Undeniably one of the most luxurious spots in Chiang Mai, the 137 Pillars House boutique hotel is a nostalgic blend of history, Thai architecture and sleek modern design, with wonderful dining, an indulgent spa and inviting swimming pool.
Located on expansive grounds in the Wat Gate district, it offers a tranquil home-from-home among the manicured lawns and towering trees, with day beds discreetly placed for added relaxation. No surprise given that this graceful 1889 property was once owned by Louis Leonowens, son of Anna of ‘Anna and the King’ movie fame.
There are 30 luxurious suites named after the founders of the Borneo Trading Co. including William Bain, Rajah Brooke and Louis Leonowens. The lovingly restored teak homestead, around which the hotel is built, has a rich colonial heritage and originally sat on 137 pillars, from where it gets its name. Dating back to a time when it was the office of the northern headquarters of the British East Borneo Trading Company, that worked in forestry in the surrounding hills.
This celebrated resort is now in its 5th year of operation and has two restaurants featuring Thai and Western Cuisine. The legendary Jack Bain’s Bar, Cigar Divan and Wine Cellar, in addition to the Piano Lounge & Palette Dining Room.
The Story of the House
For the current owners of 137 Pillars House, the story began when they sought to buy a peaceful property away from the Thai Capital. The Northern town of Chiang Mai came to mind for its laid-back pace and while looking, they were shown to a big black house, neglected and set in an overgrown wooded area.
Despite the giant task of bringing it and the surrounding grounds back to their former glory, and then adding the accommodation facilities they dreamed of, they took a leap of faith after researching more into the house’s fascinating story, and decided to do the right thing by it, with the hope of one day sharing it and its history, with the world.
With this passion, the Wongphanlert Family restored and rebuilt the 137 Pillars House, which was opened in 2011. A truly luxurious boutique hotel in the heart of Chiang Mai, it surpasses all expectations with its impressive design and unbeatable facilities. The impressive original teak homestead has been lovingly recreated and the 30 spacious and impeccably decorated suites with their wide decks that overlook the lawns, are situated amongst the hundred-year-old trees.
The Dining Room offers fine Thai and Lanna cuisine prepared with organic ingredients in an alfresco setting, while at the Palette you can savour the epicurean art of gourmet cuisine. You can partake in Afternoon Tea in the gardens or the Parlour of Baan Borneo House.
Commemorated in the property’s signature Jack Bain’s Bar, the bar’s nostalgic and historical atmosphere speaks of an age of cocktails and gentlemen’s clubs. Legend has it that Jack Bain was one of the last inhabitants of the historical teak homestead around which 137 Pillars House was created having followed in his father William’s footsteps and joined the company as Manager, raising his family on the grounds where the hotel now stands.
A colourful Scottish character somewhat reminiscent of Indiana Jones, his legend lives on at 137. Jack’s youngest daughter still lives in the area and has shared anecdotes and memories of her beloved father which are incorporated into the bar’s menu which has been designed in the form of his personal diary.
While there try the Aged Teak Signature Cocktail, an exotic mix made with Monkey Shoulder Blended Single Malt Whiskey, Martini Rosso Red Vermouth and fresh grapefruit juice, presented under an elegant glass dome filled with freshly charred cinnamon sticks that create a wispy fragrant smoke.
The Spa & Wellness facility offers a wide range of treatments and therapies, with Yoga and Tai Chi classes on offer. The shimmering 25×5.5 metre pool is perfect for laps, or you can simply relax in one of the sun loungers next to the living wall. There is an air-conditioned fully equipped gym located in the Pillars House too, should you need to work off your culinary indulgences Reception also offers a concierge service that will help plan any excursions in and about Chiang Mai.
But beyond these facilities, the ultra-luxury and unbeatable class and history, the property prides itself on offering timeless experiences that are enhanced by warm hospitality and personal touches.
It is very much a dream come true destination.
Why 137 Pillars?
The importance and wealth of a property owner in Chiang Mai at the time that it was built, was often recognised by the size of their Lanna style Thai houses, and in particular how many pillars the house had. The more pillars, the more important you were. Visiting journalists, impressed by the history and beauty of the house at the time, worried that this house never had a name, and the then owners decided to count the number of pillars which came to 137. From then onwards it would be referred to as ‘Baan 137 Sao’, which translates to 137 Pillars House.
The Essential Details
For more information contact 137 Pillars House on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website www.137pillarschiangmai.com. There are numerous combo packages and specials on offer, that you won’t want to miss. 137 Pillars House Chiang Mai is the flagship property for 137 Pillars Hotels & Resorts.
*** Read my other posts on Thailand. Photos sourced, the above article written by my for Thailand Authority of Tourism and Lesley Simpson Communications who I visited 137 Pillars with.