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“charming place, poor service” 1 of 5 stars
Review of The Apsara

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The Apsara
2.5 of 5 Hotel   |   Banks of the Nam Khan, Luang Prabang, Laos   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #20 of 67 Hotels in Luang Prabang
Lisbon, Portugal
Top Contributor
95 reviews 95 reviews
50 hotel reviews
Reviews in 58 cities Reviews in 58 cities
117 helpful votes 117 helpful votes
“charming place, poor service”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed March 28, 2007

The Apsara could easily have been one of the most charming places i've stayed in except for my experience on my last night there which is pretty much what IGo Everywhere (see above) went through. like him, my fiance and i had reserved a room months in advance for 3 nights, with assurances from them that the booking was in order. imagine our horror to find out on the 3rd night, at 11 in the evening, on coming back from the cultural dance show at the royal palace, exhausted after already more than a week of touring around only wanting the comfort of our bed....to be told by a staff that there were people already occupying our room!!! and that they had already put together our stuff ready to be taken away!!! apparently, they got our reservations very badly mixed-up and since we were out, just bumped us off in favor of the new guys without any prior notice. .they told us that we could take our luggages (none of the staff even offered to help considering the circumstances) and stay at the 'Villa' for the night. (it is as IGoEverywhere said --- like a haunted house.) worse, my fiance had to go back and forth to the 'main' house(Apsara) to borrow a key or something to open the main water pipe (nobody informed us in advanced that it was closed, so nobody had the sense to give us the key or whatever to open it and to tell us where the main pipe was located --- my fiance had to search in partial darkness!) All these 'small' gestures would have been the least they could do after all the inconvenience they had caused--- and at past midnight even!!! i was expecting the next morning that the management would offer their apologies and perhaps give us a discount for the last night for all the troubles their unreliable and bad service had caused, but we got neither discount nor apologies.

a pity really, because Luang Prabang had been the perfect getaway place, and i fell in love with the Apsara as soon as i saw it, but everything was spoiled in the last hours by bad hotel service. i travel often and have stayed in countless hotels in different countries but have never met with this kind of treatment from the hotel management/staff. apparently, it wasn't the first time this happened with Apsara.

we loved the room, though. the bathroom, however, while reasonably clean, is a long way from the elegance of the room. the restaurant was nice, but nothing special about the breakfast. and yes, the noise from the street at night didn't make for restful sleep.

Stayed February 2004
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255 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (50)
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Aussie in Phnom Penh
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 16, 2007

My husband and I stayed at The Apsara and thought it was wonderful. The restaurant, the bar, the rooms - all magnifico! The decor is so funky and elegant, not what you would expect in a hotel in Luang Prabang. The owner was delightful and very helpful. I would definitely recommend The Apsara to anyone who wants a bit of luxury but without the high cost.

  • Liked — Location, decor, ambiance
  • Disliked — Nothing!
  • Stayed March 2006, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne
Top Contributor
72 reviews 72 reviews
47 hotel reviews
Reviews in 39 cities Reviews in 39 cities
43 helpful votes 43 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 14, 2007

I have just returned from a three week trip to Laos and this was the best hotel I stayed at, especially given the reasonable price. The location is central, rooms very clean and aircon (which you will need!) was strong and not too noisy. The staff were very friendly. The restaurant is great. There is some noise as other reviewers have mentioned but that is Laos for you.

My only word of warning - while I was there, there was clearly an overbooking for some other guests. The Apsara seems to work off a handwritten schedule. I suggest that you confirm prior to arrival.

  • Stayed February 2007, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
Top Contributor
52 reviews 52 reviews
36 hotel reviews
Reviews in 34 cities Reviews in 34 cities
74 helpful votes 74 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 20, 2007

We spent four nights at the Apsara in Jan 2007 and simply can't wait to return. We booked a downstairs deluxe room and loved the convenience of having a balcony that fronted right on to the street and river opposite. It also meant we were right next to the restuarant & bar any time we wanted something. I loved their "can do" attitude. If guests want a G&T on their balcony, it's absolutely no trouble at all. Service was always friendly and never obtrusive. As a same-sex couple we had absolutely no discomfort staying here (apart from some American guests...but that's their issue to deal with...).

Our room was beautifully and tastefully furnished and kept spotlessly clean by housekeeping. The bathroom was large - perhaps the only small gripes being that the bath is high so despite being fit and young it was an adventure stepping in an out. by design, there is no shower curtain meaning that the floor got wet. Also, while there is sop in the room, no shampo or other amenities were provided.

These really are the only tiny things I could find at the Apsara that weren't entirely positive. Dinner was a great experience - though be warned, servings are enormous!! We loved the simplicity of the continental breakfast - especially the homemade preserves and the delicious fresh baguettes.

I can't wait to return to Luang Prabang, and I wouldn't dream of staying anywhere other than the Apsara

  • Liked — Gorgeous rooms. Fab location. a perfect Hotel experience.
  • Disliked — Having to leave
  • Stayed February 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
USA
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed January 22, 2007

I booked a specific room months in advance, knowing how popular ihe Inn is, and contacted them from time to time to make sure my reservation was in order. Just before leaving for Luang Prabang, I asked if I had a balcony, and was assured that yes, I did. When I arrived, at 2:30 PM, I was told by the manager that there was a problem, and they had no room for me, but not to worry, they would put me up in their "Villa". A traditional house of Luang Prabang, which looked like a haunted house in a little woods. The windows were boarded up, because there were no screens or panes, the bathroom was down steep steps in a cellar, with two burned out lightbulbs. There was no hot water to bathe and a sign said, that although they tried hard to keep them out, "critters could be present". I saw endless possiblities of entry. Four pages of e-mails had assured me that I would have a room in the main house overlooking the river, and instead, my room was given away! I raced back to the Inn to be assured that I would have the room I was supposed to have the next night, but the Manager was gone, and they could not find my name on the ledger (tho they did have my e-mails). I walked back to the Haunted House, which had no outside lighting, having to swing over the picket gate with difficulty because it was impossible to see the padlock to unlock, and then groped my way down the dark path, and had to feel to find the door lock in the dark. O Conde Nast and New York Times, would that you could have had my experience at this "Classy Establishment"! I bolted the place at dawn. BEWARE!!!!

Stayed January 2007
Was this review helpful? Yes 12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Singapore
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
226 helpful votes 226 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 18, 2007

The Apsara first caught my attention in Herbert Ypma’s HIP Hotels Orient. Before that, I had no idea where Luang Prabang was. Thanks to the write-up, I surfed the Internet for more information on the ancient capital of Laos. I was so inspired by what I read that I decided to make a trip there… of course, The Apsara was on my must stay list.

It was a good thing I booked The Apsara five months ahead of my trip (I was there first week of Jan 07). The hotel was fully booked by Dec! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why this hotel is so hot! But if you must know, here are the reasons why:

Best Location

Located along the Nam Kham River, this hotel is the perfect place to monk watch. Yes, many novice monks would walk past the hotel most of the day, adding to the charm and colour of the neighbourhood which is very peaceful even though there is a main road in front of the hotel. By the way, I did not have any problems with traffic noise as there was hardly any traffic to speak of!

For fans of the Tak Bat, a morning ritual where hundreds of monks line up in a single file to collect alms, the hotel is a monk’s robe throw away from Sakkarine Road, which is the best place to soak in the action.

Best Restaurant

So chic that it hurts, The Apsara restaurant is packed every night for dinner. Again, it doesn’t take a genius to guess why. The Laos Fusion food is fabulicious with a good wine list and many say, the best Martini in town. Useful Tip: Reservations are strongly recommended. On the night I was there, I saw many people being turned away. I felt so bad for them…

Pity about the breakfast which was a disappointment. I had expected a sumptuous spread, but it only had toast, fresh fruits, orange juice and coffee or tea. If it’s any consolation, the homemade jams are quite yummy.

Best Room

My Superior Upstairs Room in the main building is very spacious like a junior suite! Huge enough to fit in a king bed and a day bed! The open-concept bathroom comes with a separate shower and bath. Clean with adequate hot shower. Best of all, I had my own balcony which offers lovely views of the Nam Khan River.

The décor is minimalist chic with baby blue organza curtains, matching cushions and throws. Colourful glass Buddhas also adorn the room. I was so smitten by them, I actually bought one of them home!

Only problem with the room is the creaky wooden floor.

Best Staff

One would think that for such a trendy establishment, the staff would be snotty. But thankfully, it was not the case. The staff are a down to earth friendly bunch including the proprietor, Ivan Scholte whom I had the privilege to meet. They are like a big family, always smiling and very accommodating. Their service is best described as sincere, not over the top.

To sum up, this boutique hotel has possibly the best of everything you could ever want in Luang Prabang. I had a wonderful two nights stay and my only regret is not staying there longer. I really miss sitting in my balcony every morning and late afternoon admiring the expansive river views and watching the neighbourhood kids playing soccer in the streets. If you want to experience the simple pleasures of Luang Prabang, then The Apsara is the place to be!

  • Liked — The unbeatable location, service and designer rooms.
  • Disliked — The breakfast which I hope they would improve by having hot dishes.
  • Stayed January 2007, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sacramento
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
50 helpful votes 50 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 9, 2007

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay. The hotel is very proximate to what you want to see but overlooking the Nam Khan river (across the street), it's a quieter area than the LP peninsula center or Mekong side. There can be a bit of noise at night as sometimes guys gather across the street to chat and we heard loud music once or twice - not from the hotel.

The staff was helpful with advice and setting up day trips. The restaurant was great - we also enjoyed the eggplant salad and a lime, alcoholic drink whose name I can't recall. Very convenient to be able to go down and get a drink or some good food whenever you want. The room was quite large with a high ceiling. There is limited clothes hanging space. The balcony was small (see pic) but we used it a lot to sit with our cocktails and watch the street.

The word "quaint" would be used to describe this hotel in the US. It is not shiny and sleek - the halls have marks on the walls and they aren't well lit. But it feels wonderful.

We would recommend the Elephant and the Villa Santi for somewhat pricey dinners and the Tamarind for cheap but great Lao food sampler plates at lunch.

  • Liked — Large rooms and great location
  • Disliked — Can't think of anything
  • Tips/Secrets — Second story with balcony rooms are worth the extra 10 or 15 bucks
  • Stayed December 2006, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Apsara

Address: Banks of the Nam Khan, Luang Prabang, Laos
Location: Laos > Luang Prabang Province > Luang Prabang
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#18 Family Hotel in Luang Prabang
#18 Romantic Hotel in Luang Prabang
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:2.5 star — The Apsara 2.5*
Number of rooms: 13
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The first and still one of the most beautiful boutique hotels in Luang Prabang, the Apsara was originally a rice warehouse situated on the banks of the Nam Khan [The quieter side of town]. The Apsara is also right in the heart of the heritage village, making it the perfect place to stay. From the comfort of its large, airy bedrooms, rated by the Washington Post as "an inch beyond decadence", it's easy to explore temples and the lanes of Luang Prabang. After which you can relax on the river terrace and enjoy the spectacular views and a refreshing Beer Laos. But that's not all, our restaurant is well known for having one of the most interesting menus in town as well as a superb wine list and the driest martinis in Laos. As Hip Hotels said "Both the restaurant and bar reflect a refined sense of taste" and who are we to argue with that. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Apsara Hotel Luang Prabang
Apsara Luang Prabang
Apsara Hotel Luang Prabang

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