The Mekong Riverview’s owner, Urban Paulsson, understands the kinds of amenities, services and information guests want, and he and his great team deliver.
The beds are a dream, Swedish-made with a remote control to tilt up for reading or raise your knees for a back pain free sleep. There is lots of natural light (and shutters to keep it out). Rooms are well-lit. The mini-bar has complimentary drinks, replenished daily. Sitting areas have real books. The wifi is fast. TVs have a huge range of channels. The safe is so large you don’t have to unpack your valuables. The toilet is in a separate room from the shower and tub. Towels are extra fluffy. Guests receive an annotated map with shopping, restaurant and spa recommendations, and can borrow bikes to check them all out. There’s coffee, tea and cake in the lobby if you need a snack. You’ll be invited to meet other guests over a glass of wine. And best of all, staff are charming and service-oriented.
The Mekong Riverview actually has a view of two rivers, the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan, as it is at the tip of the town peninsula. It is quiet here, but you can walk to the night market and restaurants within a few minutes. If you’re not up to walking or not sure where you’re going, you’ll be taken in a golf cart anywhere in town. But this hotel is so great, I’m not sure why you’d want to leave it!
French service and decor differentiate Villa Maly; you’ll feel like you’re in Paris when greeted in their ornate reception room.
Villa Maly’s main building is from 1938, and was once the residence of Princess Khampieng and Prince Khamtan Ounkham, a grandson of King Khamsouk Zakarinh. The hotel’s five buildings are in a beautiful garden and surround an inviting swimming pool with comfortable chaises longues.
Each of the 33 rooms is different, with art and furniture largely from Vietnam. The gold-coloured copper sinks — two in some rooms — highlight the bathrooms.
At night, curtains are drawn around the balconies for privacy (although thicker and wider curtains in the rooms would be more effective, plus allow guests to better control light).
Book their lunch or dinner cruise aboard the beautiful Nava Mekong to the Pak Ou caves. Supplement your Laos visit with the Kamu Lodge Experience, an overnight stay in a tented safari lodge in the jungle and an interaction with the Kamu people.
Want to be close to the main peninsula of Luang Prabang, but in a less touristy neighbourhood? Stay at the Apsara Rive Droite, a quick boat ride or bamboo bridge walk across the Nam Khan River.
The view from your veranda or terrace is green trees, the swimming pool, and the riverside restaurants of the world heritage zone, high above the opposite bank of the greenish waters of the Khan.
There are just nine rooms, all large with wood floors, comfortable beds with smooth linens, and a separate bathtub and shower (note there are no televisions, and the hotel is not for children under 12). Coffee lovers will appreciate the ability to make real Lao coffee right in their room.
I loved the local flowers throughout the hotel, and the delicious-smelling vegetable and herb garden carved out of the riverbank.
Leave time to borrow a hotel bike and ride two kilometers to the nearby village where paper and scarves are made by hand.
In a 1957 cream 190 SL Mercedes, I arrive at a gate surrounded by high walls. On the other side is a magnificent courtyard, filled with a rose garden, a swimming pool and a reflecting pool, and ensconced on four sides by stately buildings.
It is hard to believe that until 2006 this was a prison. I’m escorted to my suite — a large bedroom with a four poster bed with a decorative mosquito net, silk-lined walls, a three room bath and dressing area, with a rain shower and an inviting bathtub. Oh, and my own private pool.
This is Hôtel de la Paix, a hotel both luxury and boutique, and, as the name suggests, extremely peaceful. The service standard and all the little extras make it difficult to want to leave to explore Luang Prabang.
There are 15 garden suites, 2 heritage suites, 4 pool suites and 2 governor suites, each different and all spectacularly understated.
Hôtel de la Paix is now called Sofitel Luang Prabang.
From US$420+ per night inclusive of breakfast
– Immense towels and a choice of bathrobes – brushed cotton or terry cloth.
– On site: two restaurants, an outstanding spa, cooking school, and Baan Silipa, featuring art and dance performances.
– Day beds in each garden to stretch out with a book.
– It was unseasonably cool, and I was too chilly to enjoy the main swimming pool or my private one (but I still preferred my pool suite to one with a fireplace!)
Review by Johanna Read