Hotel Check: Le Méridien Paro Riverfront, Bhutan
PROPERTY HIGHLIGHTS Set in front of the rushing river amid hillside scenery, this modern hotel provides all the comforts of home in a spectacular setting just five minutes from the international airport. Service and artsy décor only enhance the experience.
PRICE Internet rates for a traditional room on the random dates we checked start at $314
CONTACT Le Méridien Paro Riverfront, PO Box 1265, Shaba, Paro, Bhutan, Phone +975-827-0300, https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/pbhpr-le-meridien-paro-riverfront/
WHERE IS IT All rooms face the beautiful river and manicured gardens. Rolling hills form the backdrop of the bucolic scenery, and just a short distance away through the valley is Paro International Airport. This hotel is especially convenient for those with early flights since it is only a five-minute drive to the airport. Those arriving from long flights may also appreciate spending the night here before venturing further into the country. Another highlight is that the drive to the famous Tiger’s Nest monastery is about 30 minutes (important since many people opt to do the two hour hike before sunrise).
WHAT’S IT LIKE? The bright lobby has numerous conversation seating areas where my check-in was conducted, cool towel and drink in hand. Le Méridien is known for its focus on art and design, and this hotel, which opened in 2015, is a perfect example. Buddhist artwork from the region is on display throughout, and the hotel even has its own soundtrack that plays in the lounge and elevators. All travelers must book through local travel agents to secure hotel reservations, tours, and the necessary entrance visa. My trip was organized through TravelLocal.com, which connected me with their on-the-ground partner Heavenly Bhutan. Rather than scour the Internet for companies that I did not know, I chose to work with TravelLocal because they have vetted partners in countries across the globe that know the destination inside and out and tailor a visit to your personal tastes.
ROOM FACILITIES Hardwood floors topped with blue and white area rooms form the backdrop of all rooms here. All eyes are immediately drawn to the windows facing the river and lush hillside. No room has a bad view here. Air conditioning, ceiling fans, and windows that open provide options for ensuite refreshment, but so do plentiful bottled water and coffeemakers.
Beds have cushioned mattresses with gigantic pillows that cover the oversized king or twin beds from side to side. Flat-screen TVs facing the bed and wide desks with international power outlets are welcome perks for those that may have been trekking or exploring the majestic countryside of Bhutan. Classic rooms are the entry-level category with Deluxe rooms being larger although coming with similar amenities. Plush seating areas by the window provide a cozy place to relax or curl up with your guide book. Grand Deluxe rooms have larger sitting areas with chaises longues while Corner suites are semi-circular in shape and have larger seating areas with swiveling TVs that can turn toward the bed. Bathrooms have glass walls or shuttered partitions that allow natural light to enter into the marble-lined spaces with large vanities stocked with Malin+Goetz toiletries. Deep soaking tubs and rainfall showers come standard. There is no club level here, but Marriott’s top elites are treated to a happy hour in the lobby lounge with free drinks and snacks.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS Latest Recipe is the circular dining room serving three meals a day with panoramic views of the river and hillside.
Its exhibition kitchens keep busy cooking up everything from Indian and Chinese to Bhutanese and continental cuisine. Bamboo Chic serves a dinner menu that takes a more pan-Asian take on recipes with Chinese, Japanese, and Thai influences among others. The lobby has a coffee shop serving pastries, coffee, cocktails, and other snacks, and room service runs nonstop to the relief of jetlagged travelers.
LEISURE FACILITIES The spa comes with several treatment rooms with programs focusing on traditional Himalayan healing methods. Guests can also soak in sauna or steam rooms without a charge or enjoy the 24-hour fitness center with floor-to-ceiling views of the river. An indoor swimming pool and whirlpool with hillside vistas are another option for those that want to relax.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES Free wireless Internet is available throughout the hotel, and a business center provides free Internet access and printing. Small groups of up to 220 can convene in the multi-functional meeting space.
VERDICT This hotel is both modern and comfortable plus comes with the bonus of loyalty points. Heavenly Bhutanand TravelLocaloften recommend this property for those wanting to be close to the airport or close enough to climb Tiger’s Nest.
By Ramsey Qubein
Ramsey is a regular contributor to Business Traveler across all print, digital, web and social channels. He travels more than 400,000 miles a year criss-crossing the globe to report on hotels, airlines, loyalty programs, and all things travel.
You can find more from Ramsey at http://www.ramseyq.com/, on Twitter – @dailytraveltips and Instagram – @dailytraveltips