Eye up birds (of the winged and feathered kind) at Six Senses Gangtey, which shares its peaceful Phobjikha Valley perch with visiting black-necked cranes from Tibet. Natural highs continue in the form of the hotel’s eco-conscious design – all local stone, golden wood and soothing hues – and Baa Zam restaurant’s health-conscious cuisine, which stars organic produce plucked from the on-site vegetable garden. Minimalist rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows bring the outdoors in, hinting at days spent hiking in the Black Mountains and hanging out with the monks at the nearby Gangtey Monastery. Added zen comes in the form of the ambitious spa, which does the Six Senses brand proud.
Get this when you book through us:
A 30-minute foot massage or a body scrub (for two)
Noon, but flexible for a fee. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £1271.78 ($1,740), including tax at 20 per cent.
Rates usually include à la carte breakfast.
At the hotel
Bird-watching bridge, fire-pit, lounge, library, cinema/games room, and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: working fireplace, desk, air-conditioning, free bottled water, tea and coffee kit.
Our favourite rooms
If you want better bird’s-eye views than the black-necked cranes, opt for the spacious Two-Bedroom Villa, which has more than enough space to fit you and your whole flock.
Six Senses is famous for its wellness offerings and rightly so: step inside the spa at Six Senses Gangtey and you’ll be rewarded with pampering Swedana treatments and cinematic panoramas of the peaceful Phobjikha Valley.
Bring keen eyes (or binoculars) for wildlife-spotting, plus something you can comfortably hike up and down the Black Mountains in.
All ages are welcome, but the hotel is best suited to ages six and above. Parents, take note: there are lots of steps and stairs, so it’s not ideal for buggies.
This isn't as child-friendly as some of Six Senses' other Bhutan lodges, but your guest-experience manager will try their darnedest put together an itinerary to keep them entertained. This might include gentle hikes, cookery lessons or traditional dress-up.
With simple rice bowls, crudites, sandwiches, momo dumplings, banana pancakes and ice-cream sandwiches, the kids' menu is a good mix of comforting favourites and new things to try.
Endearingly, the hotel supports a local centre with funding to protect Gangtey’s endangered black-necked cranes. Plastic-free Six Senses Bhutan Gangtey Lodge also uses home-grown organic produce in its restaurant, favours eco-friendly bath and cleaning products, and conscientiously recycles.
Cosy up near the bhukari in winter; in summer, nab a table by the view-toting full-length windows.
Anything goes here, but you could add avian-inspired details or a feather or two to please the local birdlife.
Nature-loving Baa Zam sources most of its organic produce from its own kitchen gardens and mushroom huts, with everything else procured locally from prime suppliers. The clever chefs cater to all tastes, rustling up Western, Bhutanese and regional dishes. Floor-to-ceiling windows equate to stellar views of the black-necked cranes’ preferred nesting spots; a traditional bhukari (wood-burning stove) in the centre of the room adds warmth and Bhutanese charm in equal measures.
There’s no formal bar as such, but Baa Zam is a swish setting for a tipple or two.
Food is served at Baa Zam from 6am until 11pm, daily.
Six Senses Gangtey sits on the western slopes of Bhutan’s Black Mountains, in rural Gangtey, at an elevation of 9,843 feet (3,000 metres). The region is a designated conservation area and the site of the 17th-century Gangtey Monastery.
Bhutan's international airport is located in Paro, a six-hour drive away. The kingdom's national carrier, Druk Air, and Bhutan Airlines both provide international flights. Transfers are included with guide services booked through the hotel.
Stick to hotel transfers; there are lots of rules and regulations around tourists driving in Bhutan.
Worth getting out of bed for
Reconnect with Mother Nature with help from Six Senses Gangtey, which is set in scenic forests and farmland. Take the hint from the hotel’s setting: embark on hikes and visit ancient sites.
Start with the hotel’s on-site lures: indulge in spa treatments, borrow bicycles and explore the surrounding forests and farmland, or set off on two feet to tackle the hiking trails that unfurl picturesquely from the lodge. For a more ambitious walk, try the Gangtey Nature Trail: a two-hour hike that begins by the 17th-century Gangtey Monastery and ends at the bottom of the valley. Marvel at 15th-century Tibetan-style architecture by visiting the nearby Khewang Lhakhang temple, which was ambitiously built to control famine and diseases, ward off ill wishes and to help the spirits of former sinners find the path to celestial bliss.
Don’t miss Gangtey’s Black-Necked Crane Centre, which has informative displays, powerful spotting scopes, a handy field guide to crane behaviour and a well-stocked library.
This is a remote spot, with very few neighbours (and none of the culinary kind), so stay put and enjoy the hotel’s delicious dining.
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 Bhutan and unpacked their gold and silver jewellery and Bhutanese tea leaves, a full account of their Eastern Himalayas break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Six Senses Gangtey in the Phobjikha Valley…
Chances are, you’ve not spent that much time hanging out with the monks at Gangtey Monastery, admiring black-necked cranes and warming up by a bhukari (traditional stove) while sampling hearty Bhutanese mountain cuisine – but you can change all that at Six Senses Bhutan Gangtey Lodge. This peaceful stay in the dramatic Black Mountains is an ode to nature in hotel form, built with local stone and wood, and boasting prime views of glacial Phobjikha (aka Gangtey) Valley. The hotel has given its dramatic architecture the not-very-catchy nickname, ‘Traditional Bird-Watching Bridge’, thanks to its cantilevered, bridge-like structure and bird-spying floor-to-ceiling windows. Forests and farmland surround the lodge, inviting guests to embark on winter hikes, monastery visits and summer picnics; and the spoiling Six Senses spa caters generously to tired explorers.