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“Fine hotel spoiled by attempted rip-off at checkout” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Empress Hotel IMS Ho Chi Minh

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Empress Hotel IMS Ho Chi Minh
2.5 of 5 Hotel   |   136 Bui Thi Xuan Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #118 of 360 hotels in Ho Chi Minh City
Nottingham, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
65 reviews 65 reviews
31 hotel reviews
Reviews in 40 cities Reviews in 40 cities
71 helpful votes 71 helpful votes
“Fine hotel spoiled by attempted rip-off at checkout”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 30, 2012

The hotel itself is fine, with comfortable rooms, good air conditioning and a fair priced bar/restaurant attached.  The backpacking area is only a ten minute walk and has lots of lively bars and restaurants.  Our personal favourite was the Bread and Butter which has friendly staff and a does a cracking Sausage and Mash, albeit with German style bratwurst.  We would also suggest the good value happy hour cocktails at Cheeky Monkey bar.  I would have given the hotel a fairly positive review aside from what happened when we tried to check-out.

We were called at about ten to nine to say our taxi had arrived and proceeded to the reception desk to check out.  We were then asked to wait whilst they checked the room.  We asked what they were going to check, and were told it was in case we'd "left anything".  The receptionist, her name-badge said "Lucy", made a phone call which wasn't answered and then shouted at the bell boy who got in the lift.  I asked if we could pay whilst the room was checked, but I got no response from Lucy who seemed to be filling time by shuffling paperwork.  It was obvious they were checking for THEIR own protection, which is highly irregular and I have never experienced anywhere else in the world, and even more baffling given that they had taken a pre-authorisation of my credit card at check in.

A few minutes later the bell boy reappeared and asked us to sit down whilst we waited.  I pointed out that we had a taxi waiting outside, we'd had enough of waiting, and just wanted to pay.  Lucy, who had now become quite surly, finally gave us the bill and we paid by card before leaving, during which time a maid appeared and headed to the elevator, presumably to check our room.

Just as we'd got into the taxi the bell boy came running out to say there was "a problem".  Upon returning inside I was told that "wine" was missing from the mini bar, and shown a slip on which Lucy highlighted the whisky, vodka and cognac.  I was by now pretty frustrated and made very clear that we'd not had those drinks, and infact had only had the free bottles of drinking water replenished in our room for two out of the four days so clearly the maid wasn't checking the mini bar properly.  After the accusation was made and countered a number of times, and Lucy had made yet another phone call, I was told I could go.

Vietnam is known for it's scams, and most tourists know to be wary of taxi drivers, but you don't expect unscrupulous behaviour from hotels.  This is quite obviously a scam to try and increase hotel takings by about $15, which perhaps some people feel pressured into giving in and paying.  My suggestion would to be avoid the Empress Hotel.  Despite being a fine hotel, the attempted scam by the staff was insulting and left a really sour taste.  Find another of the many good value hotels in HCMC, but preferably one with integrity.

Also, be careful to watch out for taxi scams.  We were picked up from the bus station by a taxi and driven 5 minutes to our hotel whilst watching the meter rocket up.  When we got there we were asked for 288,000d ($15), which is outrageous compared to standard metered price.  We refused and only gave 50,000d, which he accepted after I took photos of his registration and said I would phone his office.  We later found out the bus stop was just around the corner and the taxi should have cost only around 10,000d.  We also heard of another couple paying $30 from the airport when it should cost no more than $9 including all fees.

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CaryLeung, General Manager at Empress Hotel IMS Ho Chi Minh, responded to this review, June 12, 2012
Dear Guests,

I deeply regret you had the feeling that the hotel was trying to "rip you off" on some mini-bar charges. Since arriving at this hotel two months ago, I have to admit that our housekeeping department has not been doing a good job in replenishing or checking on the mini-bar items but I can assure you that corrective actions have been taken and incidents like this will not happen again in the future.

Yours sincerely,
Cary Leung
General Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Location
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (7)
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liverpool
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
23 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 17, 2012

Just 10-15 mins stroll away from the active area of District 1, this hotel is located near the park and seems to put a breathing space between the road chaos of Ho Chi Minh centre and its urban spread. An elegant entrance is complimented by attentive reception staff and there is often someone on the door to usher in the AC or introduce the heat of the day. Our room was compact, pleasantly styled, however this styling did result in an unnecessary dimness due to the choice of lighting. I requested a room with a decent window and we were able to look out onto the street at the front. Windows opened so we had a sense of air to the room and our packed clothes. All equipment (tv, aircon, fridge, plugs etc) worked and the bathroom was a nice size with a good shower area.
Breakfast was served in the bistro next door and was moderate with good service for toast and coffees. I found the hotel trip options to be far more expensive than the travel agents opposite the park, for what appeared to be identical offerrings (eg $23 vs $5 for a day at the Meekong).
We were warned about moped bag-snatchers and I pass this on to you. Its rife in HCM and we witnessed it and heard several sorry stories. There was not a lot to see around the city (the odd pagoda, palace and zoo), and we felt a couple of days was enough. Its lively areas are cosmopolitan and vibrant at night to early morning; but we were then glad to move on to our next stop.

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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London
Top Contributor
51 reviews 51 reviews
17 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 7, 2012

The hotel's location is a 15-20 minute walk to the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Post Office and the market. This to me is a bonus as I saw more of Ho Chi Minh this way and also got to walk through a very pleasant park.

The hotel smelt a little musty, particularly on hotter days, but was clean, well run and with friendly staff on the front desk. I had a room at the back of the hotel which was a bonus as this meant I didn't get much traffic noise during my stay.

The downside was the wi-fi access that was only accessible via the Business Centre and for which you paid a fee whenever you used it.

Room Tip: Request a room at the back. Also walking through the park at one end of the street, particularly in...
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Top Contributor
54 reviews 54 reviews
26 hotel reviews
Reviews in 27 cities Reviews in 27 cities
40 helpful votes 40 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 2, 2012 via mobile

had a 3 nights stay at this hotel. booked it thru airasia travel agency. went for a holiday with a friend.
in general its kinda strategic in terms of location considering the amount paid for this hotel.
rooms is good.. just that at nights since its near the street u can hear noise from the nearest pubs and since its next to street, therefore expect vehicles sounds all the time.
other than that, i think if ur considering a place with affordability and ok location. this place can be considered. .
breakfast is not great but good..

Stayed June 2011
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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Top Contributor
77 reviews 77 reviews
17 hotel reviews
Reviews in 37 cities Reviews in 37 cities
43 helpful votes 43 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 19, 2012

Although this hotel is 2 1/2 star but the service is like 4 star hotel with freindly and tip top service that i have experience.It also clean and tidy. I notice that foreignese like to stay this hotel although it quite far from the town.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Dallas
Top Contributor
216 reviews 216 reviews
43 hotel reviews
Reviews in 75 cities Reviews in 75 cities
152 helpful votes 152 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 25, 2012

The reason I booked this hotel was that I was using American Express membership reward points to pay for the stay and it looked to be the best value for the use of the points. The actual cost was around 27.00 usd per night.

At first I really didnt like the location because it is slightly away from the major tourist areas. If I were only going to be in Ho Chi Minh for one or two nights I probably would not choose this hotel because of the location. However after being there for the length of time I was there I begin to appreciate the location being slightly off the beaton path.

The location is a few blocks from an interesting back packer area and you can walk to the Ben Thanh market which is about 10 or 12 blocks away. A taxi fare to the market should not cost more than around 40,000 dong (2. usd) sometimes it cost less than half that depending on traffic.

Despite some reviews saying there is no elevator, there is an elevator but the configuration of the hotel requires some rooms to be accessed with the use of stairs. I stayed in room 209 which I took the elevator to level 1 then walked around a hallway , then down a few steps , then up one flight of steps to my room. The room is of average asain hotel rooms size and the bathroom had a very nice large walk in shower with very good quality toiletries. We learned quickly that the air conditioner needed to run contineusly in order to keep the room cool enough for me. The television has a nice variety of international and local channels. The queen size bed was adequate and the maid provided me with some extra pillows.

The breakfast in the hotel was in the restaurant ajoining the hotel and it can be accessed by the same staircase that used to get to my room. I never tired of the breakfast. For the size of the hotel I felt it was a better than average choice of both western and asian items. Each day there would be different meat such as bacon, ham, or sausage. A couple of juice choices, cereal, scrambled eggs, toast, bagettes, some type of asian soup, different choices of other asian items. The staff will also provide your choice of coffee, tea or vietnamese coffee with condensed milk.

The personel were extremely friendly especially the bell hops and the manager of the hotel. They tried their best to help me with making travel arrangments and finding anything I might need while I was there. Be sure to explore the back alleys. The manager recommended a seamstress whose work was excellent and much less expensive than in the more tourist areas. In the back alleys you can find an ice cream parlor, laundry, restaurants etc etc. Basically anything you might need is back there and at lower prices than in the tourist areas.

I am planning on returning to this hotel for another extended stay. Also there was complimentary internet.

Room Tip: Not sure about that one.. I was in room 209 and it was very quite. Might not be the same if you sta...
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  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 7, 2012

The staff was a bit standoffish (a rare experience during my stay in Vietnam), but the room was clean and the bed fine. The lighting was hideous and the bathroom dismal (though, again, clean). A decent, safe and central location in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City with access to some good restaurants and, for Saigon anyway, good walks.

Smoking is permitted in the lobby lounge so it gets a bit stuffy at times. And, holy toledo, there is an elevator!

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Empress Hotel IMS Ho Chi Minh

Address: 136 Bui Thi Xuan Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Location: Vietnam > Ho Chi Minh City
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #118 of 360 hotels in Ho Chi Minh City
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Empress Hotel IMS Ho Chi Minh 2.5*
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Also Known As:
Empress Hotel Ho Chi Minh City

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