Within moments of walking into the sun-filled lobby of the Akyra Manor Chiang Mai, a lychee martini was placed in my hand. I had arrived on foot after meandering through a maze of colorful design boutiques and art galleries in the trendy Nimman neighborhood.
And when I turned on Soi 9, the beloved, local "coffee street," I could see the Akyra Manor's glowing frame, wrapped in strips of wood.
In the lobby, giant, golden candelabras sprouted up to the ceiling, a shared space with the hotel's Italian restaurant, Italics, one of the few joints in town that serves brick-oven pizza.
The 30-room hotel has been carefully curated piece by piece by Thailand-based Akaryn Hotel Group and Singaporean design house Manor Studio. It's no surprise it earned its status as a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World even before it opened in late 2015. Thanks to hotel manager Christophe Gestin, there's always a cherry on top.
The bedroom of a Deluxe Suite guestroom.
"We thought it would be special to develop a signature scent," Gestin said, reminding me to smell the custom-made hand soap in my bathroom, explaining the ethos of Small Luxury hospitality. It was a tiny, charming accent; a peach-colored orb that looked like a small, handmade sculpture on an earthy slate.
The gentle aroma enveloped me when I entered my deluxe room, face to face with a massive, white bathtub akin to a giant cereal bowl. It was situated on the balcony, between the bathroom and the bedroom, an airy design that provided the option of full privacy with shades that lowered with the click of a button. Like the entire property, the ethos was clean and classy, accented with pops of color and sparkling metallics. Blacks and whites dominated, save for the red, patterned chair and matching blanket folded on the foot of the bed, which was covered with 430-thread-count, Egyptian cotton sheets.
A medley of local fruit and crunchy Thai rice cakes sat beside the fully stocked minibar. That afternoon when I returned from a walk, a surprise awaited: fresh coconut milk and pineapple juice to use to mix my own cocktails, a daily ritual with a rotating menu. I'm not a big drinker so I enjoyed the refreshment without alcohol, but I am a big sleeper so I browsed the impressive pillow menu. That evening I sipped the Thai herbal drink placed bedside each night and ordered a firm, grass-blend pillow with a lavender mist.
Gestin has committed the hotel to supporting local arts; award-winning local and international artworks are featured throughout on each floor and in the rooms. Local art classes and extended art retreats are offered to guests.
The chic rooftop bar was the final stop on my last evening in Chiang Mai. The stunning, transparent infinity pool dominated the space, overlooking the bustling city. I watched the sun disappear over the Doi Suthep mountain, coconut in hand. Of the young property, Gestin said, "We already have regulars."
Rates begin at $308. See www.theakyra.com/chiang-mai.