This review is longish because it covers two different apartment opportunities under the Mekong Estate banner. Their website is not entirely clear to the uninitiated.
We spent three weeks with the Mekong Estate in early 2012. Most of the time we were at the Ban Saylom location in the south end of Luang Prabang, about 8 minutes by bicycle (faster by tuk tuk) to the centre of the Historic Zone. We spent three days as well right in the centre of town at their Vat Nong Downtown triplex.
At Ban Saylom we stayed in Bamboo 3, which is a one bedroom teak wood apartment on the lower floor of a modern two storey house. It was a delight. The apartment was large and featured a wall of floor to ceiling glass doors overlooking the Mekong and affording a splendid view of the sunset every evening. The bedroom was big with lots of closet space, air conditioning/heating, and a room safe.
There was a small kitchenette, enough to cook up something light but you wouldn’t use it to construct Christmas Dinner. We found that restaurant eating was so good and so inexpensive in Luang Prabang that it really didn’t make sense to waste holiday time cooking. Or it’s easy to arrange for prepared food to be brought in, either from a restaurant or from a local cook.
One of the big plusses at Ban Saylom is that the owners live on site. They are on top of every little thing and quick to solve problems. Our housekeeper was a woman called Mit (pronounced MEAT) and she was terrific. She brought us a breakfast every morning (we set the time) and she cleaned the room every day. She was pleasant and enthusiastic. Our breakfast, by the way, was orange juice, eggs, a variety of breads and croissants, jam, fresh fruit and coffee/tea. But they accommodate your tastes.
The whole complex is situated on a sweeping stretch of lawn overlooking the Mekong. At one end there is a long modern infinity-style swimming pool about three lanes wide. So you can swim lengths if you want. It is deep, there is no shallow end.
The complex by the way is located in a working class area of town and you will get an eyeful of how people live as you make your way to and from the Historic Area. Local life revolves around the huge Phosey Market, to which you can walk, and where you can pick up fresh fruit or vegetables for a song.
There are regular fresh flowers in your apartment, free 4:00 p.m. drinks and treats by the pool several times a week, one day laundry service (very inexpensive), and the use of free bicycles.
In summary this location would be ideal for someone seeking peace and quiet, with a pool and luxurious accommodation.
If you want to be closer to the action, then you might prefer the Vat Nong location which is right down in the heart of the Historic Area. As I say, we were there several nights. It is a very different experience. There are three townhouse units, each with a downstairs living room and kitchen and bathroom/shower, and an upstairs bedroom with bathroom and shower. There is a balcony overlooking the street off the bedroom. You can just see the Mekong off to the left.
Being downtown these units are smaller and less luxurious than the Ban Saylom apartments but are still very spiffy. You get the same food and cleaning and bicycle arrangements, but of course there is no pool. The advantage here is that you can walk out your door at 6:00 a.m. and join the alms-giving ceremonies with the monks in a few seconds. Or just troll around town doing whatever you want. People staying here are invited to use the pool at the other location if they want, and I saw several guests doing exactly that. I assume they came by tuk tuk. (don’t pay more than 10,000 Kip per person).
My wife wants to go back to the busier downtown location, I want to return to the quieter spot. A decision must be made.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Mekong Estate lives up to its name with five stately Lao-colonial style villas, all with a stunning vista of the majestic Mekong River and mountains. Each of the property's 10 well-appointed rooms and suites has a river view, private terrace and kitchen, and is designed to be your home away from home. Founded in 2005 as the first residence service in Luang Prabang, guests get to discover a local atmosphere and home-style comfort, an experience unparalleled to staying at a hotel in town. The rooms boast ample space, light, character and charm. Spacious living extends to the outdoors with verandas, immaculate tropical gardens, a 25m long swimming pool and of course, the property's namesake river. Quite simply, we have the best view of the Mekong in Luang Prabang; watch the world drift by and let time stand still. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Mekong Estate Luang Prabang