Chiang Mai, Thailand is a city well known for culture and creativity. With its rich Lanna heritage and a new generation’s eye-catching talent for mixing traditional styles with modern amenities, there’s no shortage of beautiful hotels in Chiang Mai. Over the past 8+ years I’ve lived here, the number of hotels has seemed to quadruple and new ones are still going up all around, especially in the Old City and around the Nimmanhaemin neighborhood. Since there are always more options, I’ve updated this post, originally published in 2018, with some of my newest recommendations.
For those planning a first-time visit to the Rose of the North, I always recommend staying in the Old City. It’s central, one of the only really walkable areas in town, super close to the airport (like 10 minutes in a taxi or Grab car – Southeast Asia’s version of Uber) and home to several of the sites and activities you’re probably going to be wanting to see and do, like some of the city’s most import temples and the Sunday Night Walking Street. It’s also one of the best places to be during Chiang Mai’s many holidays or festivals as celebrations are always centered around the Old City.
There are a ton of accommodation options in the Old City ranging from $10 a night dorm rooms to surprisingly expensive hotels, basic guesthouses to trendy hostels. You really can find something to fit any budget or preference.
That said, here’s my curated list of the more boutique options that really pay attention to the special details. It’s become a bit of a trend to slap on the word ’boutique’ to any guesthouse, hostel or hotel trying to make it sound cooler but don’t be fooled — a lot of the ’boutique’ places I see around really aren’t that unique or detail oriented. The recommendations below are on the pricier side of things but definitely live up to their boutique status while also being undeniably Thai in their aesthetic.
On your next stay, consider staying at one of these boutique hotels in Chiang Mai’s Old City! Click on the bold hotel names to check out current rates or make a booking. (Most links go to Agoda, which consistently offers the lowest prices around, but it’s always smart to check the property’s own website and see if they’re offering direct booking deals.)
Teak columns, high ceilings, Thai textiles and the north’s signature red paper umbrellas make Phra Singh Village an obviously attractive choice for a boutique hotel in Chiang Mai’s Old City. The recently opened hotel boasts spacious rooms (I know that’s an overused term, but it’s true), a picturesque pool and is just a couple minutes away from one of the city’s most significant temples, Wat Phra Singh, and the Sunday Walking Street. Phra Singh Village also gets bonus points for the extra benefits it offers to all guests, regardless of room type or booking package, including breakfast, free in-room minibar, complimentary daily afternoon tea in the property’s courtyard, daily cultural activities covering things you’ve probably wondered about but would rarely have the chance to witness (like how people can fold lotus blossom petals into such intricate shapes), free bicycles to use around town and 20% off treatments at the connected Makkha Health & Spa.
Right in the center of the Old City, The Inside House boasts an impressive white colonial facade that’s matched by its just-as-impressive interiors – the property has not one but FOURTEEN pools. Seven different categories of pool suites are spread out along the first and fourth floors while the regular bedrooms also come with semi-outdoor bathtubs.
Opened in 2017, Villa Klang Wiang is simply pretty with a mix of central and northern Thai touches. I also love the area of town it’s in, toward the south gate (Chiang Mai Gate) of the Old City, within in a maze of small sois. You’ll certainly feel like you’re not in your home country anymore.
Located in the centre of the Old City on the same road as the Sunday Walking Street, this airy boutique hotel beautifully blends old and new. With a restaurant and spa onsite, you have everything you need to retreat from the world. Since you’re just steps away from the excitement of the city, however, you get the best chance to balance relaxation with exploration.
A member of the Secret Retreats collection, Rachamankha is located a short distance away from Wat Pra Singh, one of Chiang Mai’s most famous temples. It’s no accident that the architectural style of this boutique hotel is designed to take you back to the city’s golden age as Northern Thailand’s trading capital, blending and fusing different styles into one serene experience. Decorated with carefully curated art, artifacts and artisanal furniture, the property is clearly a special one and a great option if you’re looking to splurge on a place for a couple nights.
The green courtyard, shaded by a large tree really sets the tone for this tranquil oasis. One of the original boutique hotels in Chiang Mai’s Old City, Tamarind Village hides behind an unassuming fence of bamboo, but once you step into the grounds and gardens you’ll forget the city just on the other side. While the onsite restaurant serves up delicious Northern Thai food, you’re also just a hop and a skip away from some of the Old City’s best eateries.
Hidden on a little soi in the heart of Chiang Mai is Makka. Designed with Buddhist philosophies in mind, every detail of this beautiful boutique hotel will make you feel relaxed and zen. The architecture and green courtyards bring the outside in and add further to the feeling of relaxation. The entrance and lobby areas are incredible!
With its gorgeous interior decor and expansive art collection, this boutique hotel almost feels like an art gallery. The Makkachiva, sister to Makka, pays attention to the little details that make your experience feel unique, like taking off your shoes before you enter the interior! Just across the street is a traditional Lanna-style temple to add to the ambiance.
When visiting Chiang Mai, staying in the Old City makes it easy to explore and pack as many adventures into your day as you can. Feeling like you can “come home” to a beautiful space really enhances the experience, and staying at one of these boutique hotels in Chiang Mai’s Old City will definitely be worth the little extra splurge.
Note: This post contains Agoda affiliate links. You get the best rate and I get a small commission at no extra charge to you – win win!
Hey! I'm Alana and I've spent nearly the past decade living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, working as a writer and photographer. I started Paper Planes as a place to share local insight, special places, and how to travel well through a range of experiences — from hostels to high-end hotels, street meat to multi-course meals.
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Beautiful places, all of them. And I can personally vouch for how nice the Makka Chiva is. Seems like I got an extra good price on the room through Ahoda, too!
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