We’ve left no ancient stone unturned in seeking the best boutique hotels for temple-hopping in Asia. Our top picks from the Mr & Mrs Smith collection are perfect for keeping up with the Indiana Joneses and unwinding after shrine-and-statuary-filled days…
137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai
Handy for market rummaging and temple hops, 137 Pillars House – a 19th-century boutique hotel in Chiang Mai’s Wat Gate quarter – updates old-school Thai glamour with sleek modern design (and was once home to Louis Leonowens, son of Anna of Anna and the King movie fame). We love its organic Thai menu, pretty spa decor and the cascading ivy wall by the swimming pool. Explore more of the area’s genteel European architecture by foot or bike (Wat Gate was once the dedicated residential enclave for foreigners) and you’ll glimpse the gilding of Khar Rham Temple. It’s still an active centre for monks and nearby Wat Gate Khar Rham Museum offers a satisfying culture hit.
Smith extra: a 30-minute head and shoulder massage each
Aman At Summer Palace, Beijing
What better way to see Beijing’s places of worship than from a hotel set alongside a once-upon-a-time palace? Housed in elegant pavilions that were once imperial waiting rooms, boutique hotel Aman at Summer Palace Beijing invites guests into the Qing Dynasty’s inner quarters. Set aside some time to explore the Palace’s sprawling complex of peaceful gardens and striking, tiered buildings on the leafy shores of Kunming Lake. Then get your temple fix with trips to serene Buddhist sanctums close by and the colourful Temple of Heaven complex: daintily detailed 15th-century religious buildings where emperors would come to pray for a good harvest.
Smith extra: a private tour of the Summer Palace
Amanjiwo, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Exceedingly grand luxury stay Amanjiwo has elegant columns lining its rotunda (and propping up the four-poster beds in suites), friendly, in-the-know butlers and an impressive art collection. However, it’s the breath-stealing views of ninth-century temple Borobudur – set in a green, volcano-formed valley – you’ll save your superlatives for. When you can tear your gaze away, explore the forests of Central Java by elephant, then book a private dawn or sunset visit to to the temple, for life-long memories and some evocative snaps.
Smith extra: a 60-minute massage for two
Belmond La Residence D’Angkor, Cambodia
Swathed in ferns and palms, with a discreet courtyard – inlaid with an eye-catching inky swimming pool – Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor has delightful hidden corners. This stylish sanctuary encourages you to slow right down, with soak-all-day, oversize bath tubs in rooms and free meditation classes with a Buddhist monk. Get intimately acquainted with the area’s history; ask the hotel to arrange guided tours to the Angkor temple complex, the Roluos Group of temples and eerily overgrown Beng Mealea further afield. Round off your day with a magical sunset boat ride across Tonlé Sap Lake.
Smith extra: a cocktail each in the Martini Lounge
The Siam, Bangkok
The intimate Opium Spa by Sodashi draws pleasure hounds to riverside hotel The Siam; its array of treatments use all-natural products inspired by the earth and sea and you can choose between solo or couple’s suites with steam rooms, saunas and Jacuzzis – bliss. This boutique Bangkok stay is just fifteen minutes away from devotion-inspiring temples Wat Pho and Wat Arun downstream. Spend a day communing with past deities and end it in heavenly fashion, with a trip to the hammam-style Bath House.
Smith extra: a Thai cooking class for two, including market tour and three-course lunch preparation (excludes drinks and must be reserved in advance)
Mr & Mrs Smith gets you the best rates, guaranteed, as well as a little something extra on arrival at every hotel. To book, call toll free at 800 905 326 or visit mrandmrssmith.com.