Hotel Review: Le Meridien Thimphu, Thimphu in Bhutan
In the month of August I was invited by Sanjay Sharma, Market Vice President, North India, Bhutan & Nepal, Marriott Hotels to visit and write about the two Le Meridien hotels in Bhutan. My first visit was to the Le Meridien Paro Riverfront and I then travelled to the capital Thimphu to stay at the Le Meridien Thimphu.
After a fabulous time in Paro, I was driven to Thimphu city which is about an hour away from Paro. The drive from Paro to Thimphu is gorgeous with superb sights of the river flowing, snowcapped mountains, stunning scenery with rice paddies cascading down magnificent mountains, the pristine river that flows through the main towns of Paro and Thimphu and unique two-story houses with brightly painted window designs.
Bhutan also known as the ‘Land of Dragons’ is a Buddhist Kingdom located in the Himalayas and is not only known for its spectacular monasteries and natural beauty but also for it’s ‘Gross National Happiness’. This makes Bhutan not only a unique destination to explore beauty and spirituality but also a place one can slow down and contemplate about life’s priorities.
Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan is the nerve centre of all political, economic, social and cultural activities in the country. With a population of just over 100,000, Thimphu is the largest city and one of the most important tourist destinations in the country. It is an hour away from the Paro International Airport and connected by road from all parts of the country. Le Meridien Thimphu is set in a central location with the city’s various attractions just a few minutes away. Those who enjoy visiting Buddhist shrines can go to the Memorial Chorten, the Changangkha and Phajoding monasteries. This dynamic city is a good mix of temples, markets, cafés, mountain passes and monuments.
Deepraj Mukherjee, General Manager Le Meridien Thimphu said, “Centrally located in the heart of Thimphu City, the capital of this magnificent Himalayan Kingdom, our hotel is at a walking distance from all the cultural points in the city and local shopping alleys. Le Meridien Thimphu is a modern hotel with traditional Bhutanese touches and architecture. We also have the highest room inventory in the country with the largest Ball Room and the hotel is popular owing to it’s various food and beverage offerings.”
Le Meridien Thimphu has a beautifully designed lobby where one can spend hours just admiring the unique design. I had an immensely pleasant interaction with Digvijay Singh, Director of Sales, Le Meridien Thimphu and Drukair Royal Bhutan Airline’s Assistant Marketing Officer Tenzin Tsheltrim during which he told me about the concept of Drukair Holidays.
The hotel’s 78 guest rooms are thoughtfully planned and include nine expansive top-floor suites that incorporate different cultural reference points. The signature LM BED, High Speed Internet Access and dramatic views of the Eastern Himalayas or city of Thimphu ensure that every guest has a fantastic experience in the hotel.
It was a delight to be hosted in the Royal Suite which is a combination of modern design with traditional elements. As I entered the suite, the sight of welcome amenities was a pleasant one. I had lunch with Pema Denkar, the hotel’s Marketing & Communication Specialist in the Pan Asian restaurant called Sese Shamu.
In the evening I went to experience Explore Spa for a relaxing massage. One of the largest spas in the city, the Explore Spa at Le Meridien Thimphu is just the perfect place to explore intriguing traditions, transformative therapies and holistic experiences. The spa is a great combination of iconic mountain and city views, soft music of tingsha bells used in Tibetan Buddhist prayer rituals and a space that energizes guests.
After a relaxing spa treatment, I decided to visit Latest Recipe for dinner and was delightfully surprised to see a romantic dinner set up in the alfresco area of Latest Recipe. Sous Chef Anoop Trivedi created a Bhutanese platter for me and introduced me to the local Bhutanese buttered tea and the local rice wine. During my stay the talented Chef also created a delicious elaborate Indian thaali for me at lunch. The hotel organized for me to visit and eat at a local restaurant called the Folk Heritage Museum Restaurant to get a taste of the authentic Bhutanese food.
I visited Latitude 27 for a drink in the evening; this venue is a café retreat by day and chic lounge bar by night. Le Méridien Thimphu features the versatile Tsho Khang Grand Ballroom, the largest in any hotel in Bhutan at 382sqm along with a smaller meeting room. The hotel also features a dedicated driveway, the only one of its kind, direct to the ballroom and perfect for a grand entrance for any social occasion.
While in Thimphu, those who enjoy sightseeing must visit the Buddha Dordenma, a massive bronze statue of the Buddha. The Buddha Dordenma is an iconic monument complex in Thimphu on a mountainside overlooking the city of Thimphu. Visible from any part of the city, the statue is situated amidst the ruins of Kuensel Phodrang, the palace of Sherab Wangchuck, the thirteenth Desi Druk, who ruled the country from 1744 to 1763.
It is one of the largest Buddha Rupas (or statues) in the world, at a height of 169 feet. From the base of the statue, tourists and locals alike enjoy sweeping views of the city nestled in the valley below. The monument complex is part of a greater whole, and also includes the Kuensel Phodrang Nature Park, a 943 acre forest preserve inaugurated in 2011 to preserve the forests surrounding the statue.
Another locale worth visiting while in Thimphu is the Dochula Pass located approximately 25 kilometers from the capital city of Thimphu. Dochula Pass is located 3150 metres above sea-level along the highway to the Punakha Dzongkhag. The Pass overlooks the northern-eastern territories of Bhutan and on a clear day offers views of the northern mountain ranges bordering the Tibetan plateau. In 2003, the Queen Mother of the 05th King of Bhutan approved the construction of 108 chortens, to honor the Bhutanese soldiers who were killed in the fight to expel a rogue group of rebels.
While on my way back to India, I travelled by Drukair Royal Bhutan Airlines and experienced their superb business class facilities. Drukair Royal Bhutan Airlines – the national airline of the Kingdom of Bhutan operates a modest scheduled flight network within the South Asian region from its headquarters in Paro, a picturesque valley in western Bhutan. Everything from the seats to the service to the food was superior in quality and I had a fabulous time on the two hour flight to Delhi.
Drukair operates direct flights from Kolkata and Delhi to Paro International Airport and began operations on February 11, 1983, from Paro, a picturesque valley in western Bhutan, a 65 km drive away from the capital, Thimphu. At that time, Paro had a little airstrip servicing helicopter operations. Drukair began humbly with an 18-seat Dornier 228-200 that made its historic touch down at Paro airport on January 14, 1983, to the chant of inauguration prayers, cymbals, conches, with maroon-clad monks blessing the occasion and the plane. The first link was Kolkata, followed by six destinations in South Asia, including Bangkok.
Address: Thimphu, Bhutan
Phone: +975 2 337 788