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The Rachamankha hotel in Chiang Mai

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Created by two of Thailands most renowned designers and architects, Rachamankha is more a treasury of old Lanna culture than simply a hotel. Lanna artwork and Chinese antiquities abound in every room and space, along with unique pieces from Burma and Laos.

No expense was spared, nor was any detail ignored, in constructing and decorating Rachamankha. For architect Ong-art Satrabandhu and designer Rooj Changtrakul, this labour of love transcends the bottom line.

Modelled after the viham or 'chapel' of one of Thailand's most beautiful temples-the Wat Phra That Lampang Luang in the Lampang province-this 24-room, single storey inn is a near assemblage of white  plaster buildings capped by peaked terracotta roofs. To reflect its roots in Thai architecture, the hotel was planned according to ancient building principles.

As its heart are two manicured courtyard, rich with flowering trees and an open-air pavilion decorated with plush wihte couches, posts of vibrant flowers, and antique Thai artwork. Peace reigns here despite Rachamankha's location just off Chiang Mai's main thoroughfare.

Thick walls covered with white limestone plaster keep the rooms invitingly cool. Large and comfortable, the rooms each differ slightly in decor, thanks to the antique furnishings: old Lanna-style doors with ornate handles, table laps of delicate Chinese porcelain, and charming lanterns with dangling tassels.

A teal-tiled pool inspires contemplation, while a handsome library of art and history books could keep Rachamankha's guests entertained for days. A huge cloth painting depicting the life of Lord Buddha presides over The Restaurant. Here, traditional Thai cuisine is served alongside a selection of dishes that combine the flavours of Vietnam, Japan and Europe.

After your meal, adjourn to The Bar, decorated with a rare Chinese antique liqueur screen and lithographs by early 20th century painters.

So chic and well-designed is this hotel that it made the Conde Nast Traveller 2005 Hot list- less than a year after it opened.

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