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Why visit … I’ve always wanted to live in a home with a built in spa. Relax, unwind, then wander upstairs to sleep. Repeat. Since this was a little ambitious, even for me, I visited Amankora Thimphu a simple and elegant retreat set in a blue pine forest in the upper Thimphu Valley of Bhutan.

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Combining aman, the Sanskrit-derived word for ‘peace’, and kora or ‘circular pilgrimage’ in the Bhutanese language Dzongkha, the five Amankora lodges are homages to the natural beauty of Bhutan.

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The Thimphu outpost with its soaring stone-washed buildings and wood-panelled corridors scented with cedarwood make for an idyllic escape, especially as the spa treatment rooms are set just below the suites, so not too far to wander.

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Why not...try Amankora Thimphu’s signature hot oil head massage. Based on the ancient healing system of Ayurveda, the head oil massage incorporates warm coconut oil, Bumthang valley honey and herbs sourced from the local area. Prepare to have your neck and shoulders thoroughly soothed and your head emptied. Drift to the sauna afterwards to help the oils sink in.


Take five … and head to the library for tea by the wood heated bukhari, or wander along the stream in the pine forest. Amankora Thimphu is in close proximity to the Royal Palace, so be sure to be on your best behaviour.

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Take home … cedarwood, used as temple incense, it is employed in Bhutanese traditional therapies for easing skin conditions and as a relaxant.


Go greenAmankora’s lodges recycle and donate organic materials to local farmers. Where possible, the lodges are fuelled by hydroelectricity and waste water is processed for reuse. There’s also a reforestation programme in place.