What is it? Tucked away in the back streets of the historic Wat Gate area, this luxury boutique hotel brings more than a dash of colonial glamour to Chiang Mai, northern Thailand.

Opened in March, the 30-suite hotel is centred on a huge, century-old teak house built by the British-owned Borneo Company, which controlled the timber trade here as far back as the 1880s. Its first occupant was Louis Leonowens, whose mother, Anna, was the English governess made famous in the film The King And I. These days, this property houses the hotel’s lounge, library and gym, while the spa and the guest suites occupy adjacent buildings.

Why here? British timber merchants were confined to living on the Wat Gate side of the river as part of an 1883 logging agreement signed by King Chulalongkorn, Leonowens’ childhood friend. Other teakwood houses here have been turned into cafes, art galleries and boutiques.

What’s the ambience like? The teakwood house has wide verandas, cane shades, rattan furniture and an alluring feel of yesteryear. Its common areas are lavish, dimly lit dens that conjure up images of the 19th-century colonial lifestyle.

What about the rooms? Colonial chic. Think polished floorboards, quality timber furniture and woven textiles.

Claw-foot Victorian baths are reminiscent of a long-gone era. The historical touches are complemented by the usual mod cons, plus you can take a shower in your private garden.

The standard Rajah Brooke suites have charming four-poster beds while the top-of-the-range Louis Leonowens suites each come with their own infinity pool.

Is there much to do? There’s a pool, a spa and an airconditioned gym. The gardens are shaded by enormous lady palm and mimosa trees preserved from the wild tropical jungle that once blanketed the area. The grounds are lush, with stone walkways, flowers and outdoor seating.

What about the food and drink? The Library Bar serves Italian and local coffee, wine and aperitifs; The Parlor serves afternoon tea; the breakfast, lunch and dinner menu at The Dining Room (bottom) is a hodgepodge of Thai, Asian and Western dishes. Naturally, the Thai cuisine is top notch and cooking classes are held in the kitchen.

What’s the bottom line? A two-night stay in a Rajah Brooke suite costs 12,600 baht (HK$3,180) plus 10 per cent service charge and 7 per cent government tax. The price includes breakfast.


137 Pillars House is at 2 Soi 1, Nawatgate Road, Tambon Watgate, Chang Mai, Thailand, tel: 66 053 247788; www.137pillarshouse.com.