Together with its slightly more mature in years sibling, Hillside 3, and likewise owned by noted local real estate and land development company, V Group, Hillside 4 is constructed on a scale that, even today, dwarfs most other condominiums. With a complement of approximately 700 residential and commercial units within the single building, the condo ranks as the largest of its kind in all Chiang Mai. Around two decades old it may be but Hillside 4 –or to give it its formal designation, Hillside Plaza & Condotel 4- still remains one of the most popular condo complexes in the whole of the city. What it lacks in youth, though, it more than makes up for in its geographic position; situated right on Huay Kaew Road, one of the city’s major thoroughfares, Hillside 4 is nestled opportunely between Nimman, Chiang Mai’s latest playground and the ‘Old City’, the historic heart of the municipality.
Flanking Hillside 4 and unveiled only last month is the open-air evening flea market, ‘Nimman Night’; occupying almost as much land as the condo itself and comprising dozens of covered stalls complete with rustic hay bales for sitting, vendors peddle their assorted wares (food, drink, clothing, household plants, handicrafts and other knick-knacks) until 10PM every night. On the opposing side of Hillside 4 lies a small soi [lane or side street] which leads to the aircraft hangar sized Su Khon Tha Mu Katha (more often written as Sukontha Mookata), the quintessential Thai barbeque buffet experience in Chiang Mai; open Monday to Sunday from 5PM to midnight and costing only a smidge over 200 baht for an all-you-can-feast accompanied by live music, diners can choose from an almost mind-numbing selection of fresh seafood and shellfish, meats and raw vegetables as well as scores of prepared dishes, Thai salads, fruit plates, dipping sauces and even desserts and non-alcoholic beverages. Reachable in less than five minutes on foot from the condo is the futuristic-looking Maya Lifestyle Shopping Centre and, across from which, fashionable Nimmanhaemin Road with its mix of trendy bars, eateries, cafés and boutique retail concerns. En route to the ‘Old City’ and barely a 10 minute stroll from Hillside 4 is the supremely utilitarian Kad Suan Kaew, one of Chiang Mai’s very first malls and, to this day, still ever-bustling especially with Thai folk; home to several hundred shops and restaurants, the mall also anchors a Central department store, branches of Tops Market and IT City, two main food courts, a gym, bowling alley and private karaoke cubicles as well as a seven-screen multiplex cinema (though very few films are now presented in English) and, thrice weekly, a delightful night market (Kad Sum Murd) with pop-up stands hawking an array of hearty local fare in addition to cut-price clothing. Onward, a further five minute walk, from the mall is Chiang Mai Ram Hospital and long regarded as the preeminent –if the most expensive- medical hub in the city.
Perhaps somewhat surprisingly for such an aged condo, on-site amenities and leisure facilities at Hillside 4 are decent and adequately maintained. Although many of the 137 business units incorporated within the building stand dusty and deserted, some of those in the plaza on the second floor in particular are not only operational but, given the obvious convenience, attract a regular footfall of residents and visitors alike. Just inside the condo lobby, the friendly ‘Home Café’ serves Thai, Korean and international food along with a medley of bakery items, and even offers an in-room delivery service six days a week; beyond which is the privately-run, excellently-equipped and sizeable ‘Gold Hillside Gym’ with competitive rates of 70 baht for a day’s visit or 1000 baht per month to upwards of 6500 baht for an annual membership; more or less facing the fitness studio are a Thai massage parlour and the ‘White House’ minimart while, farther down, a themed Japanese restaurant, ‘Akamon’, and a laundry room housing coin-operated, self-service washing machines and tumble driers as well as a water-vending dispenser. Organised by Nana Bakery on every Thursday from mid-afternoon to early evening, condo residents can enjoy a range of freshly baked artisan breads, pastries, organic juices and dairy produce at the weekly Farmers’ Market held in one of the Function Rooms at the rear of the building. Featuring prominently on floor three is the joint ‘Siam Spa’ and ‘Ampai Institute of Beauty’ whereas the fourth floor boasts the first of the condo’s two outdoor communal swimming pools (the second is located on the rooftop of Hillside 4 but accessible only to residents who live on the top three floors).
Leading down from the main entrance of Hillside 4 is an underground parking lot though limited only to about 70 vehicles with separate bays for cars, scooters and larger motorbikes. Despite the rather inconspicuous presence of security guards on the basement level, CCTV cameras are mounted in all shared areas of the property; for added peace of mind, doors are outfitted with digital, keycard-controlled locks and, on the second floor adjoining the stairwell and double lift (elevator), the reception desk is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Building-wide WiFi is available but is reputedly sluggish and unreliable, and at 200 baht a day or 700 baht a month without restrictions, residents are best arranging private home broadband independently through either of the nominated Internet Service Providers, 3BB and Sinet (VAT-inclusive prices for which start from 632 and 641 baht, respectively).
Built initially with 587 residential units, the vast majority of which are now privately-owned condos (some of which have since been amalgamated to form larger units) with 50 or thereabouts of the original –now dated- units still operated, to all intents and purposes, as hotel rooms. At 15 storeys, Hillside 4 accommodates largely studio units of 45 or 46 sq m (so a good 14 or 15 sq m larger than the average sized condo in Chiang Mai) along with 1, 2 and 3 bedroom units (and corresponding number of bathrooms) varying from roughly 70 up to 200 sq m or more of liveable space. The many renovated units come fully furnished and air-conditioned throughout with the extent and standard of interior appointment, variety of home appliances as well as the design and style of décor very much subject to the whims of the individual owner. With one or more private circular-shaped balconies, those units facing due west benefit from a panoramic vista of the nearby mountain peaks of Doi Suthep and Doi Pui while those oriented east command far-reaching views over the city.
With relatively few Thais in residence, Hillside 4 has become something of a melting pot of foreign nationals; specifically, long-term expats from the United States, Europe, Australia, Japan and China.
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