HIGH ON HOTELS: THE DYLAN

Amsterdam… what more do we say that we have not said in admiration of this city? Well, continuing with our public display of affection (P.D.A. you see) for this city, next in our High on Hotel series- we getting chatting with the representatives of another extremely credible and worthwhile hotel- The Dylan, so sit back and enjoy!

Q: Why a stay here would prove to be the most memorable one?
A: The Dylan consist of 40 rooms and suites. All the rooms are individually designed in different styles. The Dylan Amsterdam is located in the heart of the city center and in “de negen straatjes” district. In “de negen straatjes” you can discover different galleries, boutiques, bars and eateries. Personal attention and high-quality service isn’t something we have to explain to our staff –at the Dylan it comes naturally.  Our guests are always our priority. The guests can have a perfectly crafted coffee or one of our signature cocktails at Bar Brasserie OCCO, an exquisite dinner at our Michelin Star restaurant Vinkeles or they can relax in our lounge by the fireplace.

All in one, The Dylan offers a refined, modern decor along with unparalleled, personalized service and a five-star product.
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Q: What all facilities would you find in the room?
A: We have the following comfort in the rooms: Air-conditioning, Bose sound system with Bluetooth iPod connection, safe, minibar, telephone, television, work desk (incl. USA adapter), “Frette” bathrobes, linens and slippers, James Heeley bath amenities and a magnifying mirror. Also, there are tea and coffee facilities, free Wi-Fi and 24 hours room service.

Q: Elaborate on the facilities in the hotel for in-house guests?
A: The Dylan Amsterdam has different facilities. Bar brasserie OCCO, Michelin restaurant Vinkeles, fitness room, a cozy lounge, garden, massages, bicycles, concierge service and free Wi-Fi.

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Q: A must try restaurant in the hotel and why?
A: We have two must try restaurants in The Dylan. One of them is Restaurant Vinkeles. The intimate and historic setting offers the perfect mood to enjoy the cooking of Chef Dennis Kuipers and his team. His modern French cuisine with its international twist, often described as “exciting, modest and refined”, has been awarded a Michelin star in 2009.

Bar Brasserie OCCO is a distinct cosmopolitan eatery with menus highlighting handcrafted cocktails and creative cuisine drawn from local Dutch influences and producers. A perfect, more casual alternative to Restaurant Vinkeles.

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Q: Please throw some light on the USP of the hotel?
A: One of the unique selling points of The Dylan Amsterdam is the location. The rooms have a view over the canals or our garden. The Dylan offers refined and modern décor along with personalized service. Another unique selling point is our the Michelin star restaurant and our beautiful secluded garden.
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Q: Could you share a little about the connectivity of the hotel?
A: The Dylan Amsterdam is perfectly reachable with public transportation. The tram station at the Keizersgracht or Elandsgracht is within walking distance (5 minutes).

Q: Further to the earlier question, what is the easiest way to get to the hotel from the airport?
A: The easiest way to get to the hotel from the airport is with a taxi but the hotel is easily reachable by public transportation.

Q: For all the prospective guests and shopping lovers, please tell us about the closest shopping hub to the hotel?
A: The Dylan Amsterdam is located in “de negen straatjes” (The nine streets).  These streets are the connection between the four main canals. Vintages stores, alternative fashion and specialized theme stores can be found there. The nine streets is also an excellent location for a good cup of coffee and to escape from the busier streets in Amsterdam.

Q: Lastly, if one got back at 2 am to the hotel, what is it that one would get to eat?
A: There are many things that you can eat when you get back to the hotel at 2 am. For example, for a big appetite-we offer pizza, roasted steak with fries, different kinds of wraps and more. Next to this, we have different options for a late night snack. Think of veal “bitterballen” or Dutch shrimp croquettes.

Pictures Curtesy: The Dylan Amsterdam

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HIGH ON HOTELS: Swissôtel Amsterdam

It is not an unknown fact that we absolutely love and adore Amsterdam. The place has a fun and cozy vibe which is very inviting and we just cannot wait for our next visit there. Today, in our High on Hotels series, we are throwing light on a boutique hotel situated in our favourite-Amsterdam which looks extremely impressive and comfortable. So, sit back and enjoy this beauty of a property as we get chatting with its representative…

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Q: Why a stay here would prove to be the most memorable one?
A: Swissôtel Amsterdam offers outstanding, personalized service- making guests feel comfortable and at home. The staff goes above and beyond for their guests and has a lot of knowledge regarding the city and its activities and is always there to help and inform guests. Furthermore, the location of Swissôtel Amsterdam gives guests direct access to shopping, public transport and the main tourist attractions. A few minutes away you will also find the famous Body Worlds, Madame Tussauds and Royal Palace.

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Q: What all facilities would you find in the room?
A:
Every room has a Nespresso machine and tea- free of charge and a mini bar at an additional charge. Furthermore, guests can enjoy complimentary wireless access and every room has a pillow menu, where people can find different pillow types that can be requested at reception.

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Q: Elaborate on the facilities in the hotel for in-house guests?
A: All guests have free access to the Swissôtel Amsterdam Fitness featuring state-of-the-art TechnoGym equipment and to the business centre which offers complimentary internet access and light snacks.

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Q: A must try restaurant in the hotel and why?
A: Swissôtel Amsterdam does not have its own, in-house restaurant. However, right next to Swissôtel Amsterdam- you can find the restaurant ROYAL98, which offers seats with a view on the famous Dam Square. ROYAL98 opened up last year and offers delicious, fresh wood oven pizzas and pastas as well as more international dishes such as sandwiches, cakes, burgers and Dutch Bitterballen. And don’t forget to try the typical Dutch dessert-Trio of Stroopwafel. Hotel guests can also enjoy the buffet breakfast or A la carte breakfast for an additional charge.

Q: Please throw some light on the USP of the hotel?
A: The prime location on the Dam Square and personalized service would be our USP.

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Q: Could you share a little about the connectivity of the hotel?
A: There is a tram stop right in front of the hotel, which is connected to the most important stops in the city. Furthermore, the metro and train stations are situated on a 7 minutes’ walk, connecting to the other areas of Amsterdam and Schiphol Airport.

Q: Further to the earlier question, what is the easiest way to get to the hotel from the airport?
A: By train, you arrive at Amsterdam Central Station within 30 minutes, then it is a 7 minutes’ walk to the hotel. Swissôtel Amsterdam can also arrange a taxi to pick guests up from the airport at an additional charge.

Q: For all the prospective guests and shopping lovers, please tell us about the closest shopping hub to the hotel?
A: Next to the hotel- the famous warehouse ‘De Bijenkorf’ can be found, other warehouses ‘Magna Plaza’ and ‘Hudson’s Bay’ are on a 5 minutes’ walk and the main shopping street is right behind the hotel with stores of all the popular brands such as Pull&Bear and Forever21.

Q: Lastly, if one got back at 2 am to the hotel, what is it that one would get to eat?
A: Swissôtel Amsterdam offers 24/7 room service, with offerings such as pizza, pasta, sandwiches and ice cream.

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Pictures Courtesy: Swissôtel Amsterdam

 

Desi Desserts with a Difference

 

“Dessert is like a feel-good song and the best ones make you dance.” – chef Edward Lee

Well, the dessert brand I am going to talk about in the blog post today, for sure made me do a happy dance each time I binged on their offerings. If you have been a fan (or even not) of Indian desserts, you would be amazed by the unique and interesting range of items which they let you relish. I quite second the fact which the brand urges that Khoya is the essence of true Indian sweets wherein they use fresh and organic ingredients.
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Before we share more on our first-hand experience trying the desserts by Khoya Mithai, we thought that we would let you learn more from the one who has worked rather hard on this brand.

In Conversation with Siddharth Mathur, Director, Head – Food & Beverage, Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality Pvt Ltd…

Q: In times when the non-Indian desserts are such a rage and every now and then we get spoilt with even more choices- how did such a concept occur or did you feel that this was the need of the hour?
A: Need of the hour for sure! Indian desserts have such great heritage and a special place in our culture, we wanted to bring that back. I also enjoy non-Indian desserts, but felt that mithai was underrepresented at the higher end of the spectrum, hence Khoya was born.Khoya_27895

Q: Sweets in general are facing this constant challenge of pleasing the increasing number of diet conscious consumers, what is the most appropriate offering from your brand for them?
A: We have a delicious Date & Nut Barfi as well as the Fig Barfi both of which have no added sugar and contain ingredients that are good for you!

Q: Tell us about that one creation of yours which is a must try or the one that has been the hot-seller? Also, talk us through if any new additions are in the pipeline?
A: The Walnut Peda is not only my favourite, but has had resounding appreciation. It is made of roasted khoya filled with a slightly crunchy walnut praline filling. We have just launched 12 flavours but one of the exciting works in progress is our Orange Barfi. It is smooth, well-balanced and has a wonderful marmalade finish.
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Q: Following are few occasions, we want you to recommend one offering of yours against each which would make for the most appropriate giveaway for that occasion…
A: Okay then for,

  • Baby Shower – Walnut Peda
  • Mehendi – Pink Motichoor Ladoo
  • House Warming – Besan Ladoo
  • Christmas – Date & Nut Barfi

And of course, it’s even better is to order a mixed variety box, so that there is something for everyone!

So, now that you have heard from the man himself, I just want to say that I couldn’t stopping binging on their Walnut Peda, I have always been a Peda fan but this is something else! Also, I feel with Khoya, you get the opportunity to gift your favourite Indian desserts but in such a classy fashion. And what’s even better is the twist with which it comes, I mean I had never heard of Walnut Peda or Brown Sugar Besan Ladoo for that matter!

And lastly, even mom is a big fan of theirs now, I asked her quickly and honestly tell me, “Would you consider them for my wedding gifts?” And she replied, “Of course, YES!”
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This is one brand which you must try if you are a true desi-dessert lover!

Much Love,
Sonali

Pictures Courtesy: Khoya Mithai

HIGH ON HOTELS:KC Beach Club & Pool Villas

Okay then, having issues beating the Monday morning blues?  Breathe a sigh of relief, as we are all set to virtually take you to a true paradise called the KC Beach Club & Pool Villas at one of the most gorgeous places on Earth- Koh Samui… Hence, sit back and enjoy this latest post in our series on- High on Hotels where we get talking with their representative!

Q: Why a stay here would prove to be the most memorable one?
A: Our chic retreat is located in the heart of Chaweng Beach which is known to be the best party place on Koh Samui. This amazing beach has soft, white sand, a shallow turquoise sea and a big variety of leisure and sports programs.
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Q: What all facilities would you find in the room?
A: This new stylish Beach Club Hotel has a total of 42 units: each room has a king-size bed and sofa, bathroom with Jacuzzi bath and rain shower. The rooms are equipped with in-room technology such as 42” LCD Satellite and Cable TV. Each room also disposes of air condition, in-room safe, minibar, complimentary tea and coffee facilities, bathrobes, hair dryer and complimentary Wi-Fi.
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KC Beach Club located on central Chaweng beach, Koh Samui, Suratthani, Thailand

Q: Elaborate on the facilities in the hotel for in-house guests?
A: In our resort, guests can experience two swimming pools, NEO Restaurant, Pool Bar or massage at beachfront sala. There is free shuttle bus to our sister 5 star resort where guests can utilize local spa and fitness center. Not to forget mentioning about the Saturday Pool Party with professional DJ, hostesses to serve delicious cocktails, plus excellent entertainment from saxophone players, drummers and dancers, also there is an international buffet prepared by our Chef.
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Q: A must try restaurant in the hotel and why?
A: Savour the delectable flavours of fine cuisine at Neo Restaurant, Koh Samui’s most fashionable dining venue located at KC Beach Club & Pool Villas. Feel the sea breeze from the open air dining terrace and gaze in awe at the panoramic views of Chaweng Beach as you browse through the mouthwatering menu of carefully selected dishes. Our experienced chef creates classic flavors with the freshest local ingredients including seafood, herbs, chilies and more and presents them in a way that looks almost too good to eat.
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Q: Please throw some light on the USP of the hotel?
A: If you are looking for a prime location, fashionable beach club, great music club, entertainment, bar and restaurant, modern accommodation, friendly staff and guests from all over the world-KC Beach Club & Pool Villas is the best choice for a perfect vacation!

Q: What is the easiest way to get to the hotel from the airport?
A: The easiest way to get to KC Beach is to book airport transfer provided by hotel or take outside taxi. We are located just 10 minutes away from the Koh Samui airport.

 Q: For all the prospective guests and shopping lovers, please tell us about the closest shopping hub to the hotel?
A: The closest shopping mall “Central Festival Samui” is situated in the heart of Chaweng and it is only 5 minutes from our resort. This mall describes itself as “the most complete and largest lifestyle shopping complex in Samui”.

Q: Lastly, if one got back at 2 am to the hotel, what is it that one would get to eat?
A: Our resort take last order at 22:30, however around us you can find many restaurants and small shops, which you can reach within walking distance.

 

Pictures Courtesy: KC Beach Club & Pool Villas

 

 

WITH LOVE FROM THE MOST ROMANTIC CITY OF INDIA-UDAIPUR

I am a complete dreamer and I don’t shy away from admitting to it either. I love to dream…Dream about countries, cities, beaches, mountains, lakes and so much more. So, while conversing if you feel that I have switched off, maybe I actually have switched off… And have commenced my day-dreaming probably about being on this beach I came across while glancing through my social media account.

For many of these dreams have turned to reality and many are on the wish-list but I am in a happy space as I gradually want to unravel these places spread through the length and breadth of the World Map. Eagerness to visit any destination makes me think more, makes me read more and most importantly it make me work more (harder) so that I can savour the destination in its true spirit.

Today, I am going to throw some light on my very first holiday and trip of 2017… The trip was made to Udaipur- the city of lakes where I had been to-long time ago. But yet again there was something about it which was making me want to visit it sooner than soon and so it happened! Having a loved sister in company just added the right colour and laughter to the trip.

So, without any further delay-sharing as much from our trip…

  1. When visiting this rather romantic city- best is to stay closest to the lakes. I love the water, so there was no way that I was going to be away from the water. We chose- Udai Kothi to be our home for 2 nights and 3 days. Yes, you can see the lake from several parts of the hotel and I must share that our stay was cozy and comfortable. Though we didn’t eat much here, but we would certainly look forward to the breakfast area by the pool to just sit and relax. We clicked umpteen pictures, for the property is gorgeous in white and gets decorated with gorgeous marigold flowers in the common areas. I must add our room was much bigger than expected and was stocked with all the essentials.
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  2. We had amazing gastronomic experiences, like each meal surpassed the one before. For the very reason that we ate to our heart’s content- we are actually happy that we got to walk quite a bit! Hear me out on this one-whenever you decide to visit the City Palace Museum- you must make time to eat at the Palki Khana as this restaurant lets you enjoy the view of the overwhelming structure.
    Also, when both of us were wanting to try out a nice café- we landed in front of the Udai Art Café which was established by Meropi, a vibrant lady hailing from Greece who is a photographer, a coffee connoisseur, a chef and an adventurer. Wow, impressive right? She impressed us equally while she passionately helped us decide our order. We binged big on their pesto pasta and crepe with mushrooms, tomatoes, cheese and bell peppers. We loved our meal which was light on our tummies and pockets!
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  3. For our evening meals we opted for the Aravali Lakeview Restaurant at the Radisson Blu Hotel where we binged on some Laal Maas and the second evening we ate our all-time favourite, Chicken Biryani at this spectacular restaurant right opposite our hotel called Hari Garh. In both cases, we enjoyed views of the lake (both were different lakes), had amazing food and didn’t land up paying all that much. At Radisson Blu, while we enjoyed a live flute performance, the next evening- we played and enjoyed some soothing music from our own phones as we got the best table which only made us pray that the time should freeze as we were having the best time ever!

    Glimpses from  Aravali Lakeview Restaurant at the Radisson Blu Hotel-
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  4. Two things which must feature on your itinerary when in Udaipur- the Lake Pichola Boat Ride and a visit to the City Palace Museum. You are able to soak in much of the city on opting for these two!

    Views from the boat-
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  5. When in Rajasthan, you would certainly have a strong urge to shop everything colourful that meets your eyes. At the Hathipole market– we shopped dupattas like there’s no tomorrow. Also, while passing through several lanes. we picked up jhumkas and lovely neckpieces! Ghewar and Pyaazki kachori are must buys from the Jodhpur Misthan Bhandar for all loved ones back home.
  6.  So, here’s the funniest account-just when someone advised us to head to Sajjangarh for a picturesque panoramic view of the city- we did get there but without looking around much straight away got the tickets for their biological park. Yes, you got that right!!! Little did we know that the very next gate leads to their rather pretty Monsoon Palace… Want to know what next? We were on a golf cart scaling through the park and giggling like little girls spotting the lion, tiger and much more…

  7. For our divine calling, we headed to the Jagdish Temple which is a large Hindu temple in the middle of Udaipur…And we were thoroughly satisfied with our visit.
  8. We thought of ending our trip on a high note and hence, headed to The Oberoi Udai Vilas. Words fall short to describe the beauty that this place is. We had made a reservation for their restaurant-Chandni and post arrival,were soon guided to our table which was facing the lake on one side and gave us a beautiful view of the property on the other. The quality and taste of the food was extremely impressive and we enjoyed every bit of it.
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    Here are few handy tips if you are planning to visit Udaipur anytime soon-

    1. Be ready to scroll around with your luggage in case your hotel is situated in some narrow lane as sometimes the taxi drivers don’t want to risk taking their cars through the congested routes.
    2. Some of the locals take art classes which seem very interesting. Make sure if interested, you keep aside approximately 3 hours for it.
    3. Commuting isn’t an issue, you’ll find autos mostly everywhere…We also made good use of Uber!
    4. Make sure you take reservations in case you are planning to visit one of the plush properties and even check if they allow non-residential guests at all.
    5. We did hear much about the Bagore ki Haveli for its popular evening show with a variety of Indian dance- maybe you could check it out!


    Happy Travelling, always!!!
    -Sonali

CAFE CRUSH: TREW ERA CAFE,LONDON

Hey, so it is truly the season to be jolly! We hope that you are making the most of this time of the year 🙂 With the World being our stage and a global outlook, we thought it is best to further expand our horizons and without any delay- we should virtually visit some of our favourite places and unravel them well.

This desire took us to London to talk about a fun and buzzing café called the Trew Era Café which has also led us to start a brand new series called the Café Crush where we shall together discover some of the worthwhile cafes from around the World. We are excited, already!!!

We got lucky as despite being such a busy time of the year we got some great deets from their star chef- Michele Kirsch who also confesses to be a general chatterbox. Quite a combination, isn’t it? A pair of magical hands and someone to have hearty conversations with, Michele- we are your fans! She has been with the café since its inception in 2015. Now, let us get taking about this café and its offerings…

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Q: It truly does sound like a great and fun place with much meaning and purpose. Now, let us get talking about what we love the most i.e. food. So, for all sandwich-lovers, please be extra kind and help us add a dash of creativity to our breakfast menus…

A: One popular lunch dish is a sandwich of whole meal bread (or white or gluten free) with hummus and char grilled peppers flavoured with sumac-a lovely, slightly smoky but slightly fruity seasoning. Some people add a bit of feta cheese for more protein. Our toasties are very popular too, particularly one made with pesto, tomato and mozzarella cheese. The mozzarella melts really well. We also have a new vegan “cheese” based on coconut. It sounds strange but it actually does taste like cheese.

Q: Here is a quick one, tell us about one popular smoothie of yours, one egg dish and one absolute favourite dessert…

A: One of our most popular smoothies is the creation of one of our team members- Gary. It is called- Caribbean Green. It has pineapple juice, ginger, honey, banana, spinach and coconut milk (or an alternative milk or real milk can be used). The recipe is flexible but it’s very popular.

I can’t really say which egg dish is the most popular but we do get lots of requests for egg (scrambled) and avocado. It’s a very nice and nutrient dense meal. We also do eggs with spinach and tomato which is also really healthy. Most dishes come with a generous side salad on request.

We get lots of sweet dishes which are gluten free and/or dairy free but one staple is Kizzy’s cookies which are vegan and brought in by one of our friend’s Kizzy. They are generously sized and go really well with tea or coffee and are a good snack to take away. The most popular flavour is chocolate chip.

Q: Tell us please on what we should and what we should not expect especially when visiting Trew Era Café for the first time…

A: Expect a very warm welcome and a very home like atmosphere. The coffee is excellent and very good value compared to other places nearby and we have just about every alternative milk type drink under the sun. We often have music playing and have a little dance. Expect lots of people who have just met to be chatting away to each other like old friends, and delicious soups and stews chock-full of colourful vegetables.

Do not expect to see Russell Brand. He has many commitments and is a very busy man.

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With this café giving you a home like feeling, next time around don’t feel lost in London, okay?

Pictures Courtesy: Trew Era Cafe

HIGH ON HOTELS: 137 Pillars House,Chiang Mai

Well, for all those who have been waiting for the latest post in our “High on Hotels” section- the wait is over!!! And we are certain that you would be quite pleased with what is coming your way… Thailand is a favourite with many of us, and this time around we have explored a beauty in Chiang Mai called 137 Pillars House. Towards, the close of this post- we are certain that you would agree that it is a beauty with a difference! Here is all that we found out…

Q: Why a stay here would prove to be the most memorable one?
A: In addition to the naturally gracious Thai hospitality, exquisite cuisine and sensational spa treatments, the boutique experience at 137 Pillars House is unique due to its rich colonial history as it is built around an original teak homestead that dates back to the late 1800’s which has been lovingly restored.  It evokes an experience that goes back to a bygone era which is still evident throughout the house.  As the winner of the coveted Travel + Leisure’s Best Resort in Asia Award which is voted by the readers, this perhaps is a testimony to its memorability; together with its high year round occupancy and a high percentage of return guests.

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Q: What all facilities would you find in the room?
A: 137 Pillars House has 30 suites all of which are white, contrasting with the rich wooden teak homestead and furnished with rich Jim Thompson silks and fabrics in a deep green, a vibrant red or a dark teal.  Suites have high polished wooden floors, black and white mosaic tiles in the bathroom, a deep soak standalone claw footed bathtub, outdoor showers, large verandahs complete with the signature 137 rocking chair and exquisite furnishings throughout, with stunning orchids and bespoke amenities. Modern comforts and a contemporary interpretation of colonial design that marries the old and new.

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Q: Elaborate on the facilities in the hotel for in-house guests?
A: The hotel houses the Jack Bain Bar, Wine Cellar and Dining Room among others.  Recreation facilities include the Spa, Gymnasium and Swimming Pool.  The hotel’s cooking classes are very popular and guests find it hard to stop at just one spa treatment! Although an intimate footprint guests can immerse themselves in the resort with in-suite dining, multiple dining areas and cuisine options, spa, wellness programs and classes.

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Q: A must try restaurant in the hotel and why?
A: The hotel has two restaurants and they both offer different experiences, one with Thai food which is hugely popular worldwide and which most guests want to experience and keep coming back for more (as well as doing the cooking class so they can recreate their favorite dishes when they get home for their family and friends).  Palette – a intimate dining experience for up to 20 people, also exhibits local artworks and offers exquisite western food options and daily specials, using organic ingredients.

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Q: Please throw some light on the USP of the hotel?
A: Rich Colonial History, gracious Thai hospitality, bespoke experiences such as- delicious cuisine, the spa –actually hard to name just one.  Also, a great location in an historic area of Chiang Mai and within literally 5 minutes walking distance of upmarket boutiques, galleries and restaurants along the river. Personalized guest experience with all guests assigned a butler who remains in touch with guests both on property and off property. Thoughtfully designed, spacious suites and balconies offering guests a “private residence feeling” instead of a guest room. It is an Oasis in the city or even, a Sanctuary in the city.

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Q: Could you share a little about the connectivity of the hotel?
A: Guests who stay in a hotel of this caliber prefer to use the hotel transportation, but the hotel is easily accessible by those who want to use the local tuk tuks and other local transport options.

Q: Further to the earlier question, what is the easiest way to get to the hotel from the airport?
A: By hotel limousine which even has free wifi and is a seamless, relaxing and elegant way of getting in and out.

 Q: For all the prospective guests and shopping lovers, please tell us about the closest shopping hub to the hotel?
A: Literally around the corner from the hotel is a renowned artisan store -Villa Cini showcasing the best of Thai silk products, ceramics and weaving (bespoke handbags, lifestyle items) then, vintage and traditional Thai sarongs at  Fai Sor Kam and Sop Moei Arts for handicraft items. The street offers wonderful colonial era architecture.

Q: Lastly, if one got back at 2 am to the hotel, what is it that one would get to eat?
A:
Currently the kitchen closes at 11.30pm and re-opens at 5.30am as there has been no demand in the last 4 years of operation – but this is also under review to consider some menu options to be made available at such hours.

Pictures Courtesy: 137 Pillars House