If you're yearning for a change of scenery and seeking to get away from the concrete jungle without undertaking a long drive, Khao Yai, a hillside area in Nakhon Ratchasima, delivers the respite you need. From breathtaking landscapes and lush greenery to a myriad of attractions and activities, the town is a worthy swap for Bangkok's glitz and glamour.
However, for city dwellers like myself who need a breath of fresh air without having to sacrifice a metropolitan feel, you can find the perfect blend of both worlds, just like I did on a recent trip to the newly-opened MYS Khao Yai.
Despite its hillside location, the hotel blends in with its serene surroundings through its soft neutral-toned structure. However, its brutalist architecture boldly creates a sharp yet captivating contrast, adding a touch of urban sophistication to the picturesque hillside landscape. Marvel Cinematic Universe enthusiasts may even experience a déjà vu as the hotel's awe-inspiring concrete-slab architecture echoes the iconic Tony Stark's mansion in Malibu from Iron Man 3.
The focal point, however, is a spectacular glass-bottomed pool that projects from the front of the hotel, giving swimmers a good view from above. As I arrived at noon, the lobby dazzled with a mesmerising rippled light effect cast by the water from the pool above, while the pebble-shaped stools beautifully complemented the scene, harmoniously adding a touch of warmth and further softening the stark appearance of the concrete architecture.
The bulk of the hotel is made up of two main low-rise buildings boasting 19 rooms and suites. Four pool villas and an under-construction three-bedroom villa are separated from the main buildings by a breathtaking lawn adorned with wispy ornamental grasses and shrubs along the garden landscape. When looking out from the backyard, the buildings are reminiscent of a geometric mountain, with guest rooms featuring sloping roofs layered upon one another, creating a captivating architectural composition.
While the shared balconies with coffee tables on each floor invite everyone to bask in nature, guests staying at Cosy Suites can enjoy an extra feature. They can seamlessly extend their suites to the outdoor space by opening their sliding doors, creating the feeling of having two balconies in one suite.
Checking into my 61² Deluxe felt like stepping into a cosy Scandinavian home. My living room/bedroom epitomises the essence of Scandinavian design, exuding a sense of simplicity and minimalism. The clean line furniture, complemented by an uncluttered layout that leans everything towards one side of the room, beautifully accentuated the spaciousness. The textiles and decor elements in a neutral colour palette of white, cream and soft grey create a down-to-earth ambience reminiscent of hygge. Sunlight streams through floor-to-ceiling windows, casting a warm glow upon the light-coloured wooden walls and furnishings in the room. Every understated element seems purposeful and thoughtfully chosen to enhance the overall aesthetic.
The design note, however, delves deeper into the concept, revealing that the actual theme of the room is a modern Scandinavian cottage. Mine and other accommodations share similar thoughtful details that bring the serenity of nature indoors, ensuring that guests feel a connection to the surrounding nature. Think of a butterfly light wall that adds a touch of whimsy, while a forest silhouette painted on the wall and the bathroom's glass door evoked the tranquillity of the deep wood. A clothes rail and drawer pulls cleverly replicate the organic form of a tree branch, blending functionality with the natural aesthetic.
What I love about my room is the balcony. While the balconies in other hotels and resorts are wide open for all to see, mine offers a more private setting tucked away in a nook between other neighbouring accommodations. It's my little slice of paradise where I can enjoy my me-time without anyone watching.
The hotel offers a range of in-room experiences, all conveniently accessible through a tablet. No gym? No problem! At your fingertips, you can request an in-room gym set to maintain your fitness routine. The set includes kettlebells, dumbbells and TRX training ropes, all neatly packed inside a bench, and it takes about 15 minutes to set up. A pillow menu is also featured on the tablet for guests to personalise their sleep experience.
Also on-site is Cha La Restaurant and Bar, helmed by chef Munin "Tawan" Thitichairat. Presented with the "craft dining" concept, the all-day dining restaurant serves dishes like Hokkaido scallop with sweet corn velouté, wagyu beef wellington and grilled rainbow trout, with a focus on locally-sourced ingredients.
You know you're in good hands when a hotel breakfast offers a bottle of vodka and Champagne next to the juice section. Whether you're trying to recover from a wild night or just want to add a little extra sparkle to your morning, why settle for just bacon and eggs when you can have mimosa and bloody Mary to kickstart your day.
After dining, a visit to the bar, which doubles as a cigar lounge, is in order. Classic cocktails are at the forefront of the drinks list here, and you can't go wrong with the signature menu that draws inspiration from the wanderlust of a nature-inspired journey. My favourite was a Hazelnut marshmallow, which reminded me of a campfire's favourite s'more — exactly the drink you want to enjoy while cosying up on the refreshing breeze by the hillside.
Located in the heart of Khao Yai's main tourist area on Thanarath Road, the hotel offers convenient access to nearby hotspots within a short ride. Think of Hokkaido Flower Park Khaoyai for a Japanese-themed flowery garden, 505 Kow Hom Potchana Kitchen for one of the best phad krapao in town and Fairy's Scone House for homemade pastries. Or you can simply check out your in-room tablet for recommended restaurants and cafes.
Though the hotel is by the hillside, it doesn't make you feel that you are cut off from civilisation, thanks to its architectural design that blends the sense of urban touch with the tranquillity of the hillside town. With its intimate setting as an adults-only hotel, where room counts are under 30, MYS Khao Yai makes a perfect love nest for couples seeking a stress-free romantic getaway. Not to mention, you can book a cocktail workshop to craft your love potions, whether in the comfort of your room or at the hotel bar. Guests booking their stays by June 30 can enjoy a complimentary cocktail workshop featuring a rainbow cocktail as a sweet gesture from the hotel in celebration of Pride Month. Visit hotelmys.com.