Officially opened on November 1, X2 (cross-to) Chiang Mai Riverside Resort is located on the bank of the Ping River on a quiet stretch of Charoen Rat Road. Like the other photogenic properties under X2 brand, this new resort too exudes minimal chicness while deriving inspiration from its locality.
The Lanna flair is subtly represented here. The brick exterior immediately brings to mind Chiang Mai’s city gates. The lobby is naturally lit by day and welcomes guests with a view of a beautiful courtyard. It turns quite mesmerising at night as warm lights glow from recesses on the wall. A hotel corridor can feel dense and perfunctory but X2’s hallway is brightened with pictures of Siamese fighting fish. Walk around and you may come across a sitting area or a bench placed next to a window. And instead of the usual signage, the room numbers are lit, casting their shadows right onto the wall. We haven’t entered a room yet but it’s already quite like a walk through an Architectural Digest. Needless to say, boyfriend photographers and their model girlfriends (you know who you are) will have a field day capturing their memories here.
We checked into a Riverfront Suite with a high ceiling. The wall covering behind the big and comfy bed is beautifully hand-etched with an image of Siamese fighting fish. The headboard doubles as a table with a hidden mirror and storage space. A Thai-style double-panel door opens to a spacious en-suite bathroom where every bit inside is neatly arranged. The extensive toiletry set and the towel pyramid can be found at the basin counter, big enough for him and her (or her and her or him and him).
We don’t know about you but we always leave our rooms in disarray. Well, why be neat when you’re vacationing, right? Every time we came back, the towel pyramid was neatly stacked as it was at first, while our bits and bobs were neatly arranged. The housekeeping team deserves a shout-out for being meticulous.
From the big private balcony with a couch for two, you can overlook The Oxygen Dining Room restaurant (more on it later) and the Ping River further down. The balcony’s generous size, however, inadvertently made us think, “Would it be perfect if there was a big bathtub here?”
Go for either a Riverfront Suite on the ground floor with outdoor seating in front as you can walk outside from your private balcony, or one on the second floor to get the extra high ceiling.
We also snuck into one of the two Pool Suite River View, the most expensive accommodation choice available, for a quick look. The setup was similar but of course with more square-metres and luxurious features. The big bathtub in the bathroom is nice but luxuriating in a glittering outdoor private pool with fountain spouts is even better. Adding to even more exclusivity and privacy is the tall hedge and a private walkway leading to the river.
If you don’t mind going without all the bells, whistles and the river view, a Tamarind Suite which overlooks the courtyard will suit you just fine.
The resort really ups the FB game by hiring Nicolas Isnard, whose restaurant L’Auberge de la Charme was awarded a Michelin star in 2009, as their consulting chef to oversee all FB matter. Foodies should know his name for special dishes he did for many leading hotels in Thailand and neighbouring countries. There are three FB venues, each of which has its own distinct character.
Ozone is where you can find a 24/7 gym, a swimming pool and a rooftop bar. By day, there are sunbeds placed right in the pool so you can lounge on your own little island. By night, recline inside one of the cabanas with a cocktail in hand while the fibre optic lit infinity pool turns beautifully starry. Sleek-looking H20 Water Bar and Tea Lounge carries 50 brands of water — still and sparkling — and extensive selection of teas. If tea isn’t your cup of tea, there are mocktails and cocktails to be enjoyed with fancy tapas and snacks. Think bite-sized Nicoise salad served in spoons and pizza tarts. Last but most importantly is Oxygen Dining Room. The chic greenhouse-inspired restaurant is just a short walk away from the river. Opt for the outdoor section to enjoy a morning breeze with your breakfast or an afternoon tea, weather permitting. Here you can expect creative and scrumptious dishes by chef Nicolas like Cannelloni khao soi and Prawn tartare. At the time of writing, they are putting the final touches on a spa and a private pier.
Should you want to switch to something real local, Khao Soi Lam Duan is literally a stone throw away across the street from the hotel. Kheuy Chiang Mai restaurant is another one within walking distance from the resort where you can enjoy a homely meal (do order their spicy bamboo soup). Tha Phae Gate is about a 10-minute ride away if traffic is light. Of course, time your visit well to enjoy the Sunday walking street on Ratchadamnoen Road. It takes a little more than 10 minutes, if you want to go from the hotel to Nimman area. Good news is that the resort provides a shuttle service on Saturdays to Wua Lai for a night market and Sundays to Tha Phae.
We think X2 Chiang Mai Riverside Resort definitely debuts with a bang through its great service, signature sense of style and its serving up of Michelin-level meals. It’s a little sanctuary so you can go out and explore or, well, just stay in and chill.
X2 Chiang Mai Riverside Resort, 369/1 Charoen Rat Road, Wat Ket, Muang. http://x2resorts.com/resorts/chiang-mai-riverside, http://fb.com/X2chiangmairiverside, 053-931-999. Their ongoing promos include long-term stay with up to 20% discount for 10-night stay and special rates when you book at least 14 days in advance.