Le Méridien Thimphu

Centrally-located Le Méridien Thimphu is a rarity among world-class hotels, exuding a palpable warmth and sense of familiarity while still feeling chic, modern, and bright. Every last thing seems to have been done with an eye toward guests' benefit, from the om mani padme hum mantra blessing on the ceiling of the lobby entrance to the back-lit auspicious symbols that adorn the headboard in every room.

The lobby is airy and thoughtfully laid out, its early-60s vibe creating a space to chill out and meet up with friends and associates. Arriving guests are welcomed with a complimentary drink and can check in from the comfort of lobby couches.

All 78 rooms in Le Méridien Thimphu are clean and spacious, with top-of-the-line bathroom fixtures, standalone showers and bathtubs, flat screen TVs with satellite channels, minibar, safes, bathrobes, 24-hour room service, and free high-speed wifi. The two top tier Royal Suites are positively gigantic: king size bed, a palatial two-sink bathroom, large sitting room with flat-screen TV, coffee machine, and dining area fully set for six, where guests can have restaurant food delivered directly up to their table.

The restaurants below offer some of Thimphu's best dining. Sese Shamu, the signature restaurant, serves a wide selection of Pan Asian cuisine in the afternoon and evenings. Latest Recipe is open all day, starting with a signature breakfast selection of Continental classics and Eye Opener Espresso Shots.

Latitude 27 bar starts every day as a coffee shop, serving Illy coffee and signature eclairs. (Tip: Ask for their betel nut eclair — something you're sure not to find elsewhere.) Toward late afternoon it transforms into a bar popular with tourists and locals alike, especially during the 6–8 p.m. happy hour when trained bartenders serve signature sparkling drinks and cocktails.

The Explore spa offers further respite from the capital city’s busyness, with a range of treatments found in many European spas, a heated indoor swimming pool, and a superior fitness center offering views onto the street below. The business center has space for 10 guests, and two adjoined conference rooms are available on the lower level.

It's these “signature” touches — the chain's impeccably executed brand elements — that really set this Le Méridien and its sisters in the chain apart. A musk signature scent wafts into the lobby entrance area, every room has an exceptionally comfortable signature bed, the elevator that whisks you up there has signature music playlists streamed in. They call it “unlocking the destination”: giving guests familiar touch points while they explore the unfamiliar beyond the glass front doors. Guests who favor this blend of brand and destination can become Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty customers, unlocking special privileges available only to SPG members. Ask about it at the reception desk.

The Club Lounge on the top floor, equipped with a TV and a computer, is reserved for members of the loyalty program and guests staying in the hotel’s suites and deluxe rooms. Close by are all of Thimphu's main attractions, including the National Memorial Chorten just up Chhoten Lam, Clock Tower Square, Changlimithang Stadium, the National Institute for Zorig Chusum (traditional visual arts and crafts), the Buddha Dordenma statue, and Simtokha Dzong.