Le Meridien Chiang Mai: A Blend of Modern Art and Ancient Culture
Le Meridien towers high over the heart of Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand’s largest and perhaps most culturally significant city. As part of French-born Le Meridien Hotels and Resorts, the hotel offers a blend of the brand’s European heritage and the local region’s Lanna Era style. On a recent trip to Thailand, Jetset Extra sat down with General Manager Yves Mudry to learn more about Le Meridien Chiang Mai, the city’s newest five-star hotel.
Le Meridien Chiang Mai is perhaps best described as both hotel and art gallery. The hotel, like all hotels in the Le Meridien brand, showcases the work of LM100. LM100 is a group of artists and cultural visionaries from around the world, each commissioned by the Le Meridien brand to help create a unique hotel experience for guests. The group is made up of innovators from all walks of life, from photographers and designers to painters, architects, musicians, and chefs.
The work of LM100 is featured in almost every aspect of Le Meridien Chiang Mai. The hotel entrance, formally referred to as the Transitional Portal, showcases the art of New York artist Hisham Bharoocha on its large glass panes. The room keycards are small pieces of artwork in and of themselves, featuring the talent of Sam Samore, Hisham Bharoocha, and Michael Lin. The hotel even has a signature fragrance called LM01, created by Fabrice Penot and Eddie Roschi, founders of the perfume company Le Labo.
Le Meridien also encourages guests to explore the culture and art outside of the hotel. With this in mind, Le Meridien created a unique program called “Unlock Art.” Unlock Art is a partnership with local area cultural centers that gives Le Meridien guests entrance to certain sites by simply presenting their keycards.
Guests at Le Meridien Chiang Mai have access to the Umbrella Making Centre in Borsang. The centre offers visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the ancient art of making handmade bamboo umbrellas. Visitors are shown the umbrella-making process from start to finish, and can watch local artists create colorful paintings on each umbrella.
Le Meridien Chiang Mai is conveniently close to several well-loved tourist hotspots. Restaurants, bars, and the popular Chiang Mai Night Bazaar are all literally a few seconds walk from the hotel. It is also only a short drive to the Maesa Elephant Camp, where visitors enjoy first-hand experiences with Thai elephants and take an elephant ride through the jungle.
For guests who want to stay closer to “home,” Le Meridien has two of its own delicious restaurants and a fun, sophisticated bar. Latest Recipe offers guests casual, family-friendly dining. The restaurant features the dishes of three-star Michelin chef and LM100 member Jean-Georges Vongerichten, including his innovative “Eye-Openers,” shot glasses filled with juices such as mango chili lime.
The hotel’s other restaurant, Favola, offers a more upscale dining atmosphere and serves Italian food with a twist of Asian influence. (Tip: Before you enter Favola, take a peek over the balcony and check out the rug in the lobby. From upstairs, you can see that the rug’s design is actually a city map of Chiang Mai.) The hotel’s bar, Latitude 18 (named for its actual latitudinal location), is open all day and is a great place to have cocktails or a quick bite to eat.
Le Meridien Chiang Mai has effectively created a distinctive blend of present-day style and age-old traditional culture. Providing access to art, both in and out of the hotel, also allows guest the opportunity to have a truly unique hotel experience. From its 300-plus rooms and suites (many of which offer a view of lush green Doi Suthep mountain) to its open-concept lobby, Le Meridien Chiang Mai is a modern retreat in an ancient city.