Above: The balcony overlooking a serene stretch of Chiang Mai’s Ping River on our third-floor ‘Heun Bon Suite’ at Raya Heritage.
Raya Heritage is the latest addition to the five-star hotel in Chiang Mai that is conceptualised, designed and managed by the Premier Group who also owns and manages Rayavadee in Krabi. After almost 6 months of soft-running, the hotel had just made a grand debut in December in a form of the exhibition ‘Tracing the Fading Legacy’ that reflects its core values – caring for the local craftsmanship and trying to perpetuate them by fine-tuning them to fit into the hotel’s refined ambience.
Above: Heun Bon Suite (75sqm) with its high ceiling, white-and-cream mood and a lot of refined craftsmanship of the Thai north.
This is a small and cosy hotel that will make you feel like staying in a close-knitted community. There are just 33 rooms, equally divided into three types: ground floor with a private plunge pool, second and third floors with private balcony. The third floor has a higher view of the Ping River.
The architecture and unique decorative elements of Raya Heritage set this place apart from others in the city. Carefully curated crafty and hand-made items from local communities are used and showcased in many tangible, utilitarian ways, as if to emphasise how these once ubiquitous objects were actually used back in the day. Also, there are a lot of antiques, hard-to-find items, most deeply rooted in the Lanna cultures of the Thai north.
Above: The spacious bathroom that showcases items from the villages, refined and sometimes redesigned to match the mood and tone of the hotel.
Raya Heritage is by a quiet stretch of the Ping River, about 20 minutes car ride out of Chiang Mai city centre. It is located in the area that is called ‘San Phi Seur’ which is largely residential, hence still very quiet. The hotel runs a complimentary shuttle bus to-and-fro their sister hotel Tamarind Village in the Old City quarter of Chiang Mai. The shuttle bus services are every two hours from 9.00 until 19.00 from Raya Heritage and from 9.00 until 22.00 from Tamarind Village. Advance reservation of about an hour is required.
Above: Hand-woven baskets, lamps, trays made from rattan and sedge with their rough edges refined to fit the five-star ambience. Also, the towels – off-white with dark stripes – are hand-woven cotton from the communities.
The Room + Facilities
Our room – Heun Bon Suite (that means upper room) – is located on the top third floor of the building, overlooking the Ping River. With a space of 75 sqm, the room feels extra spacious thanks to its high ceiling and soft hues – mainly whites and browns. Walking into the private balcony you will see the mini-bar hidden behind the shuttered wooden cabinets. The highlight for me is to be able to sit outside, enjoying the fresh cool air, sipping a herbal tea.
You will see from the pictures, the elements of local craftsmanships that adorn the spaces of the room. Baskets of all kinds are fine-tuned, their rough edges buffed off, some with strokes of white paintbrush and perhaps a little of some funky designs. Clean stripes in dark navy create contemporary notes to the handwoven handkerchiefs. Farmer’s hat is trimmed with spiky finishes, while the mountain tribal satchel is special-made to be extra large and in bold stripes. These last two are in-room amenities that guests can use during their stay.
Above: Among the in-room amenities are the farmer’s hat and tribal-style satchel.
I had a wonderful sleep especially on the second night after a long day trekking in the woods. The double bed is soft, perhaps a little too soft for my back though, but plush, silky and satiny and super cosy. Nighttime is very quiet when we were there.
Above: The corner where we sat for tea. Pillowcases from local hand-spun cotton. Wooden chairs symbolise tropical styles that sometimes I wish it can be more plush and soft.
The Bathroom + Closet
Toilet and shower area are separated. The bathtub is near the bathroom vanity that houses a twin set of washbasins. A small hairdryer, yet powerful enough for my mid-length and very thick locks is provided. Also, we had no problems with the hot water and flushing system.
The bathroom and the dressing area are spacious. A lot of room for luggage and a good elongated space for hanging long dresses. The full-length mirror is my favourite. Good lightings that can be controlled individually for both functions and moods with one master switch (that shuts down everything, air-conditioner included) at the front door super convenient for environmentally-conscious people (all of us) to turn everything off on the way out. The deposit safe a bit too small, though. It could not fit my MacBook Pro (A4-sized) laptop. An iron is available upon request.
Above: My favourite corner in the room – the plush balcony equipped with the room’s mini-bar – overlooking the Ping River.
The mini-bar area is outside of the room. On the balcony in the above picture. So, if you want to make a cup of coffee or tea (the provided are all certified organic brands), you will have to venture out a bit. However, this works great for me who, upon waking up at dawn, can make me a good cup of coffee at leisure without waking up my sleeping hubby with my bumping-around noises.
Very coffee-considerate of them is the provision of a pour-over perforated cup for the drip coffee. An all-day private dining menu is also available if you wish to dine in your own room.
Above: Raya Heritage’s most-photographed space is their open-air lofty reception area overlooking the lush garden.
This hotel is not big, but the details of decorations and the wise orientation of the building make the lightings perfect for the photo-ops. Big trees are the centrepieces – flanked by the building’s stark columns that also create patterns of lights. The landscape is manicured in a wild way – a long plot of aromatic lemongrass as tall as one very tall man is interspersed nicely with local floras that perked up after a night of rains.
Also, as aforementioned, this hotel is big on local craftsmanship. I would encourage you to walk around and observe beautiful hand-made, some antique and very meaningful objects that are placed sometimes as a utility in this beautiful space. For example, the big perceivably ‘bamboo lamp’ at the entrance is, in fact, a very hard to find and very old and well-used ‘Sawien‘ or rice silo with, as you can still see, some parts of the cattle dung used to seal the basket still visible. 😀
Below are some extra tidbits of our stays. From top, clockwise: welcome drink of lotus root drink with crunchy lotus root as the edible garnish, fresh herbal teas provided in the room, the fruit basket with delicious local banana (called gluay nam wa), tangerines and green dates called ‘pussa.’
Second row: Yang tree that is its stem when mature can be made into strips and woven into mats, the ‘Sawien‘ rice silo with visible dungs of cows that were used to seal shut the opening of the basket, flora.
Third row: Bedtime desserts during the two nights are served with auspicious tokens made from hand-woven sedges. Creels, baskets and another vintage fishing gear called ‘sae‘ are symbols of good luck because they can hold on to good things in your life. The middle picture is the herbal tea I made for us.
As a sister hotel of Rayavadee, Raya Heritage is on the same range of class in small, luxury and exclusive hotels. A Heun Bon Suite during a low season starts at about Bt10,000 per night or about Bt17,000 per night during the peak season, including breakfast for two. The room is beautiful and the service just impeccable. The far-away location is also a plus for those who like it quiet. The breakfast is something that I have been hearing about a lot way before my chance to stay there. And when I experienced it, I know why.
Read more about Raya Heritage Breakfast + Foods here.
Read more about our day-trip to Doi Inthanon here.