Hotel of the Week: Six Senses Bhutan

A network of intimate, top-notch lodges promises an alluring mix of luxury and adventure in the remote Himalayan kingdom.

Poolside dining at Six Senses Punakha. (Photo: Frédéric Lagrange/Six Senses)

Why You Should Go

Six Senses’ eco-chic flair — and its focus on wellness — will take a bucket-list trip to Bhutan to the next level. Mirroring the approach taken by Aman and COMO, Six Senses Bhutan is not one single property but a circuit of five luxury lodges in the country’s western and central valleys. The biggest of these overlooks Thimphu, the Bhutanese capital, with 20 suites and five villas amid apple orchards and stands of pine; an expansive terrace outside the main building is centered on a sunken firepit surrounded by a reflecting pond. A two-hour drive to the east via the Dochula Pass, Six Senses Punakha is billed as a “flying farmhouse” with a lounge that cantilevers out over its infinity pool; at the brand’s outpost in the village of Gangtey (another two hours-plus away by car), a central lounge and dining room occupies a bridge-like pavilion where guests can observe the rare black-necked cranes that winter in the Phobjikha Valley below. The newest and most remote of the five, Six Senses Bumthang comprises just eight suites and a two-bedroom villa within a pine forest in the spiritual heartland of the country. Before flying out, guests will likely bed down at Six Senses Paro, thanks to its proximity to both the international airport and the trailhead for the cliff-hugging Tiger’s Nest monastery.

Six Senses Thimphu’s Prayer Pavilion and reflecting pond. (Photo: Journal of a Jetsetter/Six Senses)

The living room of a suite at Six Senses Thimphu. (Photo: Kiattipong Panchee/Six Senses)

Suites at Six Senses Gangtey feature a freestanding tub. (Photo: Frédéric Lagrange/Six Senses)

Inside a two-bedroom villa at Six Senses Gangtey. (Photo: Frédéric Lagrange/Six Senses)

The Rooms

Warm, cozy interiors with a minimalist, rustic-chic appeal are a given across the five individual lodges. Large timber-framed windows flood the rooms in natural light, while subtle references to traditional Bhutanese style are expressed in the wood-burning bukhari stoves, handwoven rugs colored with vegetable dyes, and architectural details. Except for those at Six Senses Paro (whose rooms start at 60 square meters), all suites feature private outdoor decks with a sitting area; some, like the guest quarters at Gangtey, come with daybeds. Indoors, five-star creature comforts include oversize bathtubs, Naturalmat organic beds, Nespresso machines, and Bose Bluetooth speakers. Rooms at Thimphu, Paro, and Punakha also have a 43-inch TV with cable channels — not that anyone wishing to disconnect from the wider world would really need it.

A Bhutanese thali set lunch at Six Senses Thimphu. (Photo: Frédéric Lagrange/Six Senses)

Tongtshang, the restaurant at Six Senses Bumthang. (Photo: Frédéric Lagrange/Six Senses)

Six Senses Paro’s main building and the ruins of a dzong. (Photo: Frédéric Lagrange/Six Senses)

The pool at Six Senses Paro’s spa. (Photo: Frédéric Lagrange/Six Senses)

Things You Can Do

Wellness is a strong point at any Six Senses property, and those in Bhutan are no different. Available options run the gamut from shirodhara and deep-tissue massages to locally inspired treatments such as a body scrub using Bhutanese herbs. Spa enthusiasts should not miss a traditional hot-stone bath at Thimphu and Swedana herbal steam therapy with valley views at Gangtey. Each lodge also offers a suit of special experiences. For example, Six Senses Punakha can arrange riverside cocktails in view of the area’s landmark 17th-century dzong (monastery-fortress) or a hands-on workshop for making the local liquor, ara. A must-do at Six Senses Paro is the “feudal ruins” dinner, a private experience enjoyed with cultural performances against the backdrop of the ruined 15th-century dzong next door.

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