Zhiwa Ling's ornate cottages are decorated in traditional style.
Nestled in the hills outside Paro, Zhiwa Ling is an architectural gem that unites Bhutanese culture and heritage with 21st-century comforts. Its main lodge and cottages—each hand-decorated with intricate carvings—are set in a lush landscape of weeping willows and fruit trees. This is the first five-star Bhutanese-owned hotel, and its 45 beautifully appointed suites look out over the emerald foothills of the Himalaya.
In the spirit of Bhutan’s Buddhist tradition, guests can join monks at the Meditation House, soak up the tranquility of the Tea House, and enjoy a unique selection of spa treatments imbued with spiritual symbolism. The town of Paro and its magnificent dzong (or fortress) are a short distance from here, and the iconic cliff-hanging Tiger’s Nest monastery is within view. A variety of nearby hiking trails lead to age-old monasteries and typical villages, and an hour’s drive through stunning scenery will have you peering at peaks and prayer flags from spectacular mountain passes like Cheli La.
Zhiwa Ling is a work of art, painstakingly constructed, carved, and painted by Bhutanese artisans over five years. It is not an old hotel—it first opened its doors in 2005 and is equipped with all the modern amenities you’d expect—yet the stunning architecture conveys an atmosphere of timeless tradition that fits right into Bhutan’s cultural landscape. The hotel’s temple exemplifies this emphasis on the authentic: it was built using 450-year-old wood from the original Gangtey Goemba monastery, one of Bhutan’s most cherished sites.
Many of us have heard of the country’s unique notion of Gross National Happiness, but the management at Zhiwa Ling has actually worked it into their business plan, making it a priority to inspire and empower their mostly Bhutanese staff. The result is top-of-the-line customer service and a well-trained, motivated, and friendly staff.
When you reserve your space through National Geographic Unique Lodges, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in some of Bhutan’s most colorful and revered traditions. Join in the baking of ritual cakes made from flour and butter and painted with natural mineral pigments to depict deities. Plus, experience a drum ceremony with Buddhist nuns and a butter lamp offering with local monks.
Zhiwa Ling was built to carefully reflect the country's architectural vernacular: the design and interior meticulously embrace Bhutanese culture, using artwork, textiles, and sustainable wood construction. A pioneer in environmental sustainability in Bhutan, Zhiwa Ling has also initiated its own composting, wastewater management, and recycling programs, with regular monitoring of energy and water use, setting an example for the rest of the country. The lodge supplies nearly all of its produce and flowers from its own gardens and greenhouses.
The lodge staff, almost all Bhutanese, lead numerous community projects, including cleanup campaigns, tree plantings, yoga classes, and a variety of trainings.
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