The ancient Kingdom of Bhutan is like a woman that outwardly seems quiet and reserved, but whose eyes glimmer with a sense of adventure and excitement, the kind of person you can’t help but wonder about. You know the type. Bhutan is like this; seductively mysterious with the kind of urging that begs to be noticed, but only if you’re willing to take a closer look.
One of the most undiscovered destinations in the world, the kingdom has retained its incredible natural beauty in the eastern Himalayas and remains a place where the traditional Buddhist culture thrives, even among its (few) modern developments. Opening its doors in 2013, Gangtey Goenpa Lodge has made this magical place its home with only 12 suites and a full-service restaurant to call its own.
Viewing out onto the beautiful Gangte Valley, the property’s interiors were designed by Mar Lou Thompson (Aman Sveti Stefan) and features dark wooden beams, rich local fabrics, plush sofas, floor-to-ceiling windows and Bhutanese décor. When settling into your room, you are welcomed with a complimentary shoulder massage, no doubt in part because of the length of time your body has had to endure traveling to this far away destination.
Each suite comes with its own fireplace and heated hand-cut stone floors for those chilly evenings and earthen tones that pair with elegant furnishings. Accommodations include a standalone deep-soaking tub that views out onto the valley and monastery below.
As far as amenities go, the hotel doesn’t have much in the way of venues and activities, it does, however, have its own restaurant which serves Western, Bhutanese and Asian cuisine on a communal table (so feel free to get cozy with your neighbor). The main lodge area is the hotel’s main focal point with floor-to-ceiling windows, leather sofas and two large fireplaces that implore you to spend an afternoon relaxing with a cocktail in hand. There’s also complimentary Wi-Fi throughout so you’re sure to always be connected to your social media accounts friends and family.
There is no spa on the property but guests can arrange for an in-room treatment if they’d like. Adventurous types can use the hotel’s complimentary Trek mountain bikes to do a little exploring with or without a guide. In a place like Bhutan, you’ll most likely be out sightseeing most of the day, so their lack of amenities doesn’t ring as a negative to us.
One thing you can experience is a ride in the world's highest commercial hot air balloon flight during the spring and autumn months as to not disturb the rare black-neck cranes that winter there. Exclusive to the lodge, the ride slowly drifts over the area’s mountain pastures, traditional monasteries, the village of Phobjikha and stunning Himalayan peaks in the early mornings. Upon landing, guests are treated to a complimentary glass of schnapps or brandy.
At publication time, only 17 reviews have been posted on TripAdvisor, and all but one (who rated it 'very good') has given it excellent reviews. Guests have even specifically noted the superb service, which as any discerning traveler knows, is what truly makes a luxury hotel. One guest even declaring, “I would walk over hot coals to stay here again.” Sounds like pretty high praise to us! Set in the beautifully mystifying Kingdom of Bhutan and decorated with Bhutanese artwork and furnishings, this is just the kind of hotel you’d want to stay in to really get a sense of place during your visit.
Rates begin at USD $600 per night for singles and USD $650 for doubles, both include breakfast.