This was once a French colonial hospital, built in the early 1900s for officers suffering from malaria and other ailments. It has been converted with enormous style. The long wards are now elegant suites set around a rectangular pool and huge lawn. The low buildings have Oriental terracotta roofs. Long white porticoes stretch in front of rows of French windows, shuttered and painted in khaki. Much of the furniture is of ruddy teak from Vientiane, but sadly there is little manufacture in Laos, and the wicker chairs, ceramic dinnerware and the rest have to be imported. Nevertheless, the essential style is minimalist oriental, and very beautiful it is. The visionary who recreated this venue as a sublime hotel is the Amanresort founder Adrian Zecha who, despite being nearly 80, has just bought back his chain from an Indian real estate company. It is often good news when creative intelligence and the ideal of service take over from the bean-counters. Amantaka is, of course, expensive, but on our three-day visit was truly wonderful. Included in the room price were a Baci welcome ceremony, a half-day walking tour of the city, a private Lao dinner for two, with wine, in the little terrace behind our suite, a one-hour Lao massage, a Mekong river cruise in a private barge, use of a private car and driver, and lectures on Lao arts and ethnology, gold leaf stencilling and gold thread embroidery, and rising at 5 am to offer glutinous rice to passing monks. There were no extras whatsoever, other than a legitimate charge for laundry; no hidden surprises, such as charges for wifi or deck chairs and towels. This was exceptional stress free hospitality. Some months ago a Tripadvisor reviewer commented on aspects of service; it seemed to me that all these had now been resolved. This is a fine hotel in one of the world's finest chain of boutique hotels.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Set on a large garden estate, Amantaka is housed in graceful French colonial buildings in the UNESCO protected town of Luang Prabang. Airy and elegant throughout, the décor and furnishings reflect the town's French colonial history. Situated just south of Phousi Hill, the resort is within strolling distance of the boutiques, bakeries and restaurants lining the town's main street. The fabled night market, the picturesque banks of the Mekong River and the former Royal Palace are also nearby. ... more less
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