We came to Laos for the New Year celebration and stayed at La Residence Phou Vao. We were surprised by how westernized and very expensive Laos is now. It seems we missed the "non-touristy" time of Luang Prabang. It was still nice to see it. It reminded us a bit of Hoi An in Vietnam, but more expensive.
La Residence Phou Vao is located outside the main part of downtown Luang Prabang, but is still in the city with city noises like barking dogs, chickens, traffic, ongoing construction, and “partying” from neighboring properties. It is about a 15 minute walk to the main area downtown. Very easy walk. Taking tuk tuks is easy too.
We arrived from a week at an Aman resort and were shocked back into “city” reality with the surrounding neighborhood noises. The property and views are lovely. The rooms are on the smaller side, and in much need of refurbishment. Especially the bathrooms. We stayed in a “mountain/pool view suite” on the 2nd floor. These are the best rooms. There is a door to the bathroom, but the bathroom privacy is compromised as there is a large opening from the bathroom to the bedroom area. You will see/hear bathroom activity. The bathrooms have one sink, no shower door, and wood countertops. There was a note on the countertop asking guests to try and not spill cosmetics on the wood. The balconies are large and comfortable. You are separated from neighboring balconies by a partial wall and lattice. Not completely private and sometimes annoying due to neighboring activity. The pool is lovely and welcoming after a day walking around Luang Prabang, which can be dusty and hot. The breakfast buffet is delicious and abundant. The dinners were “so-so”. Also very pricey. Actually everything about the hotel is very expensive. After staying at several other Orient Express properties around the world, we don’t think this property lives up to the Orient Express brand and value. We paid approximately $750 USD per night including tax. We thought the price for the value we received should be between $300-400 USD per night.
Also, we were not informed of any airport transfer with the hotel. We never received a consistent answer so we paid for the taxi ride. In addition, the airport does not give the best exchange rate. This hotel will give you the best exchange rate possible. One thing to note with this hotel is that the flight path is directly over the hotel and was a bit annoying while relaxing by the pool. We found that clear accurate communication in English with Laotians is often difficult at both high end establishments and on the street. Expect this in advance.
If you come during the holiday and winter season, make sure to book any activity in advance of arrival. Including spa appointments. There were some activities we missed out on due to not knowing in advance the need for better planning during this period. If you can, try to come to Luang Prabang any other time than the Christmas break. It is very crowded, prices are high, and you may not be able to organize all your desired activities/experiences during this time period.
La Residence Phou Vao is a well-established hotel in a good location with potential for improvements. With preparation and a little effort you will have an enjoyable stay.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Positioned atop a hill, gazing across the sacred mountains, Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao is an unforgettable place to stay. Its calm, tranquil ambiance echoes that of sleepy World Heritage town of Luang Prabang - former royal capital of Laos - spread out below. Designed in a traditional style, this intimate hotel is gemmed with teak, silk and fresh cotton accents. The hotel's Phou Savanh restaurant is famed for its wonderful French-influenced local cuisine while Doc Champa bar offers guests a range of Laotian and classic cocktails. The award-winning Mekong Spa blends ancient techniques with modern understanding to ensure complete indulgence and well-being and is the first luxury spa in Luang Prabang, Laos. Furthermore the hotel offers a gym, boutique, tours & excursion desk, meeting room and organic garden with cooking class area. The hotel's 34 suites are elegantly furnished with emphasis on local styles and materials. The combination of parquet and traditional Lao textiles creates an immediate sense of peace and space in all suites. Large windows provide plenty of natural light and open onto the exotic gardens. A conveniently arranged terrace offers privacy, comfort and tranquility. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- La Residence Phou Vao By Orient-Express Hotel Luang Prabang
- La Residence Phou Vao Hotel
- La Residence Phou Vao Resort