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“Converted prison still needs more light”

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Sofitel Luang Prabang Hotel
Ranked #4 of 69 Hotels in Luang Prabang
Certificate of Excellence
shenzhen china
Level Contributor
43 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“Converted prison still needs more light”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 14, 2013

Let's start with the nice things and get this off on a positive note....Arriving after dark with the huge central gardens gently illuminated was a pleasant experience and made you feel very comfortable. Eating breakfast in the garden was fabulous particularly the Lao specialities. Service from the hotel staff was also really nice, relaxed, attentive but not intrusive. The driver from their sister hotel in town was a great chauffer (as long as you spoke Chinese which we do) and the dinners at the sister hotel were also great and a great location.

Now the main thing that was a bit less impressive. We stayed in one of the two largest rooms, and they are big with a shower really big enough to swing a cat in. But they were so dark with no windows onto the front courtyard and small windows on the back that were of little use. If you're a fan of bright airy rooms this is not the place for you. The reasons for this strange architecture became clear after a couple days...why is there a high wall round the place? what are those things in the corner that look out towers? Well they were look out towers and it turns out this was Luang Prabang prison some years ago and before that the billet for the French troops.

It's a bit out of town so the hotel car service is useful but when we arrived at the airport with the car service booked for some reason he'd gone back to the hotel without us. We were told that someone at the airport told him we'd already taken a taxi into town which seemed a bit of a weird excuse. Anyway they gave us a complementary transfer back to the airport in the vintage Citroen which was a nice touch till there was a loud bang from the rear of the car and we ground to a halt and the new Honda had to make the rest of the trip.

Oh and check if there are any weddings planned at the place next door when you are staying...and if there are get a room away from that side. Deafeningly loud bad Lao pop singing is nothing to doze off to.

The town is a really nice place to relax and if I went back I'd definitely stay in the town, there looked to be lots of nice small guest houses.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank foreverbrightchina
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ManagerHotel1, Manager at Sofitel Luang Prabang Hotel, responded to this review, March 11, 2015
Dear foreverbrightchina,

Thank you for your review.

We are happy to see that the garden and the traditional Lao breakfast suited you.

Concerning the light. The hotel is UNESCO protected so unfortunately we cannot make bigger windows. But we are happy to announce you that the hotel will be renovated this year and we will work on lights.

There is some celebrations either official or private all around Laos. We cannot really interfere as the law authorizes noise till midnight. But in case a guest is disturbed by those celebrations, we offer another room. It is very easy as we have two buildings.

We hope to see you again in Luang Prabang,

Best regards,

Pablo Barruti

We hope to see you again
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547 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (106)
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English first
Weybridge, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
211 reviews
114 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 209 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 13, 2013

The Hotel de la Paix as the name suggests is a former prison on the outskirts of Luang Prabang. With its high walls and watch towers this is obvious as you approach the hotel. However the layout of the former prison lends itself well to a luxury, boutique hotel. With the bedrooms running around a large courtyard, the hotel is very quiet and a good retreat from the hustle and bustle of Luang Prabang. In the courtyard there are sunken gardens, the swimming pool and sun loungers.

The hotel has clearly been designed by a man with its focus on black, white and grey. This even extends to the hotel swimming pool which has black tiles, which is unusual for hotel swimming pools. It does mean that seeing into the pool and the bottom is not as easy as with other colours, however a word of warning, when my children in their googles explored the bottom of the pool it did not appear to be very clean.

My party consisted of my wife and I and our two teenage children.We stayed in two adjacent rooms - they do not have interconnecting rooms. The rooms are a good size with high ceilings. As others have remarked the rooms are not bright and airy, so lights are generally required on at most times. The rooms are very stylishly presented - again the hand of a male designer is evident as the rooms have been designed for appearance rather than necessarily practicality - minimalist with again a focus on a black and grey palette. The floors are dark stone.

The beds were extremely comfortable - indeed my wife suggested that she would like to take the bed home. All the beds had mosquito nets, which were closed every night, though there was a bit of a challenge to get them completely closed with no gaps. We didn't have a problem in the bedroom with mosquito bites, however they are clearly about (as you would expect) as we found out in the night market.

The bathrooms are cleverly designed to be part of the rooms but also outside.There are separate lockable doors to where the separate bath and showers can be found, with no wall separating the bathing area from the private garden. The showers have both rain shower and conventional heads.

Free wifi is available throughout the hotel.

Breakfast is served in the courtyard. There is no buffet, so for those who like to fill up on a large hotel breakfast to start the day this may not be the ideal hotel particularly as the food is served with style rather than quantity. Fortunately the weather was dry for our stay as it is not obvious where breakfast could be served if it is raining.

The hotel is allegedly a fifteen minute walk from the main street in Luang Prabang, however given the climate it may not be advisable to make that walk, though it would be safe to do so. The hotel can arrange tuk-tuks which should not be more than USD1 per person or around $3 for a smaller party.

The hotel has bicycles which can be borrowed for free, One day we cycled into Luang Prabang and that was a lovely, liberating experience.

The hotel will pick up and drop off guests at no charge from the airport which is no more than a fifteen minute drive away. Indeed the planes do fly low directly over the hotel, however as we weren't in the hotel during the day this wasn't an issue.

The staff were friendly, warm and couldn't do enough for you. They are a credit to the hotel.

The Hotel de la Paix is a stylish, wonderful boutique hotel and I would highly recommend it, however should I return I might consider staying in one of the hotels in town, though that would be a different experience from the oasis that is the Hotel de la Paix.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Sayer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ManagerHotel1, Manager at Sofitel Luang Prabang Hotel, responded to this review, March 11, 2015
Dear Sayer,

Thank you very much for your detailed review. It is very complete.

The hotel is a unique UNESCO World Heritage protected site. It has been built in 1900s as the French Governor Mansion. Then, as you mentioned, it was a jail for a moment.

We hope to welcome you again soon

Pablo Barruti
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Beijing, China
Level Contributor
28 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 3, 2013

We stayed here with our two children ages 6 & 8.

The hotel was very accommodating with us as they had limited rooms. We ended up with a large room with two extra beds for the children which worked well. The room itself is very dark due to the lack of windows, this used to be a prison and is now listed so they are unable to add more, which is a shame as we were literally bumping into each other!

The breakfast I thought was very average, we were not aware that we could order eggs benedict or similar until our last day! No explanation or menu was given to us?

The pool area is nice, the children enjoyed swimming most afternoons after we had finished exploring the town.

This wasn't our first choice in LP as it is a little out of town, we did use the hotels bikes one day which was fine but ideally it would be better to be closer. As someone else mentioned it is a little eerie and lacking any atmosphere.

The staff were always extremely helpful and we used their babysitting service one night too which was fine. On the whole a nice stay but if I was to choose again it would be somewhere in town with a bit more character and atmosphere.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
1 Thank SG1912
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kevin M O, General Manager at Sofitel Luang Prabang Hotel, responded to this review, March 9, 2013
Thank you for taking the time to share your comments and observations following your recent stay at our Hotel de la Paix.

It's disappointing about the lack of natural light in the larger rooms but as you so correctly pointed out, under the auspices of UNESCO and as a World Heritage town, we were not allowed to alter the main exterior to any of the building as it must seem to remain as originally intended, a prison. We assigned that room to you as it really is better suited than the others to accommodate 2 extra beds.

I was very disappointed to read about your challenges at Breakfast, especially as we under the now mistaken belief that were getting it right. As to why you never received a menu baffles me and I have already addressed this issue with our Food and Beverage team. You referred to eggs benedict which surprised me too. Yes, we used to have that on the Breakfast menu, but it received so many negative comments that I withdrew it some 6 months ago. Anyway, thank you for highlighting your dissatisfaction with the breakfast as clearly we still have much work to do.

I was glad to read that the kids enjoyed the pool and that in general the services we provided met with your approval. I was happy to note your kind comments about the staff whuch I will highlight in our next Employee Recognition day.

I take your point regarding the location of our property and this seems to be regarded as the biggest shortcoming of the Hotel. Sometimes I wish there was something that I could do abiut that but conversely, we get many visitors who like the fact that we slightly "out of the way"

Thank you again for taking the time to write a review and should your travels ever bring you back to Luang Prabang, don't hesitate to let us know if we can be of help to you. Until such time, I remain,

With all good wishes,

Kevin M. O'Hagan
General Manager

gm@hoteldelapaixlp.com
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
45 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 1, 2013 via mobile

Loved the hotel de la paix. The staff were attentive, the rooms large and so comfortable. The breakfast is good and the pool large.I only stayed for one night here but wish I could have stayed much longer. I would definitely return.

  • Stayed February 2013
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank leebabes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kevin M O, General Manager at Sofitel Luang Prabang Hotel, responded to this review, March 9, 2013
Thank you for taking the time to share your comments and observations following your recent stay at our Hotel de la Paix.

I was very pleased to note that our product and services measured up to your expectations and very much look forward to the opportunity of welcoming you back in the not too distant future. If we can help in terms of making a reservation for you, please don't hesitate to let us know. Until that time, I remain,

With all good wishes,

Kevin M. O'Hagan
General Manager

gm@hoteldelapaixlp.com
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Milan, Italy
Level Contributor
69 reviews
35 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 196 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 28, 2013

Stayed at this hotel for 2 nights and then decided to find another accommodatiion nearer to town. Perhaps we expected too much after reading the high ratings given on TA by many travellers, but found the De La Paix a little eerie, very plain, all rooms opening onto a huge court, a sad place. The room itself was large, not too comfortable with an outside shower and tub so you were good "food" for the mosquitos which afflicted the whole place: we experienced many problems with them, we had to use the spray all the time. Mosquitos were also another reason for leaving. Breakfast was average, not on buffet but on order which might sound more interesting but only if staff is well trained and understands your wishes, very large swimming pool, Decisively not our dream place.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank tipitina
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kevin M O, General Manager at Sofitel Luang Prabang Hotel, responded to this review, March 9, 2013
Thank you for taking the trouble to write and share your comments and observations following your recent stay at our Hotel de la Paix.

I really don't know what I can say except that I am saddened to learn of your disappointing experiences with us and I only wish that I had known of this at the time. Hotels can't be all things to all people and as I don't know what you were expecting, it's very hard for me to comment further.

I do hope that you managed to find an alternative Hotel which measured up to your expectations and that you enjoyed the remainder of your stay and the beauty/mystery that is Luang Prabang.

Thank you again for sharing your thoughts and I remain,

With all good wishes,

Kevin M. O'Hagan
General Manager

gm@hoteldelapaixlp.com
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 22, 2013

My fiance`and I were supposed to stay at Three Nagas but something happened with our reservation and we did not have a room reserved when we arrived. (We had experienced some prior problems with our flights and food sickness that day so when we learned this, we were very frustrated since it was in the height of tourist season and there weren't any open rooms.) The manager at Three Nagas, Wannaseth, arranged for us to stay at the sister location, Hotel De La Paix, since Three Nagas was full. While at first this seemed like it was going to be too far outside the main part of the city (we very much like to stay in close walking distance to the action), it ended up being a very enjoyable experience. (It's actually not too far at all.) It was quiet and the staff was very nice and helpful, especially since I am a photographer and wanted tips on where to go. The manager of Three Nagas compensated for the mix-up by treating us to dinner at the Three Nagas restaurant so we were able to enjoy the experience of that hotel too. They provided a taxi for us for this dinner and also to the airport. I was very impressed with the customer service from this manager and want to thank him for his hospitality. Mistakes happen and it is more what someone does in this instance that shows their integrity and character as a person than the actual chain of events. (I'm not even sure it was a mistake on the hotel's end -- it may have been something with Expedia not sending out our confirmation. ???) Anyway, I would highly recommend others stay at either of these hotels.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Amy S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kevin M O, General Manager at Sofitel Luang Prabang Hotel, responded to this review, March 9, 2013
Thank you for taking the time to share your comments and observations following your recent stay at our Hotel de la Paix.

For our part, we were very happy that whole Luang Prabang experience for you and your husband was a positive one. As you quite correctly pointed out, mistakes can happen and to be honest, I still don't understand where the error came from.

We are very proud to have Khun Wannaseth as a senior member of our Management team and it is through his commitment to Customer Satisfaction that we felt confident to put him in charge at the 3 Nagas. I will take great pride in sharing this review with him so that he can see, first hand, just how much his efforts contributed to the success of your holiday.

Thank you again for taking the time to share this and recommend our services: I guess coming from the US, a return trip in the near future is probably unlikely, but should that time come and you plan to return to Luang Prabang, please feel free to contact us so that we can take care of your reservation directly (to avoid any mistakes). Until such time, I remain,

With all good wishes,

Kevin M. O'Hagan
General Manager,

gm@hoteldelapaixlp.com
Report response as inappropriate
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Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 21, 2013

My wife and I stayed 3 nights at Hotel de la Paix in February 2013. Pickup at the airport was smooth, and on arrival at the hotel we were delighted to receive an upgrade to a corner suite with private pool. The room was very comfortable, with a super comfy bed, lots of space and a luxurious bathroom that opened out to the fresh air. We also sneaked a peek at one of the "regular" rooms, which seemed to have similar amenities to the suite. The hotel's local staff were incredibly friendly, and went above and beyond to make our stay a memorable one. They aren't the slickest hotel crew we've experienced, but couldn't be faulted for genuine friendliness and desire to help and please - which to us is the most important thing. Breakfast was not over-the-top spectacular, but lots of fresh fruit, good quality omelettes 'to order' and plenty of bread and pastries. We didn't try the restaurant at night, preferring to eat in town, but the courtyard setting was very beautiful. The pool in the courtyard was large and luxurious, and the whole hotel setting is an extremely relaxing place to unwind. The Spa looked very relaxing, but was expensive relative to other options in the centre of the city. We used bikes from the hotel to cycle into and around town (free of charge), which was great since the hotel is about 15 mins walk from the centre of the city, although the bikes were probably a little on the "old and rusty" side for a hotel of this quality and price - maybe time for an upgrade. All in all, for the price we paid, given the very high quality of the hotel, and the fact it is located in such a magical place as Luang Prabang, we would rate this as one of the best hotel experiences we have had. Would recommend to anyone looking for a few days or luxury R&R in a beautiful and romantic Asian city.

Room Tip: All rooms appear to be of equal quality.
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Andrew R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kevin M O, General Manager at Sofitel Luang Prabang Hotel, responded to this review, March 9, 2013
Thank you for taking the time to share your comments and observations following your recent stay at our Hotel de la Paix.

Your comments were very positive which made for enjoyable reading and the "not so good" aspects were still acceptable. I was especially pleased to note your comments concerning that attitude and friendliness of or staff: it just goes to show that a positive attitude can make up for some shortcomings. I note too the comments regarding the bicycles that we provide: you are absolutely correct in that they have seen better days and I can confirm that they are scheduled to be replaced this year.

The quality of the breakfast is still short of where we want it to be: Since your review, I can confirm that we now have a new Chef on board and the Breakfast quality is high on his agenda. I wish you had tried our Spa but I accept, that in terms of pricing, there are many less expensive options available in town. Our Spa was in fact listed in the top 10 Asian Hotel Spa operations earlier this year and I am proud to say that we have a good reputation for our treatments throughout the town.

Overall, I was very pleased that our product and services measured up to your expectations and we do hope that should your travels bring you back to Luang Prabang, you would consider using our property again. Until that time, I remain,

With all good wishes,

Kevin M. O'Hagan
General Manager,

gm@hoteldelapaixlp.com
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sofitel Luang Prabang Hotel

Property: Sofitel Luang Prabang Hotel
Address: Ban Mano, Luang Prabang 0600, Laos
Phone Number:
Location: Laos > Luang Prabang Province > Luang Prabang
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 69 Hotels in Luang Prabang
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:5 star — Sofitel Luang Prabang Hotel 5*
Number of rooms: 25
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Once the French Governor's Fort, the "all-suite" Sofitel Luang Prabang now oozes colonial style and splendour fused with contemporary elegance in one of the finest resorts in the region. Situated on a heritage site in the former royal capital of Laos, the hotel is close to the major tourist attractions. Large courtyards, landscaped gardens, a reflecting pool and fireplaces provide a welcome retreat in all seasons. Individually designed suites create sanctuaries of private space and sumptuous comfort, revitalising the soul. Natural LeSpa therapies and gourmet dining at the Governor's Grill capture the essence of Laos, drawing on its culinary and wellness traditions. ... more   less 
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