Introduction: Journey To Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, And Kuwait
Review: Air France Lounge San Francisco Airport
Review: Korean Air Business Class 747-8 San Francisco To Seoul
Review: Korean Air Business Class 777 Seoul To Kathmandu
Review: Hyatt Regency Kathmandu
Review: Kathmandu Airport Lounge
Review: Drukair Business Class A319 Kathmandu To Paro
Review: Le Meridien Thimphu
Review: Le Meridien Paro
Hiking To The Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan
How We Spent Our Time In Bhutan
Review: Drukair Economy ATR42 Paro To Dhaka
Review: Presidential Suite At The Le Meridien Dhaka
Review: Dhaka Airport Lounge
Review: Kuwait Airways Business Class A330 Dhaka To Kuwait
Review: Sheraton Kuwait
Review: Kuwait Airways Lounge Kuwait Airport
Review: Kuwait Airways Business Class 777 Kuwait To Shannon
Review: Kuwait Airways Business Class 777 Shannon To New York
Le Meridien has two properties in Bhutan, which is pretty cool. Bhutan is a country that has a lot of independent hotels, and then also a lot of super high end luxury hotels (like Amans), which run $1,000+ per night. So it’s great to have a mid-range option where you can redeem points. There aren’t really any other mid-range chain hotels in the country where you can redeem points, which is why I was excited to review these hotels.
With five nights in Bhutan, we split our time between the two Le Meridien properties — we spent the first three nights at Le Meridien Thimphu, and then the next two nights at Le Meridien Paro. The order and number of nights we stayed was entirely dictated by availability. The Paro property was sold out for the first three nights, which is why we did the first three nights in Thimphu.
At the time I booked, both of these hotels were Category 5 SPG properties, and both had Cash & Points available, so the cost was $110 plus 6,000 Starpoints per night. Both hotels had cash rates of $400+ including tax and service charge, so I considered that to be a good deal.
Both of these hotels were recently lowered to Category 4, so they can now be booked for 5,000 Starpoints plus $75 per night, which is an incredible deal. Being able to redeem points in Bhutan — especially at such a reasonable cost — is awesome, given how expensive the country is otherwise.
In the next two installments I’ll talk about the two hotels, and then I’ll separately discuss what we did in Thimphu, Paro, and the rest of the country.
When we arrived in Paro our guide and driver picked us up, and after making a few stops we drove to Thimphu, which is about an hour from Paro.
Most of the buildings in Bhutan have a similar design, which I love, and even the Le Meridien had that design, which I thought was cool.
The Le Meridien has a beautiful lobby, with plenty of seating, including couches, communal tables, etc.
Reception was located inside the lobby and straight ahead.
The check-in process was efficient. I was informed that as an SPG Platinum member I had been upgraded to a junior suite. Furthermore, this hotel offers free breakfast and happy hour for Platinum members, without even having to choose breakfast as the Platinum welcome amenity.
We were escorted up to the fourth (top) floor of the hotel, where our room was located. Once out of the elevators we turned right, and our room was the first one on the right.
Even though we were “just” in a junior suite, it was actually a named suite. Still, for Platinum upgrade purposes, this is considered a “standard” suite.
When I hear “junior suite” I generally think of a single room with a small living area. However, the junior suites at this hotel are in fact full suites, as they feature a separate living room and bedroom.
The room had a large living room with a dining table for four, a high-top table with some stools, a couch facing a TV, and a desk.
The couch was comfy, as was the lime green chair next to it.
The desk in the living room was comfortable, and had a proper office chair. There were conveniently placed outlets, and the TV was right next to the desk.
The minibar area was back near the entrance, by the high-top table.
There was a coffee machine, kettle, lots of bottled water, and a full minibar.
Right by the entrance was a small half bathroom.
There was a door separating the living room from the bedroom. The bedroom had a comfortable king size bed, as well as a chair with ottoman.
There was a TV on a console on the opposite side of the room, along with a bench.
The master bathroom was off the bedroom, and featured double sinks, a tub, a walk-in shower, and a toilet.
It was a well designed bathroom, with Le Meridien brand standard toiletries.
Both rooms faced the city of Thimphu, as well as the mountains in the background.
There was a fruit plate as a welcome amenity.
They also loved using towel art at this hotel, which was all over the room, and then they added more at turndown service every night. I almost felt like I was on a cruise ship (for better or worse).
Wifi in the room was fast, and we were grateful to have a suite, given the odd hours I work.
My one minor complaint was the room’s design. Don’t get me wrong, I thought the room was beautiful and brand standard for Le Meridien, but I wish they had incorporated more local elements into the room. Bhutan is such a stunning country with a unique design, while this could have been a room in any city in the world.
Just down the hall from our room was a club lounge. However, the hotel doesn’t seem to actually use it. They built it, but don’t do anything with it. I got the sense that they don’t get a lot of SPG members here, but rather get a lot of guests who book tour packages. Furthermore, Bhutan isn’t exactly a business market. I wonder if they’ll ever do anything with this space.
As Platinum members we received complimentary breakfast in Latest Recipe every morning. The restaurant serves breakfast daily until 10:30AM.
The breakfast selection was excellent — I’ll let the pictures mostly speak for themselves.
In addition to the buffet you could order eggs, pancakes, etc. One morning I had an omelet, which was tasty.
Another morning I had the buckwheat pancakes, which were also good.
The restaurant also had great freshly squeezed juices.
Service in the restaurant was phenomenal. Everyone working there was friendly, and they remembered our drink order after the first morning, which I always appreciate. In fairness, breakfast was never anywhere close to full (we were among the only ones there).
This hotel is generous in that they have a complimentary happy hour for Platinum members, nightly from 6PM until 8PM. It’s available in Latitude 27, the hotel’s bar and coffeeshop.
As a Platinum member you could order off the following menu:
This includes being able to order cocktails, and also food.
In terms of food, the highlight of the hotel was Sese Shamu, the hotel’s Southeast Asian restaurant. It was so good that we had lunch there two days.
Part of their menu read as follows:
I had their traditional Bhutanese tasting menu twice, which was so good. Seriously, this was the best food I had the whole trip.
In terms of other features, the hotel also has a pool, spa, and gym. The indoor pool is pretty nice and just off the lobby, though we didn’t use it.
The gym was one level above the pool, and featured a nice variety of equipment.
Initially we intended to spend very little time in the hotel, though the night we arrived there was a huge snowstorm. This was the first snow that Bhutan had received all year, and the first day of snow is apparently a holiday in the country. It snowed like crazy for nearly two days.
This greatly limited what we could do, since many places were closed, road conditions were bad, I didn’t bring shoes for hiking in snow, etc. So we ended up spending a bit more time in the hotel that we were expecting to.
Thimphu is the biggest city in Bhutan, and it’s a great jumping off point for visiting temples, hiking, etc. It’s also a pretty nifty town, much cooler than Paro, in my opinion.
Le Meridien Thimphu bottom line
The Le Meridien Thimphu is a fantastic option for any points enthusiast visiting Bhutan. I’ll be writing more about our actual time in Bhutan in a future installment, but Paro and Thimphu are two of the best bases from which to explore.
The Le Meridien was a beautiful hotel with top notch staff — everyone we interacted with was friendly (come and think of it, that was true for the country as a whole). The Platinum recognition at this hotel is great as well, between the suite upgrade, breakfast, and free happy hour.
However, I do wish the hotel did a better job of integrating local design. This feels like a generic Le Meridien property. While I don’t love that part of it, this is still an awesome option to have. As I said above, Bhutan has either super high end 5-star properties, or local properties that are mostly 3-stars or so (at least that’s my understanding). There’s not that much in the middle, so having a great points option is useful.