I selected the Hotel Khamvongsa for my one night stay in Vientiane based on Trip Advisor ratings and comments. I debated about whether to give it a 3 or a 4 for my personal rating, and ended up going with a 4.
Based on my experience, here are the Pros, Cons, and Neutrals:
Clean! - The room, restaurant area, reception, and hallways all looked clean and well-maintained.
Bathroom – Not the best lighting, but the shower had plentiful hot water and great pressure.
Pre-arrival communication - I emailed back and forth with the hotel several times prior to my arrival. They were always very prompt and courteous in their response, and accommodated my request for a loft room on the top floor. I also emailed about arranging a local tour guide ahead of my visit, since I had a very short time in Vientiane and wanted to see as much as possible. They replied with three recommendations, and I ended up using one of them. Ironically, the actual tour guide and driver who picked me up at the airport had never heard of the hotel, but found it easily enough.
Breakfast – Get the Swedish pancakes, they are EXCELLENT!!
Wi-Fi – Worked fine for basic email/check the weather-type use (I did not try to use VPN).
Loft Rooms - both a Pro and Neutral for me. On the "Pro" side, my loft room (Room 501) was a very cool-looking room. It was nicely furnished, had big windows that let in a lot of natural light, and a view which includes the Inpeng temple across the street. I loved all the vertical space in the room.
From my experience, there are no real cons to staying at this hotel. The reasons for my rating are based more on the balance between the "Pros" above and the "Neutrals" below, which may or may not be cons for someone else.
The upstairs portion of the Loft-type rooms (Based on my experience with Room 501) - This is a small upstairs area where the bed - and only the bed - is located. Here’s what you should know in advance of booking a loft room to make sure it's the right choice for you:
1. The stairs are very steep. They could be difficult to manage if you have had a bit to drink, were not careful making a late-night descent to get to the toilet, or are otherwise unsteady on your feet for whatever reason. Also, in Room 501 the landing at the top of the stairs is pulling away from the floor just a little bit.
2. I could not get the loft area to cool down. The air conditioning did an excellent job cooling the downstairs, but I was hot all night upstairs. There is an additional aircon unit high on the wall upstairs, but I could not find a remote that worked for it (it was too high to reach without a ladder), or figure out how to turn it on from any switch. There is also a ceiling fan upstairs, but it's a bit noisy. I don't like sleeping under the direct draft from a ceiling fan, but if you can handle that then the upstairs aircon issue will not be as big a deal.
The bed - It really is hard, and would not be comfortable for more than just a couple of nights (unless you really prefer a hard bed).
The staff - Pre-arrival communication via email was excellent, but staff onsite were just “ok”. They absolutely did their job, and were not rude at all. They were just not particularly friendly, either. That said, they were good about schlepping my bags upstairs for me and explaining what I needed to know about the room. They also gave me a map and whatever advice I needed when I had specific questions, so no complaints.
The hotel’s interior stairs - If you stay on an upper floor (I requested the top floor), be aware that there is no lift. It didn’t bother me, but could be an issue for some.
Overall, I recommend this hotel. If I return to Vientiane and stay here again I would, however, request a single or double room instead of a loft room.
I definitely recommend a visit to Vientiane. I wish I had been able to stay at least one extra day with more time to just stroll around, try a couple of different restaurants and get to experience the city a bit more. I found Vientiane to be truly delightful, and in fact it exceeded my expectations. Laos is more about the ambiance in general than about specific sites, in my opinion, and Vientiane embodies this. Very glad I made time for at least a quick visit, and I hope to return.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Hotel Khamvongsa is a cozy and elegant family run hotel in the old part of central Vientiane, with bright, spacious rooms, decorated in French colonial and Lao style. Our team of friendly, dedicated, English speaking staff takes pride in providing top quality service, caring for the different needs of our guests. Khamvongsa offers all you need and more at good value: stylish rooms with comfortable beds, free internet access, and a delicious and generous breakfast. ... more less