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Hotel Highlights

  • Stay at five exclusive lodges dotted around Bhutan’s mountains
  • Plunging valley views, rice-paddy panoramas, and pine-forest vistas
  • Hot stone baths and herbal hot oil massages

Overview

Himalayan exploration doesn’t have to involve Gurkhas, tents and yak-hair blankets; thanks to Amankora you can now make the journey across Bhutan’s cloud-crowned, pine-lined peaks in boutique hotel bliss. With five luxurious lodges, each with its own dramatic natural backdrop, Amankora offers untouchable tranquility, jaw-plummeting views and a smug sense that you’re the only person you’ll ever meet who’s had this unique experience.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Amankora with us:

A 60 minute complimentary massage

Special offers

Exclusive rates, packages and special offers at Amankora

Amankora Journey

Facilities

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Amankora – Bhutan – Bhutan

Need To Know

Rooms

Each of the five lodges has between eight and 24 suites, with 72 in total.

Check–out

Midday, although some flexibility is possible depending on Druk Air's departure times.

Rates

Double rooms from $1550.00, excluding tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Rates include all meals and house drinks, laundry, return Paro airport transfers and visa processing. Guests staying seven nights or more will also receive a spa treatment, a private car with driver, and long road and monument permits.

Also

If you’re after a break from mountain trekking and can’t face another hot-stone spa therapy, then make like William Tell and try your hand at Bhutan’s national sport, archery. Amankora can provide tutors who’ll help you hone your bow skills.

At the hotel

Paro: library, spa with sauna, hot stone baths and yoga area. Thimphu: spa, dining deck. Punakha: tea pavilion, yoga room, steam room. Gangtey: massage rooms. Bumthang: spa, library. In rooms: bukhari wood-burning stove, terrazzo-clad bath.

Our favourite rooms

Amankora’s huge guest suites fall into two types: Paro-style, with a combination of wood and black steel walls creating an air of ultra-modern chic, and Thimphu-style, where all walls, floor and ceiling are lined with warm wooden panels. At Paro, all rooms have equally impressive views, but at Thimphu, we love rooms 14, 15 and 16, which offer guests the most privacy as well as the sounds of the nearby stream to fall asleep to. At Punakha, rooms 5 and 6 boast the best views of the paddy fields. At Gangtey, go for room 4.

Spa

Experience Bhutan's natural resources with a treatment at Amankora Spa. Traditional plant and herb-based therapies are incorporated into each of the spa's menus and each room is scented with cedarwood, the traditional remedy for respiratory, skin and arthritic conditions. Try Paro's signature hot stone bath, Himalayan salt scrub and massage or Thimpu's hot oil head massage.

Packing tips

Mountain-view-gazing is the number one activity at Amankora, so if you’re into gadget-based entertainment, a portable DVD player and some iPod speakers wouldn’t go amiss. A reading torch will help address the dim light in some bedrooms.

Also

You don’t have to stay at all five lodges, the hotel will help you put together a bespoke itinerary.

Children

The Amankora experience is more suited to adventurous couples.

Eco‐friendly

Amankora's lodges recycle extensively, including donating organic materials to pig farmers, and processing waste water. There's also a reforestation programme in place, and all power is hydroelectric, where possible.

Food & Drink

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Amankora – Bhutan – Bhutan

Hotel Restaurant

Each lodge’s dining room serves a choice of two set menus for every meal, featuring either Bhutanese cuisine, or Western, Indian or Thai. The glass-enclosed space overlooking the valley at Gangtey is the most impressive.

Hotel Bar

Each of Amankora’s outposts has a communal lounge where a selection of drinks is laid out in the evening and Bhutanese musicians sometimes play. Simply take what you fancy or mix yourself a cocktail and sit back to soak in the sunset.

Last orders

Each lodge's restaurant is open between 7am and 11pm, although early risers can ejoy breakfast out-of-hours.

Room service

The full restaurant menus are available in rooms during opening hours.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Travel attire with a spritz of evening elegance.

Top table

The tables at most of the lodges are large and communal, but, at Paro, ask to sit outside on the patio so you can gawp at the plunging mountain vistas while you eat.

+ Enlarge
Cloud-capped mountains

Amankora

Administrative Office, Near Kuenga Chhoeling Palace, Upper Motithang, PO Box 831, Paro, Bhutan, oo

Amankora's five lodges are spread out over Bhutan, from rustic Paro near the airport to nearby capital Thimphu, and more remote retreats east at Punakha, Gangtey and Bumthang.

Planes

Fly in on Bhutan's national carrier Druk Air (www.drukair.com.bt) from regional gateways including Bangkok (3.25 hours), Delhi (2.75 hours) and Kathmandu (1 hour). Bangkok flights usually leave early in the morning, so you may need to stay over in the Thai capital the night before. Bhutan's only airport is beside the small town of Paro in the Paro Valley. From there, it's about a 30-minute drive to Amankora Paro lodge, a handy base for kicking off your stay (the hotel offers free guest transfers, and can also arrange flights and visas for your trip to Bhutan).

Automobiles

To manage the rough and ready roads in Bhutan you'll need a driver – fortunately included with a car in your daily tourist tariff. Amankora can arrange private guides, drivers and long road permits for journeying between its five lodges. From Paro Airport, it's a 30-minute drive west to Amankora Paro lodge or a two-hour drive east to the lodge at Thimphu; from there it's 2.5 hours on to Punakha; then 2.5 hours further to Gangtey; and from Gangtey, it's a five-hour drive to Bumthang, the most far-flung retreat. Punakha is the lowest altitude stay, if you'd like to acclimatise before heading to higher abodes, such as Gangtey.

Reviews

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Amankora – Bhutan – Bhutan

Anonymous review

by Aun Koh , Marketing media man

It wasn’t my first time in Bhutan. I came here for 10 days in 1997 but, back then, the closest one got to luxury in a hotel was hot water and uninterrupted electricity. While I loved my trip, I did spend much of it dreaming of luxurious accommodation. So I was particularly looking forward to taking Mrs Smith for a week at Amankora, a collection of five ultra-swish lodges dotted around this t…
Read more

Amankora

Anonymous review by Aun Koh, Marketing media man

It wasn’t my first time in Bhutan. I came here for 10 days in 1997 but, back then, the closest one got to luxury in a hotel was hot water and uninterrupted electricity. While I loved my trip, I did spend much of it dreaming of luxurious accommodation. So I was particularly looking forward to taking Mrs Smith for a week at Amankora, a collection of five ultra-swish lodges dotted around this tiny mountain country, not just to show her the magical kingdom that I had fallen in love with a decade earlier, but also to treat her to her first Amanresorts experience – something I’ve also grown to adore over the past few years.

We began our journey at Paro, site of the country’s only airport, and were soon in a car, zipping along winding mountain roads. After half an hour, our driver pulled over to the side of the road. Did he, I wondered, need to go to the loo? Suddenly, from out of the forest, hotel staff started to appear. They picked up our bags and guided us through the trees and onto a soft, pine-needle covered path. Then we saw Amankora Paro. Hidden in the forest, this impressive structure – part Bhutanese, part Zen modernist fantasy – looked like the home of a reclusive Bond villain.

Check-in and check-out for any of the five Amankora lodges is generally done at either this branch or in Thimphu. The understanding is that the other three lodges – Gangtey, Punakha, and Bumthang – are so far away that you’d have to spend at least one night at either of these two properties on your way in or out. What’s wonderful is that once you’ve checked in at one location, they’ll just hand you a key when you arrive at another – no need for a new set of forms.

Paro is made up of several small buildings, spread out across expansive grounds. To get to our room, we had to go down a staircase, past the building that housed the hotel’s only restaurant, across a small courtyard and then up another short flight of steps. Thank God I was acclimatising to the thin Himalayan air quickly. Our Zen-like room was lovely and large, and had the feel of a futuristic hunting lodge. The interiors were primarily wood, mixed with some mild steel cladding, and the large open bathroom was dominated by a giant bathtub. Mrs Smith’s weary eyes lit up with delight.

At dinner, we were quite surprised by the dining room. We didn’t so much mind the communal tables – though it was odd that everyone was sitting as far away from each other as possible – but the dark and sombre décor, and lack of music made the affair a little more serious than we’d have liked. All of the Amankora restaurants offer just two set-menu options at lunch and dinner. At Paro, for example, guests can choose between Indian or Bhutanese cuisine.

The following day, we set off for Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital, to stay at Amankora Thimphu, situated in a wooded area just minutes outside the city. The hotel, the largest of the five lodges, may have been built to look like an old Bhutanese fort, but, inside, there’s some very sexy contemporary features. Its large rooms were similar in style to those at Paro – the only differences were the orientation of the bathtub and the use of materials on the walls and ceilings. While Paro’s rooms were a raw mix of wood and steel, the rooms here were mostly wood, with a touch of painted cement.

Before we headed into town to do a spot of sightseeing, our excellent guide – who travelled with us to all the Amankora properties – asked us what we wanted for lunch the following day. Because getting to Amankora Gangtey would take us a good half-day, he suggested we stop at a few places along the way, and take a midday break. Mrs Smith and I both chose the Thai picnic – strangely, the idea of chowing down a Bhutanese cheese curry, followed by a bumpy car ride, didn’t sit well with us.

The drive to Amankora Gangtey was both beautiful and occasionally terrifying. Our driver swung his little SUV around the steep one-lane mountain roads like a teenager with a PlayStation. By the time we drove into the Gangtey valley, the sun was already setting. We had spied the hotel from quite a distance. Its clean lines and modern architecture stood out dramatically in the landscape, creating a gorgeously stark marriage of contrasts.

Unlike the other lodges, which are made up of several buildings, Gangtey is contained in just one. All rooms have amazing views of the valley. Tired after our journey, Mrs Smith and I decided to relax in front of the gorgeous vista, cocktails by our sides, and read the novels we’d packed, before heading down for a quiet dinner of Western fare in the Spartan dining area.

Punakha Valley was only a few hours drive from Gangtey, but it felt like a world away. While Gangtey was cool and dry, this lush, subtropical valley where the Bhutanese royals spend their winters, was warm and humid. Green and dotted with rice paddies, it all felt more Bali than Bhutan. To get to Amankora Punakha, guests have to cross a small river via a beautiful, prayer flag-clad bridge. Staff then ferry guests on golf buggies past the rice fields and up to the property.

Our room here, housed in a small, modernist wooden building just off the large stone courtyard, was identical to the one we had stayed in Paro. In a way, by designing identical rooms across the various lodges, Amanresorts has made the transition between its Bhutanese hotels easy and enjoyable. Because we were familiar with where everything would be, unpacking and getting comfortable in each room was a breeze. Now that’s not a phrase you’d have heard me saying when I first came here 10 years ago.

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel with us, we'll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Amankora's Guestbook below.

 

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