Amankora

Amankora Thimphu is a peaceful luxe resort on a forested hillside of blue pines northwest of the capital city, close to Kuenga Chhoeling Palace. It is one of five Amankora lodges in Bhutan's central and western valleys, offering service that is exceptionally attentive to guest needs.

“The Amankora experience” is what sets it apart from other luxury chains. That's how guests encapsulate the feeling of having all of one's travel needs taken care of end to end, by staff who exemplify the warm hospitality for which Bhutanese are so renowned. No need is too small. One guest who had the Amankora experience when he toured Bhutan in April 2016 with his wife related a story about asking one day for olive oil instead of butter for his bread. At every meal after that — at every Amankora resort along the tour — the staff brought olive oil to their table automatically.

The layout of Amankora Thimphu fosters a community feeling that also characterizes the Amankora experience. The spare, elegant design draws inspiration from dzong architecture, with whitewashed stone buildings arrayed alongside a courtyard. All 16 suites are wood paneled and laid out identically: a spacious, open floor plan that combines bedroom, bathroom, and lounge areas. The open plan is ideally suited to couples or single travelers, but lodge staff are happy to insert partitions to accommodate two singles. All suites have a window banquette and reading chair, a king size bed and a wood-burning stove (bukhari) to warm the space, twin vanities, a separate shower and toilet, and a terrazzo-encased bath with a view into the forest or landscaped courtyard.

A building close by houses the combined Living Room and Dining Room. Here fellow travelers mingle before meals that are served any time of day, adding to the homelike environment. The spa has three treatment rooms, a steam room, and changing areas. (Be sure to book an appointment with the head masseuse — he's so good that some guests have said it was their best massage ever.) Thimphu Lodge has nightly cultural programs in the library, and a short ride away in the valley below are area attractions like the National Textile Museum, the National Memorial Chorten, Tashichho Dzong (home of the Royal Government), and the handicraft shops and stalls along Norzin Lam.

The outstanding service and cozy yet luxurious accommodations convince many guests to stay exclusively with Amankora during their tours of Bhutan. Some return to stay with Amankora multiple times. For discerning travelers who do not mind paying for it, this is the ultimate in intimate, hassle-free travel.