The latest rage in travel is private homes-turned-hotels. No, not Airbnb — we’ll save that debate for another post. This a whole other caliber: fully-vetted exquisite private homes that give you the run of the place along with top-notch hotel style services. One of the best is Howie’s HomeStay, in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Our pal Laura Grier of Beautiful Day Photography and Wanderlust by Laura Grier recently stayed there, and sent us these gorgeous images and some thoughts on the experience.
“Recently, I went on a wild 5-week world tour photographing two weddings, two engagement shoots and two National Geographic/NOVICA catalog shoots. During this epic adventure, I stayed for 5 days in Chiang Mai, Thailand. While there, I had the fortunate opportunity to stay in one of THE MOST breathtaking private estates that I’ve ever laid eyes on! Howie’s HomeStay is a majestic boutique hotel that guarantees a secluded stay in an unbelievable setting, adorned with lush tropical gardens, views of the Himalayan foothills, a huge infinity-edge swimming pool and tranquil water features. It was a photographer’s playground to say the very least — and one of the most relaxing hotels I’ve ever been to,” she says.
Howie’s Homestay is owned by Howard (originally from Boston) and his wife Jerri (originally from Bangkok). They’ve lived in Chiang Mai for 20 years, and hired Bill Bensley to create the estate. An American living in Thailand, Bill has been named one of the Top 100 Architects in the World by Architectural Digest. Take this pool, which looks different from every angle — it’s a work of art unto itself!
The estate is filled with an eclectic array of antiques, artwork and furnishings that ring true to the destination. There is nothing cookie-cutter about it — it’s unlike any hotel you’ve ever seen.
Your stay at Howie’s includes four guestrooms; all meals, laundry service, maid service and airport transfers; and free Wifi. You’re just down the road from the Four Seasons Chiang Mai, and close to temples, forests and the city of Chiang Mai.
Here are Laura’s other must-do’s in Chiang Mai:
“Lounge with tigers at the famous Tiger Kingdom. Hang out with tigers and enjoy a sumptuous lunch.”
“Watch for monks at Tha Phae Gate. Witness as they go to collect their daily offerings.”
“Ride elephants! Be amazed at their size and beauty as you see Thailand from a whole new perspective.”
“Visit the gorgeous temples in the area, including Wat Suan Dokt. Be amazed by the beauty and history of such a cultural icon.”
“Visit the long-neck Karen Tribe in Northern Thailand near the border of Burma. Transport yourself into their world for a day to see how they live and weave their famous scarves.”