From one that travels to Chiang Mai several times a year on business at the elephant camps, there are MANY good places to stay in Chiang Mai but "where" is of course dependent on your budget and "needs".
I can tell you one thing, just returned from CM , DON'T stay at the DeNaga Hotel. What used to be a good 3 star hotel has turned into a nightmare.
Here is the story:
Stayed at De Naga last year but apparently this year went through management change to "The Unique Collection" group. Hotel has gone from nice little place to awful.
We booked a premier deluxe room and got a good rate from a manager. When we arrived, first room they gave us, bathroom smelled like a sewer. We also got into a bit of a tiff with front desk staff who, when asked about their web stated "FREE Mini Bar" policy (quite frankly we were surprised - last year they also had free mini-bar but only water and soda - this year they had sparkling water, Evian and two types of beer - not that we drink beer but I wanted an Evian).
We were told only house water was free - everything else had to be paid for. Well that set a very negative tone - even as they checked with night manger on duty (by phone) who confirmed the confusing policy. This also started a tiff between my Thai staff who was with me and a housekeeping supervisor that had gotten off work but was still hanging out at the front. She complained to my staff that "the foreigner" (me) was just causing trouble (What trouble - we asked about a policy AND reported a sewer smell in our room).
Only thing about our stay (besides their food which is very good) that made me happy was next day we were assured by the hotel general manager that woman was given a disciplinary warning.
We were moved to another room however in that room, the wooden door between the bathroom and the bedroom was warped and would not close. We asked them to fix it as I did not appreciate my toilet activities being observed by my staff or anyone else that may have been in the room.
They could not fix the door so they offered to show me other similar rooms to change to. I reluctantly agreed only to have two other rooms I was shown still have feces in the toilet. Yes, you read correctly. How disgusting!
At that point I was exasperated. If it were not late night we would have walked out.
Minor problem but problem none-the-less in this non-secure world: security at the hotel is very lax. Doors lock but safety chain can easily be broken as well as locks picked.
Next day, after talking with Mr. Limprasutr, the hotel general manager about all the problems we decided to book a car (for 200 Baht) from their tour desk to take us to the airport. The car arrives and after we load our bags in the car, my staff opens the drivers passenger side of the car only to find a woman sitting there.
Ugh, safety rule number one, never get in a car where there is more than just the driver - man or woman. Point number 2, when I hire a car to take me from point A to point B - it is "my" hire car" - no one else should be in it except for those I invite.
We decided to take a tuk-tuk instead (80 Baht to airport). Hotel GM just looked away and said nothing.
Folks, teach these people a lesson, DON"T STAY at De Naga!. I had to pay to stay there and teach them how to have their staff treat guests as VALUED guests and how management should handle customer problems.
Maybe the new management group will get the message and bring back the old De Naga that I remember.
And one last thing, if you go to a buffet where you pay one price and everything is "free" on the buffet line - that means EVERYTHING is free not some dishes are free and you have to pay for others. De Naga staff, learn what FREE MINI BAR means.
Unique Collection Group, stop being so lazy (or is it cheap) and change what it says on the web site if you don't mean it OR clarify with a table top sign on top of each fridge in the rooms your "Free Mini Bar" policy.
See, they really should pay me for training.
Unique Quality: The food is good.
I cant say enough about this place. Traveled with two teens and they loved it too. Super value. Very funky, clean and the staff welcomed us by name, and with cool, sweet tea the first time we walked in the front door. Their hospitality continued throughout our stay. (Mar 2008). We couldn't believe the value for what we got. The pictures dont do this place justice. Central location.. short walk to markets etc. Spacious rooms, the entire place was so clean, beautiful decor, courtyards, small pool, internet was on and off (but who cares?) super yummy breakfasts included.
only downside, the website is awfully slow to load... was back when we booked too.. just got there and let it load for however long it takes, or find their contact info on another site if you can't wait... I think we got the best value booking directly? Can't recall sorry.
Unique Quality: value
Directions: close to everything markets, massages, within gates of the 'old area'... awesome location!
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Address: 21 Soi 2, Ratchamanka, Moon Muang Road, T. Pra Sing, A. Muang, Chiang Mai, 50200, Thailand