Low key and hidden away
It would be an understatement to describe Chiang Mai’s Rainforest Boutique Hotel as tucked away and low-key, since in the 12 years we’ve been in town we’d never heard of it until some friends recently stayed there. They gave it excellent reports so we checked it out: it’s a lovely spot and we strongly recommend it if you’re seeking a hotel in the midrange and you don’t mind adding a tuk tuk ride to get yourselves into town.
To get here, if you’re going down Charoen Muang Road from the old town, take the first right after the railway station — it’s signposted — and continue down the lane for 100 metres or so, and you’ll find Rainforest. Now to go off on a tangent slightly, we would query the name a bit, since not only is it a long time since this inner suburb of Chiang Mai has seen any kind of forest, but rainforest is not a flora type associated with North Thailand either …
So anyway, this location, a five to 10-minute tuk tuk ride into town, does have the advantage of being an otherwise tourist-free area; if you step out of your hotel you’re unlikely to run straight into a bunch of backpackers or a Saga tour group. They do have an evening free shuttle to the night bazaar, and songthaews and tuk-tuks are stationed outside with instructions not to charge more than 100 baht. You might have more problems convincing a downtown driver to take you back for the same rate, but you can always ask the hotel tuk tuk driver to collect you at a set time.
The hotel itself is quite a large affair, with more than 70 rooms, but it maintains a cosy, small-hotel ambiance. We reckon their out-of-the-way location means they’re not snowed under like popular centre of town spots, and perhaps this is a reason for the relaxed, friendly staff and good value room rates.
The site is well laid out with an inviting pool, sitting area and small garden in the centre next to a spacious reception and room blocks leading off to the rear. A five-storey block has deluxe and superior rooms plus a wooden building across from the pool has more upmarket, all-wood “rainforest deluxe and luxury” options.
Rooms are simple, spotlessly clean and decorated with a discreet Lanna emphasis. Amenities-wise you’ll find all you’d expect from a midrange hotel: air-con, hot shower, minibar, free tea and coffee, free WiFi and a decent buffet breakfast.
Deluxe rooms are similar to superior but slightly larger, and the “rainforest” rooms with plenty of teak and even more space are a step up in quality — and price. Our only criticism of the regular rooms would be the tiled floors, but that really is only nitpicking. All round, Rainforest is an excellent option and very good value for money.
The large airy restaurant overlooking the pool is a good place to sit, the food’s decent and they don’t assassinate you with their prices, so you don’t have to travel into Chiang Mai proper every time you want to eat.
Rates start at 900 baht for a superior room during low season (May to October) and 1,100 baht for high (November to April), through to a rainforest luxury room priced at 2,000/2,200 baht (low/high), including breakfast, tax and service.
By Mark Ord
Last updated on 3rd February, 2016.