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Probably the best-preserved great Buddhist kingdom with a fiercely guarded culture and spiritual heritage, Bhutan is not a destination for a fleeting visit or a last-minute budget break.

5 Star Bhutan Le Méridien Paro vs Le Méridien Thimphu

For us, this adventure to the nation of temples and fortresses on the edge of the Himalayas had been in the planning for years, so we wanted to make sure we did it right!

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While it is possible to spend as little as US$250 per night for an all-inclusive trip to Bhutan, we wanted to combine our cultural adventure with luxury accommodation, so we opted to stay with Le Meridien Paro, Riverfront and Le Meridien Thimphu, two of the best luxury hotels in Bhutan.

Location

Le Méridien Paro, Riverfront

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Only a few minute’s drives from Paro International Airport, yet with a feeling of quiet remoteness, the riverside position gives amazing views from any angle. Waking up to see hills and rushing water from the window makes you feel immersed in the natural landscape.

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Looking at the building from the outside, the scale of the building and the traditional design of timber and stone create a subtle sense of grandeur, while still feeling at home amongst the rocky landscape surrounding it.

Whether relaxing in your room, swimming in the indoor pool or enjoying dinner, panoramic views of the rocky landscape surround you, so you always feel connected to nature outside.

This was the perfect location from which to visit the Tiger’s Nest temple and the National Museum of Bhutan.

Le Méridien Thimphu

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If Le Meridien Paro offers a connection to the outside, Le Meridien Thimphu feels like a haven from it, a shield against the noise and bustle of the city centre.  Located in the heart of the growing capital city, all of the important attractions are close by including the National Memorial Chhorten and the Clock Tower Square.

5 Star Bhutan Le Méridien Paro vs Le Méridien Thimphu

Like all buildings in Bhutan, Le Meridian respects and reflects the historical style, with its natural stone cladding overhanging eaves and carved wooden window dressings. However, it stands out as a step forward, blending modern features like clean lines, large windows and open spaces with the traditional styling of Bhutanese architecture.

From here we were able to explore the enchanting lowland valleys of Punakha, only a 2 to 3-hour drive away.

The Accommodation

Le Méridien Paro, Riverfront

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When we landed in Paro it was only a quick drive to the hotel, which we found to be much like Bhutan itself – modern and progressive, yet deeply engraved with nature, culture, and tradition.

We were lucky enough to get upgraded to a corner suite, with its own open plan living room and bedroom, offering panoramic views on to the natural grounds and the river outside. The design and decor were crisp, stylish and modern, with natural materials like wood and stone accenting the sharp, black walls and elegant furnishings.

The bathroom was particularly special, with a giant window framing the freestanding bathtub, letting us relax with views of nature.

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As always, the king-size bed was Kach’s favorite feature of the entire hotel, with luxurious cotton bedding and a view across the river.

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The pool and spa on the ground floor featured an indoor heated swimming pool, sauna and steam room, along with a full gym for anyone who hadn’t hiked enough through the day!

Le Méridien, Thimphu

When we arrived in the capital city and checked into Le Meridien Thimphu we could instantly see the difference between here and the sister hotel in Paro. The difference between the two hotels reflected perfectly the differences between the two environments. Le Meridien Thimphu was a sharp and cosmopolitan hive of activity within the city, whereas Paro was much more of a nature retreat, or a luxury countryside lodge.

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Once again we found that we had been upgraded to a suite with an expansive living room, widescreen television and a view overlooking the city. The separate king size bedroom held an equal king size bed and another widescreen television.

The bathroom was spectacularly clad in marble from floor to ceiling, with a full bath and separate rainforest shower.

Down on the lower floors were the fitness centre, spa and sauna, and a good size indoor swimming pool.

The Restaurants

Le Méridien Paro, Riverfront

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Food is always a central part of our travels and whether we eat in the hotel or out on the streets, we always try to taste as much local cuisine as we can and try things that we might not find anywhere else.

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The in-house restaurant, Latest Recipe, featured an open central kitchen around which a carefully chosen selection of international foods was presented. While there were many choices, the focus was definitely built around Local Bhutanese and East Indian cuisines. The chefs were not just on display, but happy to talk about the food, the ingredients and even to “modify” certain hot dishes to make them a little cooler for less hardened palates. The chef and most of his team were from India and when he leaned Kach was from the Philippines, he even made us a special version of chicken adobo!

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The views across the river and the mountains created a beautiful backdrop.

Le Méridien, Thimphu

Just like Le Meridien Paro Riverfront, Le Meridien Thimphu offers and international fusion buffet and a-la-carte in their Latest Recipe restaurant.

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However, our very special experience here in Thimphu was in the fine dining Asian restaurant, Sese Shamu. The Executive Chef joined us for a specially prepared 6-course menu of unique Bhutanese and Indian dishes.

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Something that we learned about Bhutanese food is that each dish usually consists of as little as two or three ingredients and flavors that complement each other perfectly. I was the perfect way to wrap up our last day in Bhutan, all accompanied by local peach wine!

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