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“Good Hotel, good location with some room for improvements”

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Belmond La Residence Phou Vao
Ranked #4 of 70 Hotels in Luang Prabang
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed January 5, 2013

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.

Room Tip: Hight floor, Mountain/Pool view rooms are the best.
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  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank travelpro2007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LRPV, Manager at Belmond La Residence Phou Vao, responded to this reviewResponded January 9, 2013

Dear Sir / Mdm,

Thank you for taking the time to share your personal observations regarding your stay at La Résidence Phou Vao. Your opinion is very valuable in helping us to maintain a high level of service to our guests.

We were delighted to learn that you enjoyed so many aspects of your stay including our views, the pool and our breakfasts, but are sorry that other elements were not to your satisfaction. We have taken note of all your comments and we can assure you that we are addressing ones that relate directly to our hotel.

Yours sincerely,

The management & team,

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323 - 329 of 765 reviews

Reviewed December 30, 2012

We stayed in July 2012 for four nights. We had one of the Garden View Suites with a large terrace in the main building. The hotel was perfect. It was small with a lovely pool and a great restaurant. The bar was so elegant one night we opted for small plates and drinks rather then venture into town. The entire staff was warm and friendly.
We traveled with our 3 year old son and the hotel was able to provide us with a crib and netting for him. The suite had two medium sized rooms and a large bathroom. The room was cleaned twice a day and it was always spotless. There was a lovely Nespresso maker in the room and lots of fresh fruit. The breakfast buffet was plentiful with a made to order crepe station as well as an a la carte hot food menu.
We did two tours with the hotel - one tour into town and one full day trip on a boat down the Mekong River. The full day boat tour was amazing - well worth the money. It was one of the highlights of our 7 week trip!
We used a babysitter in the hotel and she actually went to the local library to borrow English books and puzzles - amazing!
We spent a lot of time relaxing by the pool and enjoying the grounds. It was a perfect stay!
The spa was fabulous - I think we used it three times - great treatments and super relaxing. And the staff was so friendly!

Room Tip: It was nice to stay in the main building b/c we were close to the pool but the other buildings have...
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  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled with family
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1  Thank Stephlovestravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 23, 2012 via mobile

Extraordinary hotel, breathtaking views, warm and efficient servicgorgeus and elegant rooms. Even better with mountain view.
Not wheelchair friendly (like most of the city)
Breakfast is specially nice. It is worth to try the Lao specialties like the noodle soup they offer

  • Stayed: December 2012
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Thank reneemarbella
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 23, 2012

A four-night stay in the exotic Mekong River town of Luang Prabang was enhanced by La Residence Phou Vao. The room was comfortable, the staff exceptionally friendly and helpful, the restaurant excellent, and the setting just what one would want -- on the outskirts of the town amidst trees and ponds, with a lovely pool as centerpiece.

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled solo
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Thank PSeib
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 20, 2012

This hotel is an oasis at the edge of Luang Prabang ... close enough to be accessible yet far enough to be literally above the hustle and bustle of the town. Although this was the most expensive hotel of our entire, six-week trip (staying at many five-star hotels) throughout Southeast Asia, there is nowhere that came close in terms of personalized attention and authentic warmth from the staff--ranging from the GM to the dining room servers and bell boys. You can't fake this level of care ... and caring. When my wife arrived not feeling well and had only tea and toast for breakfast, everyone inquired about her health and offered advice and assistance.

When we wanted a lift into town, a shuttle was immediately available. When we asked a restaurant to call the hotel to pick us up, their driver came in 10 minutes. Special dietary requests, no problem. Lunch at a odd time, no problem. Late check-out, no problem. They were happy to be of service.

The property is stunning; the rooms large and lovely; and the people made it memorable.

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Howard W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LRPV, General Manager at Belmond La Residence Phou Vao, responded to this reviewResponded December 21, 2012

Dear Howard,

Thank you for your wonderful comments, which were shared with the team. I am thrilled to hear that your holidays was a resounding success and very glad that the entire the team were able to create some fantastic memories for you. we look forward to welcoming you back again soon.

With very warm regards from the entire family in Luang Prabang,


John Dopere
General Manager

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Reviewed December 19, 2012

We stayed here for 4 nights recently in a mountain view suite having previously been at another Orient Express hotel, Residence d'Angkor, in Siem Reap.

Both hotels had helpful, friendly staff and both hotels had a bathroom which needed updating and the most uncomfortable, impractical baths ever experienced in a luxury hotel.

Whereas Residence d'Angkor was relatively busy with a good atmosphere, Phou Vao had so few guests that after our first morning with a full buffet breakfast we had a limited breakfast buffet thereafter where, we eventually discovered, you had to ask for such standard items as juice, croissants and pastries.

The distance from town is also a pain- we are fit and fast walkers but it took 15 minutes to walk to town along a busy road. The same road runs alongside the perimeter of the hotel grounds and traffic can be heard from the room in the morning. Yes, you can use the shuttle but this ran only hourly in the evening so it was quicker to just walk back after dinner.

We have had the good fortune to stay at luxury hotels throughout the world, including a number of other Orient Express Hotels. In our opinion, this hotel is outrageously overpriced for what it offers and considering it is in a country with such a low cost of living. For example, a small beer at the hotel costs over US$8 compared with $1 to $2 for a large beer in town. Our recommendation would be to stay at the Mekong Riverview Hotel- we had lunch there on the riverside terrace a couple of times with lovely food and good value. The hotel itself was in a quiet but central location and looked very nice.

The town of Luang Prabang was great for our length of stay.

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank Frank15
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LRPV, General Manager at Belmond La Residence Phou Vao, responded to this reviewResponded December 21, 2012

Dear Frank15,

Thank you for taking the time to share your personal observations regarding your recent stay at La Résidence Phou Vao.

I am very sorry with fully understand - and respect - your point of view, and sincerely regret that your stay at the La Résidence Phou Vao did not live up to your expectations.

As is stated on our website, we are not in the busy centre of Luang Prabang. Our location remains very much untouched by mass tourism and allows our guests to really escape the mad buzz of urban life. We offer our guests both sides of Luang Prabang: easy access to the centre plus a feel for rural life. Therefore, we have provided shuttle service for all day as per the schedule.

Additionally, regarding to our food and beverage prices, I could confirm that they are comparable to (and in some cases actually less expensive) than other five star hotels in Luang Prabang.

I do hope you will have the opportunity to visit Luang Prabang soon again and I will take personally pride in showing you the improvements. Please do contact me directly in order to take care of your booking next time.

Warms regards,

John Dopere
General Manager

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Reviewed December 17, 2012

We decided to return to this hotel in November at the end of a holiday having stayed there appx 2 years ago, when we had an amazing experience with exceptional service from both the Hotel staff and management.
When we booked we advised that we were returning clients and asked for the same room. Upon check in the staff were very polite but had no knowledge of our previous stay, although in the back ground a manager said she did know but said nothing else not even a welcome! Our request for the same room was not fulfilled and no apology given. Whilst the staff during our stay were very polite and efficient, not once did the management speak to us or ask if everything was OK. They did though find the time to talk at length to a group of visiting travel agents during which the level of service in the hotel notably changed.
The hotel is in a lovely location and the pool, restaurant and bar are beautiful. We stayed in a Mountain pool room suite which has amazing views but the bathrooms especially are now showing their age a little.
It was such a shame that we had such an average experience in the hotel not the VSOE experience we have encountered elsewhere, as Luang Prabang is such a beautiful place it would have been so easy for the Management with a little effort to have made it truly memorable yet again.

Room Tip: Mountain pool room suites have the best view,
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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank W B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LRPV, General Manager at Belmond La Residence Phou Vao, responded to this reviewResponded December 21, 2012

Dear WB,

Thank you for taking the time to share your personal observations regarding your stay at La Résidence Phou Vao.

It is unfortunate that your stay with us did not match up to your previous visit. I had understood that you had been advised the room you requested was not available due to urgent maintenance work. Therefore, I apologies that it had not been clearly explained.

Additionally, I am very glad to hear that you have enjoyed the views and the location of our hotel.

I certainly hope that your future plans to visit Laos include La Résidence Phou Vao, because the only thing better than welcoming you, is welcoming you back.

Warms regards,

John Dopere
General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Belmond La Residence Phou Vao

Address: Luang Prabang 84330, Laos
Phone Number:
Location: Laos > Luang Prabang Province > Luang Prabang
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Business Hotel in Luang Prabang
#1 Spa Hotel in Luang Prabang
#1 Romantic Hotel in Luang Prabang
#1 Family Hotel in Luang Prabang
#1 Top resorts Hotel in Luang Prabang
#3 Luxury Hotel in Luang Prabang
Price Range: $384 - $780 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Belmond La Residence Phou Vao 5*
Number of rooms: 34
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

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