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Hotel Highlights

  • A peaceful, private, grown-up sanctuary
  • Art collection evokes times past; decor is modern luxe
  • Historic, central location

Overview

Rachamankha hotel brings Ancient Chiang Mai to life with the precise mix of modern luxuries and stylish accents honouring the area's rich hitstory. Reminiscent of a private compound, rooms with white walls and raw silks surround lush courtyards. A collection of Asian art and striking antiques amps up the simple approach to decor at this gorgeous hideaway.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Rachamankha with us:

A bottle of chilled sparkling wine on arrival

Special offers

Exclusive rates, packages and special offers at Rachamankha

Smith early-bird rate: Superior Room Early-bird rate: 25% off 3 nights for the price of 2

Facilities

View Gallery
Rachamankha Hotel –  Chiang Mai – Thailand

Need To Know

Rooms

24, including two suites.

Check–out

Check-out 12pm; check-in, 2pm, but both flexible subject to availability. Late check-outs up to 6pm are charged.

Rates

Double rooms from $251.33 (THB8,258), excluding tax at 17.8 per cent.

More details

Rates include à la carte breakfast and selected minibar drinks and snacks.

Also

Rachamankha is the personal project of interior designer and owner Rooj Changtrakul and his step-father, the award-winning Thai architect Ong-ard Satrabhandu. The main inspiration for the hotel is 15th-century Lanna architecture, although it also reflects the symmetry of Chinese design. The owner’s collection of art and antiquities is on display throughout the hotel and in the upstairs gallery.

At the hotel

Free WiFi throughout, book and DVD library, art and antiques gallery, massage pavilion, gardens, boutique. In rooms: LCD TV with satellite, DVD player, minibar, air-conditioning.

Our favourite rooms

The Two-bedroom Suites may have the space of an apartment – along with private access to the pool – but our pick would be a romantic Deluxe Room with silk-draped canopy bed.

Poolside

A delectable 20-metre turquoise-tiled pool with terracotta surrounds, day-beds under umbrellas and a massage pavilion for the ultimate in relaxation.

Packing tips

Relaxed and chic, Chiang Mai is a city built for exploring. Flat shoes for shopping, maxi-dresses for evenings out and something suitable for elephant trekking should all be in your case.

Also

Smoking is allowed in outdoor areas only. The hotel offers knot-kneading massages upstairs in a pavilion by the pool, as well as in-room treatments.

Children

Rachamankha isn't suitable for young 'uns; only over-12s can stay. A rollaway bed can be added to Deluxe Rooms and Suites.

Eco‐friendly

As it is inspired by ancient, vernacular design, Rachamankha is a cool, energy-efficient building. Solar-powered lighting is used and, with the exception of the GM, all staff members are local. The hotel sponsors community temples and schools.

Food & Drink

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Rachamankha Hotel –  Chiang Mai – Thailand

Hotel Restaurant

The elegant Rachamankha dining room is the only part of the hotel open to non-guests. Small and intimate with white linen-covered tables, Ming-style porcelain, Lanna-period antiquities and heavy silverware, it serves northern Thai and European food. Top tips are the deliciously fragrant Tai-Yai prawn soup and earthy lamb masala stir-fry.

Hotel Bar

Rachamankha’s bar, beside the restaurant, is a charming spot for a pre-dinner cocktail or a cup of the best coffee in town.

Last orders

Both the restaurant and bar see action until 10pm.

Room service

Light snacks and drinks are served from 6.30am–10pm.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Smart but pared down – it’s a city hotel not a beach resort.

Top table

One outside in the pretty courtyard.

Local Guide

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Rachamankha Hotel –  Chiang Mai – Thailand
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

Staying at the Rachamankha gives you immediate access to the ancient centre of Chiang Mai. There are more than 35 Buddhist temples on the doorstep and it’s a short stroll to the night market as well as the Sunday Walking Street. Hotel staff can help organise cooking classes and arrange trips to Doi Suthep to visit the hilltribe village and national parks. For the adventurous there’s mountain biking, white-water rafting, elephant trekking, horse riding, quad biking and hiking, and there are several five-star golf courses close by. The city offers some of the best shopping in Thailand: look for art and interior design at Nimmanhemin soi 1 and antiques, furniture and handicrafts at Hang Dong, which is a couple of kilometres outside town.

Local restaurants

Le Crystal (+66 (0)53 872 890), at 74/2 Paton Road, offers fine French dining in sophisticated chandelier-bedecked surroundings overlooking gardens and the Ping River. An old teak house by the water at 9 Charoenrat Road is the location for Riverside (+66 (0)53 243 239), a popular hang-out for locals and tourists with friendly service. The menu is long and includes tasty selections from all over the globe. Get there early to bag a quiet table by the river. There’s live music every night, and from about 10pm the place is heaving. The restored colonial villa that is home to The House (+66 (0)53 419 011), at 199 Moonmuang Road, was at the forefront of Chiang Mai’s renaissance as a style city. The food can be hit and miss, but it has a gorgeous atmosphere and the outdoor bar is a lovely spot for a drink.

Local bars

You don’t have to be a member of the press to visit the Writers Club & Wine Bar (141/3 Ratchadamnoen Road; +66 (0) 53 814 187; www.chiangmaiwritersclub.com), but if you want to know what’s going on in the city you should drop by, as there are often travel writers propping up the bar. There’s an excellent selection of wines and a menu that features local produce, including trout from Thailand's highest mountain Doi Ithanon, and venison and wild boar from the Lampang Province. As well as an extensive range of wines available by the glass or bottle, Darling Wine Pub (49/21 Huay Kaew Road; +66 (0) 53 227 427) offers excellent people-watching, since it’s located near a busy night market.

Local cafés

Those with a sweet tooth should visit Love At First Bite (28 Soi 1, Th Chiang Mai-Lamphun; +66 (0) 53 242 731) for the enormous range of cakes, including the much-loved chocolate town cake and blueberry cheesecake. The excellent fair-trade coffee at Lanna Cafe (81 Huai Kaew Road; +66 (0) 53 266 349) comes from hilltribe growers in northern Thailand. The sandwiches and salads are good, too.

+ Enlarge
Inside the Old City

Rachamankha

6 Rachamankha 9, Phra Singh, Chiang Mai, Thailand 50200

Rachamankha is located within the walls of Chiang Mai’s Old City, about 70 metres from the south wall of revered temple Wat Phra Singh.

Planes

There are dozens of daily flights between Thai capital Bangkok and Chiang Mai in the north of the country. You can also fly direct from neighbouring Laos and Myanmar, and Malaysia and Singapore.

Trains

If you have the time, take the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai (www.railway.co.th). Cool and comfortable, it’s a totally different way to see the country. Depending on the service, it takes about 12 hours.

Automobiles

Rachamankha is a 15-minute drive from the airport. Transfers cost THB300 a room each way.

Reviews

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Rachamankha Hotel –  Chiang Mai – Thailand

Anonymous review

By Mr & Mrs Smith.

There is something a little Matrix about him,’ Mr Smith whispers, peering down the panelled library towards its adjoining study, where a trim, serious-looking man pours over building plans through the kind of over-sized, owlish spectacles only creative folk with good haircuts can wear. We’re talking about the Architect – the impossibly suave, linen-suited co-owner and designer of…
Read more

Rachamankha

By Mr & Mrs Smith.

There is something a little Matrix about him,’ Mr Smith whispers, peering down the panelled library towards its adjoining study, where a trim, serious-looking man pours over building plans through the kind of over-sized, owlish spectacles only creative folk with good haircuts can wear. We’re talking about the Architect – the impossibly suave, linen-suited co-owner and designer of Chiang Mai’s Rachamankha hotel. He looks up, sees us huddled at the other end of the long refectory table and stands to close the door with the smallest and most inscrutable of nods.

Mr Ong-ard Satrabhandu is indeed a powerful and influential man in Thai architectural circles, but his pet project the Rachamankha is an alternative reality of altogether more benign proportions. So serene and timeless are its generous courtyards, sweeping temple-like roofs and thick, whitewashed walls that it comes as a genuine shock to discover the whole compound has been built new from the ground up on a previously derelict but fantastically located old city block only within the last decade. Homaging heyday Lanna (15th-century northern Thai) style in its design principles, it is also stuffed full of Chinese and local antiques – scroll boxes, temple paraphernalia, exquisite prints – both inside the cosy, intimate rooms and beyond in the public areas. With Chiang Mai succumbing to some of Bangkok’s modern day vices of pollution, traffic gridlock and Lonely Planet-toting backpackers, the hotel truly earns the otherwise tired epithet of an oasis of calm.

But we get organised quickly with two wheels and some propulsion, as we’re only here for a couple of days (although it’s hard to call the 50cc matchbox we rent a motorbike, and while whole Thai families and their pets perch effortlessly on theirs, I spend most of the day hanging on to Mr Smith’s love handles with my bum barely off the bitumen).

Chiang Mai is pretty idiot proof – it’s a square with a moat – but it does have a complicated one-way system, so there are a few Mr Bean moments before we locate our first destination – an arts and craft shopping street, Nimmanhemin Soi 1, just outside the old city precincts. My favourite boutique is a cavernous gallery space strewn with contemporary textiles purporting to fuse the half-Japanese, half-Thai heritage of the artist with the traditional weaving techniques and fabrics of the area. Mr Smith just thinks it’s an overpriced ethnic cushion shop, but the French proprietor is charm personified and soon we are stroking wall-hangings over a fizzy orange drink and wondering about Australian customs.

Emboldened, we explore more – a Burmese art gallery here, a deserted Chinese temple there, a King and I municipal square complete with Victorian-looking street lights while we’re at it. Eventually we find our way to glam expat hang-out, House, where lime granita cocktails and street Thai finger food quickly assuage the weariness of open-air transport and a million fellow travellers. We return to our Rachamankha paradise rather pleased with ourselves and not a little tipsy; we are asleep in air-conditioned comfort in a nanosecond.

Day Two is the last of our holiday and we wake in a very different frame of mind, barely stirring beyond our room and the long, generous pool other than to stroll across the courtyard for lunch. The Rachamankha’s restaurant is well-respected in its own right, and we are pleased to see the Architect holding court as we enter. Pan-Asian dishes reign supreme; we mix piquant Thai fish cakes with deliciously rich Burmese curry, but guiltily indulge later, outside in the pretty courtyard as the sun sets, in a skyscraper-high club sandwich and the best chips in Thailand. I’m even more ashamed to say tomato ketchup has made its way to the Golden Triangle.

Nightfall – and a slight drop in temperature – stirs a final burst of energy and we venture out again, this time on foot, into the old city. Our slower pace makes clear just how culturally rich this town is. Still outnumbering 7-Elevens, temples lurk on every corner – wooden, brick, gaudy, serene. I pick one with the lights on and the amplified chanting of monks in prayer. Quietly we enter and adopt a lop-sided lotus position at the back, leaving our shoes outside eyed hopefully by the kampong dogs. The young novices turn round to stare but soon rejoin the flow of the repeating mantras. It’s wonderfully hypnotic – Matrix-like in its own way – and soon even the dogs pad in and collapse in the enveloping sensuality of it all, a string of canine crescents along the wall.

We reinstall ourselves in the library the next morning waiting to transfer to the airport. It really is one of the most convivial and contemplative hotel libraries in the world, largely by virtue of it actually being a library, rather than the designer furniture showroom with expensive coffee-table books beloved of so many other elite retreats. As if to prove the point, the Architect appears, opens one of the glass-panelled cabinets and takes out a tome. He looks sideways at us and tilts his head slowly. This time his nod seems more knowing, almost playful, as if a truth previously withheld is now clear to us all.
 

The Guestbook

Reviews of Rachamankha from Smith members

Whenever you book a stay through us, we’ll invite you to comment when you get back. Read the Guestbook entries below to see what real-life Mr & Mrs Smiths have said about this hotel…

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The staff were very friendly and welcoming. The hotel restaurant had really nice food and a great selection for breakfast. The location was great and within walking distance to most things but also easy to pick up local transportation. It was a very peaceful escape in the middle of the old town.

Don’t expect

We went during the rainy season so insects were bad. It would be nice if the hotel provide insect repellent for the room.

Rating: 8/10 stars