Spent a month in Vietnam - my first visit to the country and I had two separate stints in HCMC - about 14 nights in total.
First stint, I stayed at 5-star hotels (The Equatorial & the Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers for two nights each...both great for different reasons, so see my separate review on each of these), but on the second stint, I decided to stay in 3 or 4 star properties in and around Ben Thanh Markets (Signature, Blue Diamond & Lan Lan 1 Hotels), in order to be up close and personal.to the sights and the sounds of the Ben Thanh and Saigon Centre, area.
I stayed here, at the Golden Central Hotel, a 4-star property, on my last day & night in HCMC, after having visited it during the week and asking to be shown a deluxe room.
For my last day in HCMC, I wanted to mainly relax by the pool and not many hotels in the immediate Ben Thanh area, great value for money that they are and all, actually have pools. (I think The Grand Silverland Hotel, another 4 star, in among mostly 2 & 3 star properties immediately surrounding Ben Thanh Markets, is the only other one that I found with within a couple of hundreds metres of Ben Thanh with a pool and the pool here, at the Golden Central, is way higher than that one and has a better perspective as you look down on the Grand Silverland pool....though admittedly, i didn't go and check out the Grand Silverland itself, mainly due to price ...it was substantially more expensive than the Golden Central on the booking websites,)
I was blown away by the panorama when they took me to the 16th floor to show me the pool /restaurant area and I knew I would stay here at the Grand Central, for the views/city sky scape perspective alone! I was able to drink it all in and those memories are still with me, even though I've been back home for more than a week now.
The pool area, while quite compact (especially when compared to the magnificent pool at The Equatorial...though that Hotel is in District 5 - a ten minute taxi ride away from the Ben Thanh markets, where there is a lot more space and not the ability to just go out and wander around the local neigbourhood at night), is nicely set out.....the restaurant is adjacent, so you can order food and drinks very readily and I truly enjoyed the time I spent up there, both swimming, sunbathing & soaking in the sights!
When making the booking, after looking at all the booking sites etc, and given that I was already staying just around the corner, I went in to see the front desk staff and they themselves gave me the best deal. It cost $95 (with breakfast) for a deluxe front facing room on the 15th floor.....initially they gave me a room on the 9th floor, but a building next door, obstructed some of the panorama over towards the CBD area and I asked to be changed to the highest floor available, on the basis that I booked the room for the view.. Staff checked room availability and promptly and pleasantly changed my room to the 15th floor at no extra cost.
Granted, as per some of the other comments, their rooms, even their deluxe ones with views, are quite small (even compared to the two three star properties I had stayed in just around the corner), but my room had quality furnishings, the bed and pillows were soft and very comfortable and the magnificent panorama, more than made up for the smaller room size.
My room gave me a 180 degree view over Ben Thanh markets in front and the financial and CBD districts out to the left and another part of the city out to the right. But the pool area on top offered a truly 360 degree panorama. If you can't get a room at the front, the ones on the highest floors on the left side of the building also look out towards the CBD and the Financial District... the ones on the right, while still having good views, look towards another part of the city that I am less familiar with.
Breakfast here was good, but not great if you really want that - try the 5 star hotels mentioned above. The breakfast, was much more geared to Western/Australian/American tastes than the three 3 star properties I stayed at, where Asian style options were in the majority (not that I minded there, as it was all part of the experience). The orange juice in particular stood out as being better than at the 3 star properties where I stayed.
Staff were friendly and obliging - the Concierge staff even offered to post a number of parcels for me to destinations, both in Vietnam and back here in Australia as an item of clothing that was being made up for me, wasn't finished and I left money to cover cost of postage etc and one of the staff was even going to go down the road to the tailors to collect the item for me and then take it and the other items to the Post Office in his own time. Concierge staff even helped me pack and wrap one of my parcels to an address within Vietnam.
Location wise, the hotel really is just a minute's walk from the markets as they say and there are some great inexpensive restaurants in and around the area too, not to mention tailor and dressmaking shops. The foyer area is large and spacious, with plenty of room to spread out, even for me, at this stage a singular traveller.....though even it's important, I think, if you are a group or family travelling together, as it's nice to have an area within the Hotel to congregate as opposed to everyone being in the one room (something you don't necessarily get in the 3 star properties in the area).
As a lone woman, I always felt safe, even when walking around at night as there are plenty of people around as the Night Markets (immediately adjacent to two sides of Ben Thanh Markets) open when Ben Thanh Markets close. Both are just a 50 metre walk to the corner and then turn right for another 100 metres and you are at Ben Thanh!. Go left or right a bot 30 metres and there are the night markets!
Depending on what my top priorities were re accommodation for my next visit to HCMC and who I was travelling with, I would definitely consider staying here again. Location is fantastic, it has a pool and the views are unbeatable! As a total package, the ideal location to Ben Thanh (also a five minute walk from the Reunification Palace), the pool, restaurant and bar, breakfast food variety, fantastic views from selected rooms and pool/restaurant, room furnishings, bed comfort level and overall hotel amenities, make it hard to beat, given it is definitely of a higher standard than the three star properties in the area that I stayed at and I believe, worth the additional cost if this package is your priority.
If you want larger rooms and nothing much else, especially, no pool, then you have a plethora of choice in the immediate vicinity, of mainly 2 & 3 star properties, but also a few other 4 star hotels....though again, to get a larger room, you usually have to pay a higher price to a deluxe or city view room than that of standard advertised rates. If you want a trendier 3 Star plus Hotel with riztier & trendier, decor, then the A & E Prince, just around the corner, offers that, but again the rooms are small - even the deluxe ones and the price is about teh same.....but there is NO pool! I checked that one out too, when on I was on the hunt for my final night - very nice but not having a pool, meant I didn't want to stay there....but the decor ad furnishings are very modern with ok views from their front facing deluxe rooms, but not the true city scape views offered by the Golden Central.
If for whatever reason, you decide not to stay here, at the Golden Central, then at least go for a drink or a meal at their restaurant so as to access the pool area and restaurant for the views alone - both day and night and don't leave the camera behind...you will regret if you do!
The rooftop panorama also helps you get an understanding of the layout of HCMC, which from my perspective, is also useful for this last current trip and any subsequent ones I will make.
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