Dusit Princess Chiang Mai – A Review By Punam Mohandas
The Dusit Princess Chiang Mai has a lot of things going for it, but the most important of course is: location, location, location! The hotel is slap-bang in the midst of Chiang Mai’s bustling Night Market, a zone where all tourists and visitors to the city end up at eventually and therefore, actually staying here can save one quite a walk. In fact, even its sister property, the dusitD2, is located a few metres down the road, in a side soi (street.)
The Dusit Princess Chiang Mai is a 35-year old hotel, but one would never know it to look at it! Extensive renovations carried out three years ago have ensured a completely new look and feel to the hotel that earlier went in for dark colours more in keeping with Chiang Mai’s Lanna hill style. The newly furbished property is done up in whites and light hues, imparting a sense of freshness as well as light and the illusion of more space than there actually may be.
The lobby is a longish room; a very restful zone with the seating area off to one side done up in soft grey wicker chairs complemented by cushions in purple, pistachio green and maroon. The focal point of attention are the hanging paper lanterns, in simulation of the fire lanterns that Chiang Mai is so famed for. The hotel also offers some outdoor seating on small patios both sides of the entrance, so one can watch street life go by while sipping on a coffee or cocktail.
The Dusit Princess Chiang Mai has 198 keys spread over nine floors. Very wide corridors lead to the rooms, which are categorized as: Superior (26sqm); Deluxe (32sqm); Executive Plus (32sqm); Junior Suite (only twin or triple beds); One Bedroom Suite and Two Bedroom Suite. Interesting artefacts are placed in strategic alcoves near the lifts and along the corridors.
Orange is the colour theme that runs right through all the rooms in terms of cushion covers; apparently, the hotel earlier had dark green interiors, which was felt was too dark to be contemporary and hence, the walls now are a pale white, offset by a splash of orange furnishings. The Superior room, even though small, is surprisingly cosy. The bed has a small two-seater sofa by it, while a cotton print in subtle pastels mounted on a wooden frame serves as the only room decoration. An extended low shelf opposite the bed serves as part luggage rack and part writing desk, with a stool seat. Some rooms in this category have bathtubs while the rest have showers only; it must be said that the bathrooms are rather small and narrow.
The only difference between the Superior and Deluxe rooms is the size and the fact that the latter has wide and comfortable looking twin beds.
The Executive Plus is quite large too, with similar interior décor as the other rooms, although, much the same as other room categories, the bathroom here too is slightly cramped.
The One Bedroom Suite is rather spacious. The living room has a four seater dining table, large screen television and a work desk over to a corner by the window. The furnishings here are in plum purple and green, complementing a fawn coloured sofa. The bedroom is quite novel – there is Thai style seating in reddish orange and fawn on a raised dais facing another large screen television. The suite has a separate dressing room and wardrobe area. The bathroom is rather small, albeit with a bathtub.
Room amenities include a large screen television, tea/coffee maker, electronic safe and bathrobes, while the suites also provide a magnifying mirror in the bathroom. The Dusit Princess offers four bottles of complimentary drinking water daily to its guests – in glass bottles, a practice the hotel group adopted several years ago. Most charmingly, housekeeping leaves a little memento such as locally made bookmarks or keychains during turn-down service each night.
F&B options are limited, as most people prefer to dine outside, especially since the Night Market offers plenty of dining choices. Jasmine is the main, all-day dining 140-covers restaurant, done up in mustard and light orange. It’s usually very quiet except at breakfast time. There are also three private dining rooms (PDR) that can seat 10pax each. Apart from this, Gourmet is the delicatessen at lobby level, open until midnight.
Recreation facilities are restricted to a nice, rather deep outdoor pool, overlooking which is a small gym with basic equipment. There is no spa here, however, guests are able to use the Devarana Spa at the sister hotel, the dusitD2; the Devarana is the in-house Dusit brand and, in my opinion, has excellent facilities with superbly trained therapists.
Convention facilities include the Event I hall that can take 20pax boardroom style, while Event II can accommodate 10pax boardroom style. The foyer is decently large and can be used as a pre-function or for a break-out session. Both rooms are adjacent to Jasmine restaurant. Vimarnman is kept locked for security reasons when not in use; a rooftop venue, it has a fairly spacious hall that can take a 100pax cocktail style, while another 100pax can be accommodated outdoors on the roof patio.
F&B service is efficient and courteous, while the ladies at the Front Desk are exceedingly affable and helpful. A special shout out to the Housekeeping team who keep guest requirements in mind and do a really great job.
As mentioned earlier, the Dusit Princess is right in the midst of the action of the Night Market. Things to buy in Chiang Mai are the Lanna embroidered cushion covers or tops for ladies, as well as souvenir kitsch like the elephant keychains or door hangings. In terms of mall shopping, there is a Central and a Robinson in town. The famed Tha Pae Gate – which pretty much symbolizes the ‘centre’ of the city – is a leisurely 20-minute walk away; songthaews (the local, open van transport) run by frequently, at 30 baht per person. Tha Pae has a huge courtyard, where often times street musicians gather of an evening for an impromptu concert, along with hawkers squatting on the ground selling the ubiquitous keychains, scarves etc. Those who are worried about food can relax; there are plenty of restaurants serving the usual western dishes such as pasta, pizza and burgers, while the city also has MacDonald’s, Burger King and Starbucks outlets (sadly!)
The Doi Suthep is worth a visit – a temple perched on quite a high mountain top. There are plenty of elephant camps you can visit, although all do not offer rides in keeping with animal welfare practices; for the same reason, I am not sure if Tiger Kingdom is in operation anymore. From Chiang Mai, you can also do day excursions to Lampang, an hour away and known for its local pottery, or Chiang Rai, two hours away and famous for its exquisite White Temple as well as the dark and majestically carved Black Temple. Chiang Rai is on the border with Myanmar, so you can buy cheap jade as well as silver trinkets here.
Chiang Mai is a 75-minute flight from Bangkok, with several airlines such as THAI, Bangkok Airways, NokAir etc, flying to the ‘Rose of the North.’ The airport is among the largest in Thailand and several carriers fly in directly from various international cities, bypassing Bangkok. A return trip Bangkok-Chiang Mai on Bangkok Airways costs THB 2,900 as an example; of course, the earlier you buy your ticket, the better the price. By train or bus from Bangkok, it would be an overnight journey; by train from Hua Lampong station, it is approximately 800 baht one way in a second AC sleeper.
DUSIT PRINCESS CHIANG MAI
TEL: +66 53 253900
FAX: +66 53 281044
Punam Mohandas asserts her right to be identified as the author of this work. Any views or opinions expressed in this review is that of the author.