137 Pillars House Chiang Mai offers a glamorous taste of northern Thailand

Cathy Wagstaff checks in to 137 Pillars House in Chiang Mai for a glamorous taste of northern Thailand – past, present and future.

137 Pillars House Chiang Mai is surrounded by lush tropical rainforest on the outskirts of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. The 30-room hotel offers a soothing selection of wellness therapies and nature-focused activities. The romance of the colonial period has been so beautifully preserved at this boutique property – which, true to its name, features 137 pillars of teak in its gloriously glam foundations. This glossy tropical hardwood stars throughout interiors and exteriors, accented with elephant-printed cotton cushions and large celadon urns.

137 Pillars House Chiang Mai is a stunning wellbeing retreat
Traditional Thai Villas at 137 Pillars House

Relax in serene suites

The luxurious suites at 137 Pillars House Chiang Mai offer comfort and relaxation with a touch of Thai elegance. There are five distinct suites, from the one-bedroom Rajah Brooke Suite to the ultra-luxe Louis Leonowens Pool Suite, each complete with its own private pool.

Each suite features an outdoor living space with hand-crafted furniture overlooking tropical gardens. Inside, you will find a large en-suite dressing room with a walk-in closet, separate indoor-outdoor garden showers, and a Victorian bathtub.

I am staying in the East Borneo Suite, replete with a king bed with a pillow menu and Egyptian cotton sheets, rattan chairs and an alfresco shower. My favourite space is the plush outdoor lounge on the vintage tiled balcony, where I enjoy breakfast while watching birds in the tropical gardens. The suite has a huge walk-in closet and an expansive dressing area leading into the bathroom with an indulgent freestanding bathtub.

The D.F. Macfie suite at wellbeing retreat 137 Pillars House Chiang Mai
The living room of the D.F. Macfie Suite is just as serene as its surroundings

Wellbeing

At 137 Pillars House Chiang Mai, you can nourish your mind, body and soul while swimming in the lap pool, exercising in the modern gym, practising yoga and during treatments at Nitra Serenity Centre.

Every treatment at Nitra Serenity Centre is designed to relax and revitalise. Therapists will expertly buff, polish and massage your body until it gleams. The spa’s signature treatment involves a herbal hot press, an aromatherapy massage and a detoxifying facial. Bliss.

Relaxing massage with hot stones
Visit the Nitra Serenity Centre for relaxation

Dining at 137 Pillars House Chiang Mai

The hotel has four dining options offering excellent cuisine. Palette-served Italian meals made with the freshest of farm-to-kitchen ingredients and an extensive wine list to pair with dishes like truffle tagliatelle and prawn pasta with lemon vodka sauce. Fest on Thai and Lanna cuisine and breakfast in the dining room, enjoy high tea served in the gardens and have a tipple at Jack Bain’s Bar – specialising in old-world classics. One afternoon I joined executive chef Lakana Suakeaw to discover how to make made gaeng keow wan gai (green curry with chicken and eggplant) and som tam, a green papaya salad with the perfect balance of sweet and sour.

Sustainability

As dreamy as the estate is, where it really stands out is in its commitment to making Thailand a more sustainable destination, whether that’s through support for the local community with cultural tours and visits to galleries or excursions to the city’s Elephant Nature Park, a rescue and rehabilitation sanctuary that the hotel helps fund. The initiative was spearheaded by 137 Pillars general manager Anne Arrowsmith, one of the most inspirational hoteliers you’ll come across. There’s no patting, feeding or riding elephants here – the focus is purely on the conservation of these gentle giants and the habitats they call home through generous donations from hotel guests. Meeting them and seeing them thrive, gives me goosebumps.

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