Amankora Punakha in Bhutan makes most hotel arrivals seem somewhat pedestrian: the hotel is accessed via a suspension bridge over the sparkling Mo Chhu River. This traditional Bhutanese farmhouse has pedigree; it was built by a former Je Khenpo (chief abbot of Bhutan), after all. Within its walled courtyard, soothing suites and a relaxed kitchen await; further afield, outdoors adventures beckon. Consider this your laidback launchpad to voyages of discovery involving orange orchards, tiered rice terraces, rugged countryside and ah-maize-ing cuisine.
Noon; earliest check-in, 2pm. Both are flexible, subject to availability. If you’re arriving early or departing late, you can use the steam room and shower room.
Double rooms from £1458.40 ($1,860), including tax at 20 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional government tax of $60.00 per person per night prior to arrival and an additional government tax of $65.00 per person per night prior to arrival.
Rates usually include all meals (including picnics), in-house drinks, airport transfers, laundry, use of an on-loan private vehicle (and a driver). Stay for seven nights or more, and you’ll also have an English-speaking guide at your disposal.
You’ll need to pay a one-off Sustainable Tourism Fund contribution (US$10 a person). Amankora can help with the processing and issuance of the visa and authorisation letter to enter Bhutan; this must be done at least three weeks before departure, and is subject to a one-off payment (US$40 a person).
At the hotel
Gardens, courtyard, library, steam room. In rooms: working fireplace, air-conditioning (individually controlled), free bottled water, blackout curtain, shaving mirror and Aman bath products.
Our favourite rooms
They’re all born equal, stylistically – the main point of difference is whether you opt for a ground- or first-floor perch, and kip in the main house or the new building (home to the two Mo Chhu Suites). Each suite has a snore-prompting Aman bed, a traditional wood-burning stove and a freestanding bath tub.
The pool is in a peaceful patch of the gardens, with eye-widening rural views and a clutch of sun loungers.
The Amankora Punakha Spa has a steam room, two single treatment rooms and a yoga studio, which doubles up as a couple’s treatment room. Opt for one of the three signature facials: grounding, purifying or nourishing.
Bring boots fit for hiking and warm layers for cool nights.
Try to nab a table beneath the shady courtyard tree by day; sit opposite the bonfire by night.
Hip hiker. Bring warm layers to wear by the bonfire (shellsuits: not advisable).
The farmhouse kitchen is positioned at the back of the farmhouse. Meals are served in the two snug front rooms and out on the pretty courtyard terrace, graced with sweeping views of the countryside. Pick from the Bhutanese and Western menu – but don’t miss the tomato and feta salad, which stars toms plucked from the hotel’s garden. Traditional live musicians sometimes play, to the delight of diners. Rates include all meals, house wines and cocktails.
It’s a very relaxed setup – mealtimes are arranged around your preferences.
PO Box 333
Kingdom of Bhutan
Punakha is a remote town in the Himalayas, in Bhutan’s scenic south.
It’s a four-hour drive from Paro International Airport to the hotel. Druk Air flies into the country from a range of Asian and Indian destinations; Bhutan Airlines flies from Bangkok, Kathmandu and Kolkata. Talk to the Smith24 team if you’re looking for help with your travel plans.
You don’t need to worry about wheels, since the hotel offers the services of an on-loan driver.
Worth getting out of bed for
Isn’t it time you perfected your archery skills? You can do exactly that here. Unwind with some yoga, laze by the pool and embark on a walk or two in the surrounding forests. Admire Bhutanese architecture in all its glory at Khamsum Yulley Namgyal. This chorten (important Buddhist monument) was designed to deflect negative forces and create peace and harmony for all living beings. Admire Bhutan’s longest suspension bridge, Punakha, which sprawls across the Po Chu River, fed by glaciers in the Lunana region of the Punakha valley. Gawp in wonder at Punakha Dzong, which served as the capital and seat of government until the Fifties; it remains the winter residence of the dratshang (official monk body). Bhutan’s kings have all been crowned here. If you come in spring, you’ll get to see the lilac jacarandas in full bloom.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this rural hotel in the Himalayas and unpacked their walking gear and cashmere, a full account of their rugged mountain break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Amankora Punakha in Bhutan
Trust Aman to take a traditional farmhouse with heritage architecture and sensitively transform it into a luxurious hideaway with quiet hospitality and generous all-inclusive rates. A stay here is as close to a Bhutanese fairytale as you’re likely to get, thanks to the suspension-bridge entrance and milk-and-honey–hued historic building. Things get even better behind those gracious courtyard walls, which hide eight seductive suites, a peaceful pool, appetite-sating kitchen and charming staff. This is Bhutan’s scenic south, with the tropical climate to match, but don’t panic if the temperature drops by night: traditional bukhari wood-burning stoves and freestanding bath tubs beg to be made the most of.