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September 15, 2008

Bhutan: Taj Tashi Thimpu

Taj Tashi Thimpu
Taj's impressive facade, nestled
in Bhutan's forest.
 

Every May, Condé Nast Traveler releases its Hot List, a collection of the best new hotels, spas, restaurants, and nightspots. Check the Daily Traveler every day for a new post from this year's list.

This seven-story structure is a welcome addition to the emerging kingdom's small capital city. Offering an appealingly chic design, it also reflects traditional architecture, with its exterior walls painted a saffron hue with swirling dragons and Buddhism's eight sacred symbols. The 66 elegant rooms--the smallest of which measure 450 square feet--are a haven with high ceilings, dark-brown lacquered wood floors, walls mounted with mandalas, heated floors in bathrooms, and cushioned daybeds from which to gawk at the Himalayas. Early-morning risers may catch sight of the monk who chants prayers in the outdoor courtyard, also where traditional dancers perform most nights around the sunken fire pit. Mirrored walls affixed with an auspicious 108 Tibetan horns decorate the walls at the restaurant Chig Je Gye, where the impressive Bhutanese menu includes a milky river-weed soup and ema-datshi, the national dish of melted cheese with grated chilies. Rimps, the lobby-level tea lounge with dramatic carved walls rising another four stories, serves a tasty salted butter tea and offers a selection of authoritative reads on the region. Beneath the indoor pool is the aromatic Taj Spa.

Address: Chubachu, Thimpu, Bhutan
Tel: 975-2-33-66-99

When to go: Avoid July and August, when rains can cause landslides along Bhutan's snaky roads.
Which room to book: The most romantic are the two Duplex Suites; each has a spiral staircase that leads to a cozy attic bedroom, as well as jaw-dropping views from the sunlit bathroom.

Further reading:
* Taj Tashi Thimpu's Web site
* Hot List 2008
* View all DT Hot List posts

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