin polishes, and facial treatments.
To enhance your stay at the Shangri-La, and somewhat spoil yourself, guests can become part of the Horizon Club. Located on the 11th floor, this exclusive realm offers astounding views of the city, as well as coffee and snacks served all day. For visitors with serious unfinished business, desks and PCs are available from morning until night, while a dedicated staff fluent in various languages can help out with any needs you may have.
The evening brings the chimes of the Happy Hour at Horizon Lounge, when for a couple of hours guests can avail themselves of free flow wines, beers, mixed drinks (you can pour them yourself if so inclined), soft drinks, and a large selection of cocktails to order. During happy hour a smorgasbord of light eats are also on offer, including a cheese board, cured meats, breads, pickles, vegetables, canapes, cakes and more.
by James Austin Farrell
Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai
89/8 Muang, Chang Klan Rd. | Tel: 053 253 888