The Six Senses Thimphu property is yet another new 5-star luxury hotel that has just opened up in Bhutan. After visiting the Punakha property and being blown away by the property I was thinking that Thimphu had a lot to live up to but wow….they did it!
The palace in the sky is the theme that they have picked for this hotel. The name chosen of course because this is the capital of Bhutan and this is the location of the King’s palace.
The idea was to provide the feeling that the hotel was floating in the sky with clouds all around. The hotel has nailed it just like the other two properties that I’ve visited in Bhutan.
I am putting the photo gallery here but please keep on reading my review below!
Arrival and the Living Room
The drive up to Six Senses Thimphu is on a reasonably good surfaced road with only a couple of rough spots at the start. As you climb higher out of the residential area you drive through some apple orchards eventually reaching the top of a small hill. We noticed a few people on bicycles going around here and we think these were guests of the hotel.
Parking the car, we sort of wandered about trying to find the actual entrance. The entrance here in Thimphu is similar to the entrances in the other Six Senses properties they tend to look like a huge fortress that suggest that maybe you shouldn’t be wandering into without some escort.
As soon as we opened the door, we see a telescope and a jaw-dropping view of Buddha Point through the massive windows on the opposite side of the arrival room.
Like the other properties of Six Senses we entered into the living room took a seat waiting for the arranged host to show us around the property. This time we are offered a refreshing juice drink while the hosts introduce themselves.
Our host explains the theme of the hotel and tells me that the reason for the reflecting pools is to give the illusion of the floating palace. When the winds are calm it is easy to spot this floating effect and be really drawn into the theme. The pool of water will easily reflect the clouds in the sky during the daytime and with a minimal amount of light pollution at this location you would see stars if you look up or down.
When the wind is blowing the ripples on the reflecting pool give you the impression that you are floating down some river on a boat or perhaps the illusion that you are sitting still on the side of a river where the water is rushing by.
The hotel was designed to be like a dzong. To achieve this effect, the walls should be high and the windows should be quite tall but narrow. Usually in the dzong when we do manage to peek out through the windows you can see more handmade walls because you are always in a corner. Viewing more walls through the window however in this hotel is not like a dzong, the view is almost always of Buddha Point and the Thimphu valley.
Our tour started with a small peek into the dining room. Looking up at the ceiling the designers have done a great job at making you Feel like you are in the clouds with the wavy hanging wood. They told me that all of the wood for the hotel was produced on site. I will be returning here to the dining area towards the end of the tour so I will defer the food until that time.
Moving outside into the “deck”. We find that you step down into the seating area. The reflection pools essentially become eye level when you are seated. This gives a great view of the buildings and with water completely surrounding you it feels like you are in the middle of a huge lake requiring a boat to reach the hotel which also appears to be in the lake.
The outdoor patio area could be used for a small cultural show and they have a few fireplaces where the guests could simply enjoy being outside even if it was cold.
A prayer pavilion is reached by crossing a small bridge over the water. This is a place where guests could meditate with a head on view of Bhudda Point directly in front of them.
Like the other properties of six senses in Bhutan, they have some electric golf carts that could be used to transport guests to their rooms but we, like most of the guests, elected to walk.
Pool and Spa
The first stop along the outside tour is a bit unfortunate, it the rather large swimming pool. The host showed me a photo taken from the pool looking towards Buddha Point and I wish that I could have obtained a copy of this…you’ll have to look online because the pool was drained this particular day because they had converted the pool into a huge dining room for some event. I was told it would be 3 days before the pool was filled again.
The next stop on our tour was a dzong like building complete with a bridge crossing a rushing river (okay, the river was actually just a man made stream but the sound effect was perfect. On the other side of the small bridge was the hotel spa.
Just like the Six Senses properties that I visited, the spa here is just as spectacular looking given that I’m not really a spa type of person. Just like in the other properties, the reception area is relaxing place where you get a chance to read through the services and select various herbs to construct personalized treatment program. Guests can use the gym and sauna at no charge along with the yoga room. Every room except for the relaxation room has the stunning view of Buddha Point.
One room that I saw in Thimphu was the “Wellness Room” where they have some equipment that can be used to measure your body and where the onsite medical person can provide some consultation about how different treatment could benefit you. The medical person was not onsite when I was visiting.
Like other properties in Bhutan, the pool, the yoga room, and the gym are free of cost. If you want to make use of any spa treatment, then you need to pay some extra fees.
Leaving the spa area, we head up towards the rooms. All of the buildings here on this site are spread out quite far because they are trying to give everybody the great view of the Thimphu Valley. Along the way we pass a small pond which is the starting point for the small river flowing down near the spa. The water is collected at the lower end of the property and pumped back up towards the back part of the property so it can flow down. This artificial river is really the only disappointing part of the property, it would have been so much cooler if I could have reported that the stream was completely natural or even diverted somewhere high above the hotel; but sometimes you just don’t get the river where you want it!
Near the stream was a new building being constructed that was not yet finished. I was told that this would eventually become a Bhutanese Tea House where guests could stop in. There was also an open area where guests could try out some archery or khudu (darts).
We have finally reached the rooms. We are first taken into the one-bedroom villa. All of the villas in the property are designed in the form of a traditional Bhutanese house with a walled compound. Normally when you visit a hotel with different classes of rooms it is easy afterwards to tell the class of room that you are in but I’ll be completely honest, I can’t really see much difference in the amenities of the rooms. The larger one-, two-, and three- bedroom villas are massive with large living spaces but even the normal lodge suites are finished just as nice.
Entering the walled area of the villa we find a small court yard but I didn’t take a photo because the garden was sort of not nice as it was just started and I was told that they were waiting for all of the construction to be finished before they finalized the garden.
As soon as you enter the villa you get the same view as every other building which is the view of the mountain directly in front of you. Walking into the small entry area where you could leave your shoes you have the option of turning to the right into the bedroom area or go all the way to the front and turn left into the dinning and living area.
The bedroom is separated with huge sliding doors so that the guests can either opt for privacy or open concept and is the same at the other end of the bedroom area where the bathing area is located.
The photos that I took show a single king-sized bed and a small day bed near the window. The king-sized bed can be converted into a pair of twins and the day bed can be turned into a sleeping place if necessary. Although the official capacity for the one bedroom villa is 3 people I think we could probably arrange, and easily accommodate, 2 adults and two children but a large family would need to move into the two- or three- bedroom units instead.
The bedding is the same types of materials as I found in the Punakha property where they had picked materials so that washing could be done with less water. The Six Senses hotels also have a program called “Sleep with Six Senses” where a specialist can set up the bedding to best match your needs. The program is complex enough that I can’t really cover it here but a Google search will give you the details.
The bathing area contains the standard type of amenities such as robes and slippers and a huge bathtub near the large window should you wish to see the town of Thimphu while soaking. There is no chance in this property of somebody being able to peek in at you while you are in the tub but there is a set of wooden blinds that could be closed up.
In the other end of the villa is a huge living room with a pair of sofas, a wood stove and a dining table. I have stayed in many hotels where the entire room was a fraction of the size of just the living room here. There is a small pantry with its own entry where the ‘guest enhancement manager’ could enter to bring your food if you wish to eat in your villa rather than in the main dining hall. Each of the villas have a similar back entrance so that the guests’ privacy can be maintained.
Moving from the 1-bedroom villa we stopped into the 3-bedroom villa. I was told that it was nearly the same as the 2-bedroom with the exception of the 3rd bedroom. The living area is absolutely massive and could handle all of the guests and perhaps even more if you have friends travelling and staying in the other rooms types. The dining room table, the wood stove and the living area is simply large scale.
The two main bedrooms in the 3-bedroom villa look nearly the same as the 1-bedroom. In fact I can only tell the photos apart because of the timestamps on the pictures. However moving into the 3rd bedroom of this unit yields the only disappointing room in the entire property. The room was really designed as a room for the children and it is sort of dark and without view. The room itself is fine with the same décor it is just that the window faces the forest. If you are travelling as a group of 3 couples, I wouldn’t recommend using this villa but instead take the 1- and 2- bedroom villas instead.
Hiking up the hill a bit further we come to one of the lodge suites; the standard room in the hotel. Even though this may be the “lowest” class of room it doesn’t disappoint; check my photo of the view that you get when you enter the room! The size of the lodge suite it less than that of the villas but the type of amenities you get here is just the same.
While I didn’t get photos of the “mini bar” in the other rooms, I did manage to get one here because the lighting was quite a bit better. Take a peek at the photo and look for something that you won’t find! You will not see any plastic containers, everything is glass or wood. The property is filtering their own water and supplying in glass bottles to the room. Even the snacks are not your standard chocolate bars or chips, they are snacks prepared in the kitchen at the property.
I was told that the property is attempting to become plastic free by 2023. We are not even talking about just plastic bottles, we are talking completely free of all plastic. This is a tall order and it would be interesting to see the result. Think about this.. you are likely reading this review on a laptop and the laptop likely has plastic keys or a plastic track pad… I think they will not be able to remove all plastic because there are many things inside of object that are plastic but they are aiming to not allow for any human contact with plastic.
The tour was finished and just like my visit to Six Senses Punakha, I was disappointed that I was just a temporary visitor to the property. Lucky for me, I was invited to sit with the hosts for lunch and since I didn’t have the chance to experience the food at the other properties I jumped at the chance.
The food at the property is included in the hotel price so don’t feel shy about picking something that might seem expensive. The menu changes each season based on what is available and I can say quite certainly that the food they are sourcing is much better quality than what is available in the town.
The menu title was “Namkha Zaygo” which means “Food in the sky”. The menu contained starters, mains, casual, and regional. The food selection was a mixture of local Bhutanese cuisine, Indian cuisine, and International Dishes. I apologize for the fuzzy photo of the menu, I guess I didn’t let the camera focus before clicking the picture… even a fuzzy picture was better than nothing however.
I honestly couldn’t decide what to pick from the menu and in the end selected the Momo Platter and the Cordycep Infused Chicken. My brother-in-law wanted to try the Cheeseburger. While we were waiting for the food, my brother-in-law said he felt sort of silly for asking for a cheeseburger at a fine-dining establishment. The host said that it would probably be the healthiest cheeseburger that he would ever eat because everything would be made fresh. The hotel knows that sometimes people just want certain foods and they have made it available but of course it needs to be prepared in a good way but still retaining the flavors.
I eat a lot of momos at home and the beef, pork, and chicken momos were just as I expected. The one surprise was a red momo which turned out to be beetroot…shockingly different and yet still delicious. The mains arrived and it was by far the best chicken that I have ever tasted in Bhutan. I did sample a small piece of cheesecake as part of the dessert along with some tea.
Now comes the difficult part of trying to compare my experience here with my experience at fine dining establishments. The best tasting food that I’ve ever had was surprisingly on an Austrian Airlines flight where they keep an actual chef on the flight and the food quality here was just as good. The only thing that I didn’t like was the cheesecake because it felt as though the cake had been frozen and thawed so there was a bit of ice crystal in it. The taste was absolutely spot on but of course cheesecake should be smooth and creamy, not like ice cream that got left in the car and then refrozen. The only other negative part of the dining experience was the paper notepad that the waitress took my order on; any fine dining place that I’ve attended put the order into their head. The food itself however was so far beyond expectation that a couple of small things couldn’t turn me off of this place.
After finishing our dinner and discussing details about the services provided to the guest we got into the car and headed out. Just like the Punakha property, I’m very anxious to send guests to this hotel so they can experience the amazing hospitality of this property.
I am still looking to find the time to finish the review of the Paro property but we have a package already created using only Six Senses hotels if you are interested in visiting Bhutan and staying in the absolute best property available this is the right place!