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“Spectacular setting and beautifully designed in a lovely rustic style” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Topas Ecolodge

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Topas Ecolodge
3.0 of 5 Hotel   |   24 Muong Hoa, Sapa 12345, Vietnam   |  
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Ranked #22 of 44 Hotels in Sapa
London, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
33 reviews 33 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
35 helpful votes 35 helpful votes
“Spectacular setting and beautifully designed in a lovely rustic style”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 26, 2014

This place is unique. Set up as a joint venture between a visionary Danish couple and the local government, it consists of a series of rustic, straw roofed buildings ranged round the crown of a remote hillside close to Vietnam's highest mountains. Accommodation is in a series of white-painted, stone built bungalows each with its own balcony overlooking a stunning view. The main lodge building, which houses the reception, lounge, bar and dining areas is in a larger building in similar style. Furnishings are simple but solid and well designed, and there are lots of pleasant spots round the site where you can sit and take in the view.
The venture is quite an idealistic one, designed to work in harmony with the local environment by using local materials and foodstuffs and employing local people. It mostly works well - the food on each of the two nights and two mornings we ate there was really delicious, imaginatively served and presented. The main drawback is the service, which isn't up to the standard you would normally expect in accommodation of this quality. Staff try to be friendly but they seem a bit distant and lacking in confidence. We also had some housekeeping issues - for example no clothes hangers in the room (and some difficulty procuring any) and a Campari and soda which was mostly Campari and served at room temperature. But these are minor problems that should not put you off visiting if you enjoy a real mountain adventure.

Room Tip: If you think the walk over an uneven stony path might be a problem (especially at night) go for a bu...
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  • Stayed August 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1402Eric, Manager at Topas Ecolodge, responded to this review, August 30, 2014
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A short note about the ownership of Topas Ecolodge. In 2003 when the lodge was built it was done in a partnership between the danish company Topas and a local family in Sapa. Last year the ownership fell totally on danish hands. We still work close with the family, as they arrange a great variety of trekking and cycling tours in Sapa area. The lodge has generally through all the years been managed by danish people in close coordination with the vietnamese family.
The timber in the big buildings is all recycled from minority houses. None of the stones in all the buildings are painted. All are carefully collected in a nearby stone quarry, so the colors match and then skillfully hand chiseled out by local people.
As new managers this year my wife and I have selected different areas to concentrate on. Keeping the standards up, and in some areas improving standards.
We are fully aware that our restaurant and bar staff badly need training. None are professionals. Besides skills in waiting, service and good hospitality they also need english skills. We have a program now to train them, this is now in progress. The minority people working here are willing to learn, so in the future no doubt the level og service will rise.

Thank you for your comments lodge manager Eric
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394 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (52)
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 19, 2014

If you are after 5 star service or amenities this may possibly not be the place for you.

If you are after amazing views, a quiet place away from the city, somewhere with lots of outdoor activities and are ok with the occasional bug in your room then this is 100% somewhere worth staying.

I found the manager extremely nice and accommodating and for the most part although the staff don't speak the best English I understood them and they were quite friendly.

Overall this was an amazing experience and I can't wait to go back one day, hopefully not alone next time!

Stayed August 2014
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1402Eric, Manager at Topas Ecolodge, responded to this review, August 22, 2014
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Dear Elena it was very nice meeting you here at Topas Ecolodge and being able to show you around. Training english with the staff is a highly prioritized part of our job as lodge managers.
I can truly agree that if you are in to outdoor activities and quietness, this is the place to stay.
You are most welcome to come back and visit the lodge again with family.

Thank you for your comments lodge manager Eric
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Singapore
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 8, 2014

I really had no idea what to expect from an "Eco lodge", but was incredibly impressed with what I found. Spacious rooms with stunning views, away from the chaos of Sapa town. Delightful. To sit on the terrace with a cup of tea and just drink in the view. Heaven. Thoroughly recommend. Only thing I had issues with were the bugs/insects/moths - they really need to do something about this. But minor compared to everything's else.

  • Stayed July 2014
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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1402Eric, Manager at Topas Ecolodge, responded to this review, August 22, 2014
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We all have a great deal to thank the people that put this place together on this hill top. We as managers have a daily pleasure running the place and being very fortunate with our incredible hard working staff.
There is no immediate solution to cutting down the amount of bugs. We do not use any kind of pesticides but make sure that the windows and doors to the bungalows do shut tight. Removing bugs is done by hand or with our friendly frogs that are all around the compound.

Thank you for your comments lodge manager Eric
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Sydney, Australia
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 31, 2014

We stayed one night at Topas Ecolodge in Sapa during July.

Pros:
- The rooms had amazing view, and the scenic drive through the mountains toward ecolodge was quite amazing. The view was arguably better those in Sapa.
- The service was decent, however, most of them can't speak good English.

Cons:
- Activities/Tours offered by the Topas (office located in Sapa) were very expensive. We joint one of the private hiking tour offered by Topas in Sapa (cost USD $45 p.p, which is v.expensive in Vietnamese standard). The tour guide spoke poor English and we didn't understand what he said most of the time. I would think if we were paying top price for a tour guide, at least they could have found someone know how to speak English. I would strongly recommend traveler to AVOID booking tours through Topas.
- While the hotel offered amazing views, the rooms/beds etc were not 5 star quality.(However, they do charge more than top 5 star hotels in Vietnamese standard.)

In short, it was a good experience overall. Recommending to stay in the hotel for one night and avoid using the tours.

  • Stayed July 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1402Eric, Manager at Topas Ecolodge, responded to this review, August 4, 2014
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Dear Gary D.

As manager at Topas Ecolodge I am always interested to get comments on our service and overall how are we getting on. How satisfied are our guests. Your comment about our staff that can not speak good English gives me an opportunity to tell you and other readers how the situation is here at Topas Ecolodge. As part of this project we hire almost only local minority people from the area. They all have a limited amount of education, but are very nice an always smiling. There challenges are several. They all speak local minority languages and when they get to school they have to learn the vietnamese language. That means english is there 3.rd language and I must say, it is very hard for them to pronounce properly. I have numerous lessons with the staff. This work is very rewarding, as they are very keen to learn.
You also comment on the standard and price of the rooms and compare in general with other 5 star hotels in Vietnam. Our prices are given by they amount of costs we have to maintain 30 buildings on top of a mountain. The weather her ranges from 4 degrees and damp in the winter and hot, humid and over 40 degrees at other times of the year. We do not and can not be compared with other hotels. We have something extra ordinary here and there is a cost.
You also comment on your experience on a hiking tour arranged by Topas Travel. The procedure after the tour is as follows. The guide has a questionnaire which is run trough with the guests that have participated in the tour. Our guides are instructed to react on unsatisfactory results, so the company can if necessary give some compensation. Every guide has to hand in the questionnaire after the tour and to insure a high standard. The management looks through these. We will most certainly look into your case and I can offer you the possibility to contact our office direct if you so wish.

Thank you for your comments lodge manager Eric
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Perth, Australia
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 28, 2014

We booked only one night here.. and when we tried to extend we were unable due to the night trains being full!

Absolutely amazing setting in the mountains of Sapa, run by some good Pommie lads.

I strongly suggest staying at least two nights!

Great food too.

Room Tip: Stay in the rooms with number >200
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  • Stayed July 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1402Eric, Manager at Topas Ecolodge, responded to this review, August 7, 2014
Thank you for writing to TripAdvisor.
I can not really understand your comment about Topas Ecolodge is run by "Pommie lads"
As danish lodge managers - my wife and I take great care to make sure all our guests are taken care of. Unless you have stayed here while we were on a short holiday, the place is under our leadership. We were away a week in July. It was the local staff that ran the place in close contact with us.

It is at challenge for all hotels i Sapa area, when our guests decide to stay an extra night, but unfortunately can not get a new train ticket. Within a short period of time a new highway will be completed from Hanoi til Lao Cai. This will indeed give a much more flexible journey to and from Sapa area.

Thank you for your comments lodge manager Eric.
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Burton upon Trent, United Kingdom
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 27, 2014

It's been about 6 months since I stayed here for 2 nights but it was one of my favourites.
To get there we had a hellish over night train from Hanoi to Lao Cai which arrived about 4am. We were so tired we barely noticed the scenic drive through the mountains as the sun started to rise. By the time we'd driven up to Topas it was about 6am and all I could think about was a shower and my bed and I questioned why on earth I'd done all this just to get there. I was soon regretting that!
We got in to our bungalow which was basic (but I'm saying that in a positive way) and extremely charming. The balcony looked out on to miles of mountains and rivers and countryside. Everything was clean and fresh and after the chaos of Hanoi the silence was bliss.
I've read some reviews on here which didn't really enjoy how basic the rooms were but I was more than happy. The room can get very damp as you are in the clouds but I soon learnt to leave the humidifier on and it wasn't a problem. Some people said they felt very cold at night but again the heater and warm PJ's were fine for me.
The bar/restaurant had simple but tasty food. The menu let's you sample a lot of different dishes which I liked. The main plus of this hotel is the location. You are just surrounded by the most amazing back drop and even in February when the sun came out it was gloriously hot.
The Red Dzao are a handful when leaving the complex but this is the nature of that area. At the end of the day they are friendly, knowledgeable and helpful guides. We were accompanied by 3 ladies round the buffalo trail trying to sell us things but also telling us about the area. Just be firm but fair if you don't want anything and its not a problem

Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
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1402Eric, Manager at Topas Ecolodge, responded to this review, August 22, 2014
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Living on a hilltop and at a remote place at the same time gives its challenges. Nice to hear that you had read about the place before you came and to some extent knew what you could expect.
I can totally agree with you that the scenery is spectacular. It is no secrete though that we do experience days of cloud. We are situated in 1000 m altitude and it can be cold and cloudy. The opposite - sun and a clear sky is no rarity.
I am very pleased that you acknowledged the Red Dao ladies and your comments are most help full for future guests to understand there way of life, which is very hard compared to many of our guests.

Thank you for your comments lodge manager Eric
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Leiden
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 16, 2014

We chose this hotel because of the superb location, and upon arrival this happened to be very true. What nice premises beautifully located. We stayed here 3 nights in a deluxe bungalow with a superb view and (nessecary) AC. We spent a great time amidst a breathtaking scenery. The service however was not up to standard. Taking into consideration the high prices you pay we don't think you can use "working with local people who don't speak our language" as an excuse. If one is aware of this the prices should be lower.
All guests are obliged to use their dinner in this lodge and we found out that there is nothing to choose but only a set dinner at an expensive rate compared to Vietnamese standard. The food offered however was not even coming close to the standard compared to other (also difficult to reach) places in Vietnam. For all other meals in 50% of the cases we got something different from what we ordered. We think these are points that really deserve attention.
However, the breathtaking scenery also from our veranda made our stay worthwhile.

  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1402Eric, Manager at Topas Ecolodge, responded to this review, August 10, 2014
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The deluxe bungalow (9) do not have AC. There is an additional cost for one of the 16 upgraded Executive bungalows with AC and minibar.
Service and english skills are 2 key points we are dealing with as new managers. The staff are all hard working, however just to move a little forward, you have to persevere. The lodge is open all year, and with the same amount of staff in high and low season, there is a cost. We do not hide behind the fact that the staff are badly in need of more english skills, but part of the ecolodge mindset is to give local minority groups of people the opportunity to have a job and through this give them the necessary skills.
Your comment about the food – receiving something else than order is for me a little understandable. I have inquired into the matter – we are located remotely on a hill top and if stock runs out we can not always provide everything all the time. Our chefs however have a good feeling for what we can sell and buy accordingly.
Service is one thing, keeping all the staff in the low season is another. Price and quality will always be a subjective and personal view. We have other challenges compared to other hotels. We try to do our best and the majority of our guests thoroughly enjoy there stay.

Thank you for your comments lodge manager Eric
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Topas Ecolodge

Address: 24 Muong Hoa, Sapa 12345, Vietnam
Phone Number:
Location: Vietnam > Lao Cai Province > Sapa
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service
Hotel Style:
#2 Romantic Hotel in Sapa
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3 star — Topas Ecolodge 3*
Number of rooms: 25
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A Bungalow stay at Topas Ecolodge is the perfect way to experience the remoteness and quiet of Northern Vietnam, its landscape, fresh air and ethnic minorities. Set deep in the spectacular Sapa valley, Topas Ecolodge has a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and across the scenic valley. As our guest you will enjoy all the comforts of a pleasant stay in an environment that is making a responsible and sustainable commitment to the nature and people of Sapa Valley. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Topas Ecolodge Sapa
Topas Ecolodge Hotel Sapa

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