Discover the Most Beautiful Hotels in Bhutan
An unspoilt land scattered with sacred valleys, ancient temples and fortress-monasteries, Bhutan is making headlines this spring, thanks to the reopening of its historic Trans Bhutan Trail. These are the sanctuaries and lodges to bed down at.
25 March, 2022
Dotted with sacred valleys, ancient temples and fortress-monasteries, you don't need to visit Bhutan to appreciate how utterly enchanting its landscape is - though we'd highly recommend that you do. In a digital world that enables far-flung places to feel so familiar, it can be challenging to find a destination that doesn't crop up across your social timeline week in, week out. Yet, this eastern Himalayan kingdom, neighbouring China and India, makes for a rare untouched territory.
With the centuries-old Trans Bhutan Trail set to reopen this spring, we couldn't think of a better place in which to go off-grid and retrace the steps of the legendary pilgrims and royals who once travelled along it. But, hold on. Before you lace up your hiking boots, follow us as we take a peek inside the country's most beautiful hotels. After all, you'll need to put your feet up between action-packed days.
Beguiling Bhutan: seven magnificent hotels in the mountain kingdom
Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary
Classifying itself as a hotel that has the body of a monastery and the mind of a monk, Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary offers guests a place to discover the true essence of wellbeing. Dutch hotelier and founder Louk Lennaerts has woven tranquillity into every aspect of this traditional fortress's core. From hot-stone baths to soulful meals, holistic yoga sessions, art classes and guided hikes, guests are guaranteed a serene stay. All 24 bedrooms take a minimalist approach: think neutral furnishings complemented by lots of natural light and 360-degree views of the lush valley surroundings. After a dip in the marble-tiled infinity pool, head to the hotel's restaurant terrace. You won't find a set menu: instead, each day the incredibly talented Bhutanese chefs create four-course lunches and six-course dinners, with dishes packed with produce freshly picked from the on-site greenhouse and garden.
Neyphu Valley, Shaba Paro 12001
This one's for outdoor enthusiasts craving an intimate and homely vibe. Situated in the Phobjikha Valley, low-lying, timber-clad lodge Amankora Gangtey is surrounded by fragrant orchards backed by dense forest. Home to just eight suites, the accommodation's stylish decor fuses Japanese minimalism with traditional Bhutanese features - picture lantern lampshades, stone-coloured chaise longues and wood-burning stoves. We love the roll-top bathtubs, positioned in front of floor-to-ceiling windows, serving such sublime vistas that you'll never look at your own tub the same again. Complete a guided cycle tour, before joining other guests at one of the two enormous dining tables, where family-style feasting awaits.
Bumthang, Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey, Paro 12001
A labour of love for founders Khin Omar Win and Brett Melzer, Gangtey Lodge was originally intended to be a storage site for the couple's hot-air-balloon business. Today, having evolved into a 12-room lodge, the property makes for the perfect rural retreat. With few power lines, the area is a sanctuary for indigenous birds, including endangered black-necked cranes. Inside, meanwhile, the design takes inspiration from traditional Bhutanese farmhouses, with walls crafted from local pine and the stone flooring having come from a nearby quarry. Don't miss the breathtaking 17th-century Gangtey Monastery - just a 10-minute walk from your front door.
Just below the monastery, Phobjikha Valley, Gangtey Gonpa 975
Taj Tashi Bhutan
Located in the kingdom's capital city, Taj Tashi's dramatic facade serves as a landmark for visitors to Thimphu: we're talking saffron-hued walls, hand-painted dragons and Buddhism's eight sacred symbols. Inside, 66 stylish rooms flaunt high, beamed ceilings, chocolate-coloured wooden flooring and walls painted with religious murals. Wake to the soothing sound of the in-house monk chanting prayers in the outdoor courtyard - a space that fills with dancers and entertainers come nightfall. Insider tip: don't visit without trying the restaurant's signature dish, ema datshi, consisting of chillies, local cheeses, onions and garlic.
Samten Lam, Chubachu, Thimphu 11001
Dhensa Boutique Resort
Spa? Check. A delicious culinary offering? Check. Elegant rooms? Check. We're sold. Flanked by emerald-green pine forests, boutique stay Dhensa overlooks paddy fields that stair-step down to the valley floor. Its understated design is characterised by whitewashed buildings and exposed stone walls, with a paved courtyard providing the perfect spot in which to settle down with a book. There are 34 spacious suites, all of which have been created with the modern traveller in mind, but it's the in-house activities that really get our vote. More than just a place to come and rest your head, the hotel invites visitors to try their hand at everything from threshing rice to river rafting and prayer flag-hoisting.
Wolakha Punakha 117, Punakha 13001
Zhiwa Ling Heritage
Zhiwa Ling, meaning "Land of Peace", sits pretty amid 10 acres of verdant grounds. Every window of the hotel was consciously designed to overlook the iconic Tiger's Nest Temple, which is said to bring good fortune to those who spend the night facing in its direction. In the main building, the pièce de résistance is a magnificent Buddhist shrine constructed from 450-year-old wood. Visit the Mad Monk Bar for an aperitif, then dine in one of two sumptuous restaurants. There's also a fire pit, which is the perfect place to chat with other guests. Days are best spent - in between sightseeing - exploring the hotel's extensive programme of meditation sessions and yoga therapy.
Satsam Chorten, Paro 12001
COMO Uma Paro
A delicate balance of sustainability married with contemporary design awaits at COMO Uma Paro. Decked out with hand-crafted furnishings from Nepal and India, alongside hand-stitched bed linens and rugs, the hotel is both comfortable and chic. Yoga fans will appreciate the evening classes held in the light and airy studio, with floor-to-ceiling windows swung open to offer forest views. The award-winning in-house Bukhari restaurant offers a fantastic selection of national dishes, its seasonal menu including platters of hand-moulded farm cheeses, smoked tofu and tagliatelle of prawns. We recommend packing something with an elasticated waistband.
Paro Valley, Paro 12001