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“Better than Perfect”
Review of Howie's HomeStay

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Howie's HomeStay
Ranked #3 of 19 Hotels in Mae Rim
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed January 31, 2014

How often in life do you lean in for something great, and WHAMMO, it's ten times better than you ever imagined? That is Howie's Homestay. Everything you encounter during a magical stay there is better than what you possibly could have expected. I think Howie enjoys lulling people with the name "Homestay" in the title, and then wowing them with an experience beyond that of the nicest hotel. There's a reason Howie rhymes with Wowie.

Here's how I would describe it: take the design aesthetic of an Aman resort (but again, so much better because it's Bill Bensley), add architectural marvels and gorgeously curated antiques, situate it thoughtfully in a gardener's lush paradise, plant distant mountains in the view, then populate it with your favorite aunt and uncle. Then invite your family, and only your family, for a stay.

In contrast to one of the previous commenters, we found this to be an absolutely wonderful place for (respectful) kids. You can warn them that you're spoiling them for life, that no Four Seasons will ever match up to what they will experience, but by all means don't miss a stay at Howie's because you are traveling with children. You just have to see the way that Jerri and Howie deal with children, allowing them perfectly to be children while simultaneously holding them to a high standard of behavior AND making them feel loved and welcomed.

As all the commenters have remarked, Jerri's cooking is matched only by her world-class hospitality. While we parents winced at our children's culinary peculiarities, she smiled more and more, constantly rising to any challenge they threw out. Not only that, but she delighted in entertaining the children one afternoon with a Thai cooking class. We wished we had her patience and her grace.

And where to begin with Howie? As with everything there, Howie lures you in with the most self-effacing background story, and then the tapestry unfolds. I think we saw about one fortieth of it, assuring that we will come back to learn more. This is like the house, or the garden. Did architect and client come together because of this shared philosophy on living, that a house, a person, a garden should reveal themselves gradually and with great care? I'll let Howie do his own revealing to each of you lucky enough to make it to his Homestay. Suffice it to say that my wife and I would like him to be our adoptive uncle.

The one sentence I found myself saying to everyone I told about Howie's was this: everywhere your eye comes to rest, it finds another delight. From custom cast bird's mouths on the ends of the rainspouts, to a pair of antique blue lions (Howie's favorite color) guarding the kitchen, to perfectly placed Thai window carvings and finials, to the most beguiling water feature that my children could not stop playing with, there is something to make you smile in wonder at every turn. I honestly regret taking time away to go into Chiang Mai.

The one foray you have to make with Howie is to visit his favorite nearby roadside restaurant. Imagine a place with concrete walls and low slung roof, no front wall, an open stove out front and worn wooden benches at tables, a place you would never have dared to stop unless you knew what Howie knows. Now imagine a perfectly curated lunch there with Howie, as each family member tried something new and delicious. Why couldn't this have been our first stop in Thailand? And that is it, the summation: Howie is the most masterful guide to Thailand; you really ought to see him first and in so doing, awake to so many of the possibilities in this beautiful country.

  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled with family
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2  Thank Dallas_discern
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 27, 2014

Howie and Jerri provided the most memorable experience - truly one of a kind. Howie is such a warm interesting host, eager to do everything possible to make your stay just perfect. Jerri is such a warm lovely woman who went out of her way to meet all of our needs - she even taught me how to cook authentic thai food! We arrived at Howie's and were speechless. The accomodations and property are stunning!!! Upon arrival we realized we had not made any reservations for activities during our stay - lucky for us, Howie swooped in and saved the day, using his contacts to get us hooked up with the best of the best. One night Howie and Jerri took us into town for a great italian dinner with the locals. The next night they had a little dinner party at their house where we stood around the kitchen island cooking, drinking wine, and laughing - I couldnt have felt more at home. It was such a refreshing experience in the middle of an international adventure. I would recommend Howies to everyone and look forward to returning for a second visit!

  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Netanel13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 17, 2014

Howies is not a hotel, nor is it your typical homestay, far from it. Whatever it is, it's very very special.

Howies Homestay is about 30 minutes from the airport and Chiang Mai in Mae Rim and Howie will arrange airport pickups. You arrive into the courtyard off the dusty road and immediately you’re entranced by the tranquility and beauty of what is to be found within. Hand crafted paths of river pebbles invite you to the magnificent infinity pool which overlooks the mist filled hills of the Himalayan foothills. Everywhere you turn there are beautifully chosen pots and antiquities, pieces of individual furniture sitting in serene locations amongst the lush and architecturally designed gardens. We stayed for four days and every time we walked the same path we would notice something we'd not seen before.

Howies Homestay was designed and built for Howie and his wife Jerri by the extraordinary and world renowned architect Bill Bensley. Absolutely everything has been designed with an eye for detail and opulence. The lighting alone is amazing. I think Howie said the property has over 2000 lights, most of which you can't see, only the atmosphere they create.

This is Howie and Jerri's home and if you're truly someone who likes the anonymity of a hotel this may not be the place for you. We adored it. Howie and Jerri respect their guests privacy but equally want you to make their home your own. Staff hide away but always seem to be on hand when you need something. Nothing is too much trouble. Howie is a wonderful raconteur and interested in people so mealtime conversations were always relaxed and interesting and I can say we truly arrived as strangers and left as friends.

Jerri is an extraordinary cook. Nowhere in years of travelling through SE Asia have we tasted food like hers. The day would begin with freshly squeezed mandarin juice, oh so sweet and awakens the senses to all the other lovely choices on the breakfast table. Dinner is nothing short of a feast. My recommendation is that you don't eat too much during the day or you'll be disappointed if you can't try the myriad of dishes that keep arriving at dinner. If you don't like spicy food you won't get spicy food, in fact you won't get anything you don't like as she'll check with you beforehand.

During the day you can laze around the house and pool, walking through the gardens and the rice fields beyond or Howie as your concierge will arrange a guide and driver and orchestrate wonderful sightseeing. This might include elephant and raft riding, select local food restaurants you ordinarily might have walked past, markets and visits to magnificent temples where you will most likely be the only tourist which in this part of Thailand is unheard of.

We were there for New Year and Howie booked a lovely restaurant for us all in Chiang Mai centre so we could see in 2014 the way the Thai's do. He recce'd the route during the afternoon so he could park us just a few moments away. Detail and planning is his middle name. The streets were alive with people and fire crackers. At midnight the place went crazy but with Howie at our sides we felt totally safe plus we were in a perfect spot to watch thousands and thousands of lanterns rise into the night sky. The following evening Howie arranged for us to light our very own lanterns at their home so we could make our wishes for 2014. One of which was that we'd be back at Howies very soon.

Room Tip: The Teak Pavilion every time.
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  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled with family
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4  Thank maynris
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 13, 2013

The occasions in life are rare when the experience of something far exceeds the expectation. One of those occasions for us was "Howie's Homestay".

The alluring pictures on the website do not do justice to the magical and elegant setting of the beautiful home that Jerri and Howie have created.

We spent 5 fantastic days with them and from the moment we said "Sawadee krap" it was as if we were visiting old friends. Howie could not have done more to make us feel at home arranging tours, dinners, spa treatments, visits to the markets.

Jerri is a superb cook. She treated us to some traditional Thai delights everyday.

We have stayed in many large homes in other countries, this was our first trip to Thailand, we have now experienced the Thai hospitality and it is imprinted in our memory.

A big place in that impression is Howie's Homestay.

Richard and Ernesto

  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank NecoRocco
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 6, 2013

My first real post on Trip Advisor is for Howie and Jerri! Can’t say enough good things about this place and both Howie and Jerri. Spending a part of our honeymoon with them, couple that has been together 20 plus years, who enjoys life as much as we do was amazing. I wouldn't have changed anything, except maybe for the fact that I would do anything to take the smell of our bedroom home with us. Fresh flowers were everywhere, every little detail thought of. Howie bent over backwards to make sure we were taken care of and that we got to see and experience all Chiang Mai, and Bangkok, had to offer. I liked to think of it as staying in an AMAZING place with your favorite travel channel personality/guide – how can you beat that?

Highlights:
-Howie taking us to the BEST off the beaten path food vendors and restaurants
-Jerri’s Thai cooking (it was absolutely AMAZING)
-Fresh flowers and the incredible smell of the room every time we arrived back home
-Feeling well taken care of while still enjoying the privacy of the suite and it’s surrounding gardens
-Listening to Jazz as the sun went down in our room
-Howie’s sense of humor
-The fruit at breakfast!

  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank MegaF_12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 22, 2013

We first saw this property featured in Architectural Digest a few years ago and were really impressed, so when we discovered that we could actually stay there, we did. We can only concur with all the other 5 star reviews. This is an experience of superlatives topped off by wonderful hosts. Howie is a raconteur of note and Jerri's food is sublime. We wanted for absolutely nothing. Where ever you turn there is an array of incredible detail executed not only with precision but with absolute aesthetic brilliance. Vast collections of beautifully patinated antiques from all corners of SE Asia and beyond are surrounded by a tropical garden replete with magnificent flora including our Thai favourite, beautiful red lipstick palms. The vast jade coloured swimming pool drops off to a lanscape of legions of heliconias, a huge lotus pond and jungles interspersed with vignettes of archaeological objets collections and modern day whimsies that evoke absolute bliss and enchantment.

Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
1  Thank Amanvari
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 10, 2013

Howie and Jerri are incredible people...we felt at home after the first night. Food is incredible and our three children really enjoyed their time there. I will never stay at a hotel again in Chiangmai and I have already booked my next stay!! It's the perfect place for a family holiday as everything is in close proximity to one another - Monkey Centre, Crocodile Farm - and Howie helps you arrange everything. I give it a 10/10...thumbs up for sure!

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with family
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Thank josootang
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Howie's HomeStay

Address: 75/1 Moo 1, Ban Mai, Mae Ram, Mae Rim 50180, Thailand
Location: Thailand > Chiang Mai Province > Mae Rim
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#3 Luxury Hotel in Mae Rim
Price Range: $990 - $1,800 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Howie's HomeStay 5*
Number of rooms: 4
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Beautiful and unique Thai dream house in the Himalayan foothills outside Chiang Mai featured in Architectural Digest, now welcomes guests to the one bedroom Teak Pavilion. A singular accommodation with 8-meter teak ceilings, floor to ceiling windows that open onto tropical gardens plus outdoor bathroom with sunken bath can be yours. Total privacy, home cooked Thai dinners served by the palm-fringed pool, daily massages, car w/driver are all included. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Howie's HomeStay Chiang Mai Province, Thailand

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