Samyae Resort

Constructed in 2011 on a self-contained hill plot just off the Thimphu-Bumthang highway 2 km south of Chamkhar town, Samyae Resort is a new and welcome presence in Bumthang. It's a large property at 54 rooms — 8 suites, 9 deluxes, 35 standard doubles, and 2 standard singles. Traditional Bhutanese architecture and motifs mix with modern features and conveniences throughout. Carved wooden masks adorn columns, an outside prayer wheel awaits turning, low painted carved wood tables are plentiful — and so is the hot water and in-room heating for Bumthang winters that often plunge below freezing.

The rooms manage a relaxed and homey feel while being hygienic and well maintained. Standard rooms have comfortable thick mattresses, bedside tables, vanity desks, closets, floors and walls entirely lined in wood, and bathtubs with overhead showers. The more spacious deluxe rooms and suites have larger furnishings and bathrooms, three-seater wicker sofas, and carved wood tables and chairs. Every room has an electric kettle and 24/7 service, and rooms on the upper floors have panoramic views over Chamkhar town and Choekhor valley. Free wi-fi is available in the lobby and reception area.

Close by in a separate building is the restaurant and bar, serving Bhutanese, Indian, Chinese, Continental cuisine a la carte and buffet style. Buckwheat pancakes for breakfast — a Bumthang favorite — are a big hit. A fireplace keeps the whole place cozy. The property also features a handicrafts shop, business center, and conference hall with capacity for 100.

Hotel staff are universally friendly and helpful, and on request they can arrange a traditional dance performance by locals around a campfire. Altogether, Samyae makes a good launching pad from which to discover this most holy of valleys in Bhutan.