Boutique Hotels – For Every Budget – in Chiang Mai

by Alana Morgan
( April 18th, 2014 )

Boutique Hotels in Chiang Mai


One of the best things about accommodation in Thailand is that there are so many options. From $3 dorm beds to luxury 5-star suites, there’s definitely something for everyone…and a surprising amount of ‘nice’ places that are still affordable even on a backpacker budget. Yes, you can always pinch pennies here and make your dollar go a long way (I mean, there’s $1 cooked to order meals everywhere!)...but that’s also one of the reasons you should take advantage and splurge on a nice place every once and a while – you’re money goes further so you can afford more than you would be able to at home.

I’ve written before about some of the coolest hostels in Bangkok and wanted to share some of my favorite boutique hotels in Chiang Mai that fit any budget.

Villa Duang Champa


This light and airy hotel is housed in a colonial Thai-style building in the center of Chiang Mai’s Old Town on the popular Sunday Walking Street. Rooms are clean, spacious and simple yet still have special decorative touches and a slight hipster-feel to them. There’s also a welcoming outdoor dining and lounging area and yoga classes onsite.

  • Cost: Rooms run around 1,000 – 2,500 baht

  • Location: 82 Ratchadamoen Road

Tha Pae Boutique House


Off of Tha Pae Road close to the city’s main tourist center, Tha Pae Boutique House is part guesthouse, part boutique hotel with individually decorated rooms featuring a distinct Lanna (northern Thai) feel.

  • Cost: Rooms start at around 1,200 baht

  • Location: 4 Tha Pae Road Soi 5

At Nimman Hotel


Situated on a little soi (street) in the trendy Nimmanhaemin neighborhood near Chiang Mai University, At Nimman Hotel is a little more pricey than Villa Dunag Champa, but puts you right in the middle of all the night time hotspots. Nimmanhaemin is known for its numerous bars, coffee shops and restaurants, and while still visited by tourists, is a popular place to see and be seen by Thais. The hotel has an exotic feel with decor inspiration taken from the Himalayas.

  • Cost: During the high reasons room run from about 3,500 – 7,000 baht

  • Location: 37 Nimmanhaemin Soi 9

Sala Lanna


On the higher end of things is the lovely Sala Lanna located along the river on the east side of town. Part of a small hotel chain with properties across the country, Sala Lanna is a relaxing escape from all the motorbikes and tuk tuks rushing by. The hotel’s contemporary, minimalist design (pictured above) combines modern design with traditional Lanna touches and plenty of light. There are also two restaurants onsite serving some of the best Thai and Italian food in Chiang Mai – the khao soi is incredible!

  • Cost: Rooms go between 3,000 and 23,000 baht

  • Location: 49 Charoenrat Road

Sala Lanna, Chiang Mai


Have you stayed in any boutique hotels in Chiang Mai? What did you think?

 

Note: I was a special guest of Sala Lanna but all opinions and recommendations are my own and you can read my full review of the property here.

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When in Rome…Go on These 5 Tours

by Alana Morgan
( April 16th, 2014 )

Tours in Rome


I’m normally not a big tour person. I’ve been on some good ones, but I’ve also been on a lot of so-so ones and in the end I usually lean toward doing an activity on my own rather than paying for something that may end up being disappointing. That said, certain tours and programs can be fantastic showing you a side of the place you’re visiting that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

For some reason, while I was in Rome I lucked out with not one, but three amazing tours in Rome that I’ve since been recommending to friends and readers heading to the Eternal City. Though each tour cost around €60 on up, and required a bit of budget scheduling, they were definitely worth it and helped make my few days in Rome some of the best during my month in Italy.

Scooteroma


Ever dream of zipping through the cobbled streets of Rome on the back of a classic Vespa just like they do in the movies? Well here’s your chance – Scooteroma’s scooter tours through the city and beyond help you get a feel for the city from a local’s point of view. My personalized tour was one of the best I’ve ever taken and the perfect combination of history, tourist hot spots, local hidden gems and simply a good ride. Contact them for more information here.

Eating Italy Food Tours


Like Italian food? Then you need to check out the different walking food tours from Eating Italy. Period. Lots of food, lots of history and lots of local treats.

Walks of Italy


Walks of Italy offers tours and classes throughout the country ranging from general city walking tours to specialized day trips, classes and behind the scenes or after hours access to some of the country’s most popular spots. The pasta-making class with a local chef in Rome was all you’d expect from a cooking class and more, including a gorgeous view from the rooftop studio, delicious snacks to taste throughout the evening and plenty of prosecco. The evening lasted about five hours, but flew by so quickly I felt like I had just arrived when I was actually leaving at 11:00 p.m.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to do these last two tours on the list but would definitely check them out my next time in Rome…

Rome Free Walking Tour


There’s no better way to get to know a city than to walk it and with the Rome Free Walking Tour you can simply show up at the meeting place and join the group to explore Rome – for FREE. The tours, offered twice daily in both English and Spanish, cover a couple different areas throughout town and are run by a group of licensed tours guides who work off of tips.

City Sightseeing Rome Bus Tours


For not really liking big group tours, I’ve always appreciated doing these hop-on, hop-off bus tours in different cities around Europe. They tend to be a little pricey (though the Rome tour starts at 20 for adults), and often have a cheesy guide, but they’re a good way to cover a large area and see how everything connects together. For these I like doing them the first day or two in a new place to help orient myself and get a better idea of where I want to go and spend more time later.

Note: I was a guest of Scooteroma, Eating Italy and Walks of Italy but all opinions and recommendations are my own. 

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Two European Hostel Chains to Check Out

by Alana Morgan
( April 9th, 2014 )

I just got back from a month in Italy and after living and traveling through SE Asia for so long I kind of forgot what it was like to actually stay in a hostel since I usually stay in guesthouses. Because accommodation is so relatively cheap there aren’t many hostels since the hostel crowd can actually afford to stay in their own private room wherever they go. In fact, the last time I stayed in hostels was several years ago traveling through Europe. During that time I stayed in a couple beautiful places…and a couple dumps.

This time I lucked out with picking hostels that were reasonable price-wise but still paid attention to the little details that make a stay more comfortable and welcoming. Better yet, they’re both part of two different hostel chains with properties across Europe. When I make it back to the area I’ll be sure to check out their locations first.

PLUS Hostels


PLUS Florence


PLUS Hostels has locations in Berlin, Prague and Florence as well as some camping sites around Italy. I stayed a few nights at the Florence property after first arriving in Italy and was particularly surprised at what a great value it offered especially compared to other accommodations rates and throughout Italy. Traveling alone, I really had a rough time trying to find accommodation I could afford or that was worth paying for. Starting out at PLUS Hostel I thought I would be able to find similar options throughout the country but didn’t. The hostel not only had a range of private and dorm rooms, but a dining and bar area, patio, pool, sauna, steam room….certainly more facilities than you would expect in your average hostel.

The Florence location was also in a great spot, within walking distance (about 15 minutes) from the train station, and was (understandably) popular with groups and even families.

Generator


Generator Venice


Generator has its hipster-y hostels dotted throughout Europe in Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Dublin, Hamburg, London and Venice. I stayed at the Venice location and it was probably the nicest hostel I’ve ever stayed in – at least in the top 3. Beds were clean and comfy (more so than my stay at a ‘real’ hotel a few nights later) and the fresh, funky decor continued throughout the property – from the bar to the bedroom. While the property didn’t have all the amenities Plus Florence did, it certainly made up for it in atmosphere.

Venice was definitely more expensive than other places throughout the country, and rooms at the hostel didn’t come cheap – I paid around $60 ($60!!) for a 10-bed female dorm – but it was still some of the cheapest, and most stylish, accommodation available. However, keep in mind that to get to Generator Venice from the train station you have to take the vaporetto (water taxi) as the hostel located of the main section of land. Buy a pass at the beginning of your stay to save money and hassle.

What hostels have you stayed in Europe that you would recommend? Any other chains to check out?

Note: I was a guest of PLUS Florence but all opinions and recommendations are my own. 

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