Sometimes reviewing a hotel is hard as the tendency is to compare it to hotels in other locations, rather than compared to other hotels in the same location. This can give distorted reviews when the place the hotel is in is unlike other places! I’d say Phonsavan falls into this category. Although the town itself is a fairly big place, the amenities for visitors are not as abundant as in other tourist hubs in Laos, despite this being the place to stay for the Plain Of Jars.
Anoulack Ken Lao hotel is classified in TripAdvisor (currently), as a guesthouse (and is also currently listed twice due to differences in the spelling of the name!). I’d say it should be considered a hotel. It’s a new building, with an elevator servicing all floors and a restaurant on the top floor which serves breakfast, and I believe evening meals, although we didn’t go up at night. The hotel itself is off the main road, on the road leading to the “old airstrip”. However, it is very central to everything.
We had informed the hotel of our flight number, and a representative was at the airport to collect us, with my name on a sign – a promising start. The rep was very chatty and upon check-in advised us to go and get settled and then come and see him to discuss options for the next day. It became obvious why during the sales pitch that followed, the rep was actually an employee of Lao Youth Travel, and wanted us to buy a tour from him, and without venturing outside the hotel to see what other tours were on offer or to compare prices. We did end up selecting one of his options, as we didn’t want to traipse around myriad tour agencies, and as a result I think we paid more than the going rate. However, it was easy, and the tour the following day consisted of only myself, my husband, the driver and this rep (whose name was Mr Enxy (pronounced “in-see”)). Mr Enxy has good English and gave us relevant info throughout the day, but also spent a large amount of time on his mobile, seemingly organising tours for other people on subsequent days!!
The remainder of the hotel staff had quite limited English, bar one male (that I believe may have been Mr Enxy’s brother).
The room we were allocated (#202) was on the first floor, at the front, overlooking the car parking area at the front of the hotel. It was enormous. This may be considered to be a good thing by some, but at the time of year we visited, December, Phonsavan is COLD. A smaller room would have been cosier and warmer. That said, my previous comment would rely on there being some way to heat the room. Although there was an air conditioning unit, on which the temperature could be turned up to a maximum of 31 degrees (C), the unit did NOT produce heat of any nature at all, despite the hotel website saying that these could be used for heating. Apparently the only course of action is to ask for an additional blanket if this is required, although we did find the one provided was sufficient (and the sheets smelt super fresh too!). We didn’t find anywhere in Phonsavan that had heating in our two days there!!
The room had, in addition to vast empty floor space, a TV, two armchairs, a luggage rack, a dressing table, and a built in wardrobe, with (purposefully) no doors, part of which contained a small fridge and a kettle (but no cups, tea etc.). This lack of items continued into the bathroom where there was only one glass for a double room.
The bathroom itself was adequate, but the issue was that the shower just ran out of hot water in the morning for my shower (my husband had already showered). There were also some water stains or mold on the ceiling above the shower.
The room also suffered from noise transference from the hotel lobby below, which came up through the stairwell, close to our room. The opening and closing of every door on our floor also was amplified in the echoey corridor.
The hotel apparently has wi-fi, but they don’t promote it like other places in Laos where they give you the password on check in. I also could not get coverage in our room at all.
Breakfast was served buffet style, comprising a bain-marie containing fried eggs, funny coloured sausages, and baguettes, plus additionally there was a plate of fruit, a plate of sweet doughy things, and coffee and tea. Butter and jam were provided, but I did note that the best before date on the butter portions served had expired!
All in all, despite the shortcomings I highlight above, the hotel is adequate for a couple of nights to see the Plain of Jars. At $25 per double per night, it’s not bad value, and is clean and well located. It's a reasonable option when staying in Phonsavan.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.