After experiencing the ultimate luxury at Tower Club at Lebua in Bangkok, I wasn't sure anything could surpass my experience there. But when I arrived at the Shangri-La in Chiang Mai, I instantly felt at home; calm, happy, and content. It's funny how childhood memories come flooding back, and just goes to show the importance of branding (and the same scent!) throughout every hotel. When I was younger my favourite holidays were spent at the Shangri-La in Singapore. We used to stop off enroute to Australia, and my brother and I adored the few days we'd spend there. The Shangri-La in Chiang Mai is one of the best five star hotels in Chiang Mai city, and I can certainly see why.
As soon as I was picked up from the airport I relaxed and felt so excited for the next part of my Thai adventure. It was so great to see a part of Thailand other than Bangkok, as the North is so very different. We pulled up to the hotel and straight away my door was opened for me while someone else removed my case from the boot and took it inside for me. I went to the front desk and a gentlemen walked me upstairs to the Horizon Club Lounge to check-in.
I sat down at the desk and checked-in, then went to my room on the 7th floor. Because I'm a Jade member of Shangri-La's Golden Circle, I was given a special room card that looked different to the normal ones, and waiting for me in my room was a bowl of fruit and a gorgeous L'Occitane wash-bag and toiletries. I had booked a Deluxe Room but was upgraded to a Deluxe Room with a Pool View (another perk of being a Jade member), and the view was pretty beautiful! I stood there for quite a while just taking in how incredible it was and how different to Bangkok it was.
The room itself was large (472sqft) and well-appointed with a huge king-sized bed, a desk and chair, two lounging chairs and a foot stall, a well-stocked mini-bar, and a beautiful huge bathroom with a separate shower and bath, and a sliding window shutter so you could open it and look through to the room (and the view!). The design of the room was gorgeous; a combination of contemporary and traditional Thai features and design aspects, with plenty of teakwood and silks to give a feel of Northern Thai 'Lanna Renaissance'.
The bed was super comfy and they have a pillow menu so you can choose which pillow you'd like! I had the comfiest pillow I've ever slept on (super fluffy - the type you just sink back into), it was actually amazing. After dropping off my case and having a look around the room I headed back up to the Horizon Club for breakfast before they closed. They had a good selection of cereals, fruit, pastries, and teas and juices, as well as a real block of honeycomb providing fresh honey!
I took a look at the menu, and ordered pancakes, maple syrup, and fruit. It was just what I needed!
The rest of the hotel was pretty incredible. The pool area was beautiful with a huge swimming pool, sun loungers, cabanas, and stunning lush landscaped gardens. I love how they bring everyone a tray with a huge pitcher of water, a plate of fruit, and two different types of suncream. It was such a lovely touch and really thoughtful!
Inside there was a huge bright and airy lobby with sofas and chairs, and a large bar. There's also the Kad Cafe which is their informal cafe where a huge and impressive buffet breakfast is held (I tried this on my last morning and it was honestly incredible, there was so much choice - including ice-cream!). And China Kitchen which is their fine dining restaurant. I don't know about you but I'm not a fan of eating in a fine dining restaurant alone, so despite the delicious looking (and very cheap) menu, I didn't try it.
The staff from start to finish were amazing. On the Saturday I went to the Elephant Nature Park, and they were running late picking me up but I didn't know. The doormen called them for me to find out where they were, and then when they finally arrived they opened the van door for me and stood there waving me off. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy, and the backpackers already in the van exclaimed 'Omg! They're so nice!'.
There were only two downsides to the hotel; in the rooms the only water that was complimentary was bottled water in glass bottles. Obviously these aren't exactly ideal to carry around with you during the day. However there's a 7-Eleven across the road where you can get plastic bottles for much cheaper than the mini-bar plastic bottles. The other downside was that there is currently major building work going on right next door. I didn't really hear much noise - only when outside and it wasn't too bad to be fair, however it's obviously a bit of a blot on that gorgeous landscape...
My stay at Shangri-La was incredible, and well worth the money. Everyone knows Thailand is super cheap, but with my room costing me around £350 for two nights (with my Jade membership this included the early check-in, room upgrade, and free breakfast each morning), this obviously isn't as cheap as the majority of other hotels in the city. I do however think this cost is justifiable; the hotel is stunning, and the service really is outstanding. When you're travelling alone in a new city that you've never visited before, it can be daunting, but it feels far more relaxed and enjoyable if you're staying somewhere that's familiar and makes you feels safe.
The Shangri-La felt like an oasis, it was tranquil, peaceful, the the perfect way to end my Thailand experience. I'm so glad I chose to stay there. Also, unlike the Mandarin Oriental and Lebua, they had a full-length mirror!!! Take a look at my room tour below, and don't forget to subscribe!
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