137 Pillars House

Colonial, romantic, urban oasis

2 Soi 1 Nawatgate Road., Tambon Watgate Muang, Chiang Mai 50000

(66) 53-247-788

See Website

At a Glance

A magnificent time warp, this 30-room hotel has a very central location across the Ping River from Chiang Mai’s bustling downtown, but also creates a luxurious resort-like feel.

Indagare Loves

  • The authentic Thai teak house that evokes Old Siam
  • The beautiful tile work in the showers and bathrooms
  • Historic Wat Gate neighborhood for dining and shopping


A magnificent time warp, this 30-room hotel, across the Ping River from Chiang Mai’s bustling downtown, centers around the story from which it takes its name. In 1896, the son of Anna Leonowens’s (of The King & I fame) established the Northern Thai headquarters of the East Borneo Company in this area, which had been designated by the Thai king for foreigners to live. He brought four sprawling teak houses up from Bangkok and settled in one of them. More than two hundred years later, a Harvard-trained Thai architect bought part of this compound and worked closely with her team of historians and conservationists to meticulously reinforce the integrity of the original 1889 structure in which Louis Leonowens lived.

Amidst a verdant enclave of lady palms, mimosa trees and tropical flowers, this elegant, colonial-themed hotel takes its name from the profusion of pillars that support that building’s upper floor. Louis’ old house now hosts the property’s lounge, library, and gym, while the spa and 30 roomy accommodations occupy adjacent colonial-inspired buildings. Rooms and suites are thoughtfully appointed with large verandas, claw-foot Victorian tubs, and outdoor garden showers, then finished with woven rattan interior details, black-and-white photos of Old Siam and plenty of elephants. Even the entry level Rajah Brooks Suite is spacious, starting at around 600 square feet. Louis Leonowens Pool Suites work best for privacy-seeking couples who can play colonial dream house thanks to two levels, plus a swimmable pool and an outdoor dining and relaxation pavilion, all surrounded by flopping palms.

The spa’s Thai, Ayurveda and aromatherapy treatments suffice, although they are not Thailand’s finest. The real restorative draws here include the tropical gardens, where you can walk under elephant ear palm fronds and along the original elephant path, then cool down in the elongated swimming pool with plenty of cushy sun loungers. Switched on staff will arrive with cool towels and afternoon sweets.

While under the radar, the surrounding neighborhood of Wat Gate is one of this hotel’s strategic advantages, easily explored on foot or by borrowing the hotel’s bicycles. 137PH occupies a prime address along the Ping River and adjacent to the Wat Gate Khar Rham Temple with its multiple pagodas, monks’ living quarters and the charming Wat Gate Khar Rham Museum filled with quirky memorabilia of old Chiang Mai. To the north sits the teakwood house of a former Thai Prime Minister and to the south, you can peek into another teak residence with fine, slatted shutters affording both shade and air. A pedestrian footbridge, known as Sapan Khaek, crosses to Warorot Market just at the spot where the Lanna Kings boarded their royal boats.

Who Should Stay

History buffs especially will appreciate the authentic connection to Old Siam and the East Borneo Company, while those seeking some escape will appreciate the privacy of being removed yet not too remote. Families in need of space to sprawl and roam around on elephant back will want to head elsewhere, perhaps after overnighting here first to explore Chiang Mai city.

Written by Cynthia Rosenfeld

What's Nearby
Indagare employees walking up stiars

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