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Reviewed February 11, 2013

Some hotels age gracefully. Others are allowed to sink into decrepitude. The Elephant Crossing Hotel's course has not been clearly charted yet; it seems its owners haven't decided which of these two paths to follow. Meanwhile, they can rely on past glory and the location of the hotel to attract guests and charge room rates that are becoming difficult to justify. Speaking of aging, according to the hotel's website, The Elephant Crossing Hotel is a new boutique hotel. I beg to differ: it is neither new, nor boutique.

We stayed in two different room types: a standard twin (350.000 kip) and a deluxe twin (400.000 kip). Oddly, the more expensive rooms are located on the lower floors, while the less expensive rooms are higher up and have a better view of the river and the mountains. Which rooms are available depends very much on the tour groups that come and go and form the bulk of the hotel guests.

Other differences between standard and deluxe rooms: standard rooms are smaller and have a stand-up shower, as opposed to a bath with a shower. Our standard room also featured a few older appliances than the deluxe room we had occupied earlier: a tv of which most channels had very poor picture quality and an air conditioning unit that was past its retirement age, did not manage to cool the room and after some time started to drip ferociously, leading us to switch it off altogether. Wifi was available in the early mornings but refused to work during the rest of the day. There were, however, fairly new bathroom fixtures.

These inconveniences were reflected in what we saw throughout the hotel: maintenance and renovation seem to be carried out as stop-gap measures. There were signs of (reluctant, poorly executed) maintenance, but apparently only to fix whatever had become impossible to ignore.

The restaurant, overlooking the river, could be idyllic. But as soon as a handful of tables were occupied the staff panicked, began to run around in different directions, switched their attention to anything new that came up while they were doing something else and, with typical Lao inefficiency, got absolutely nothing done.

The hotel sells bus tickets. We asked about VIP bus tickets to Vientiane, and were quoted 70.000 kip per person. We then bought our tickets from a travel agent for 40.000 kip each. Also, the hotel sells bottles of Villa Maipo wine for 150.000 kip a bottle. The shop next door sells the same wine for 90.000 per bottle.

So why would anyone stay here? Well, there is the location, which is excellent. And a balcony that overlooks the river is nice. But many other hotels are on the river and have excellent views. There is a certain charm as expressed for instance by the hardwood floors. There are the beds and mattresses, some of the best we have slept on. Those who come as part of a tour group simply stay here because this is where rooms have been booked for them. Many people stay only one or two nights and are probably more than happy with the view. As for us, we ended up staying for as many as five nights because we were not sufficiently disgruntled to look for another place to stay. The Elephant Crossing Hotel is not yet at a point of no return. But when we come back to Vang Vieng, which we surely will, we are likely to stay somewhere else, because there must be better value for money there.

Date of stay: February 2013
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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Thank richard747
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed February 10, 2013

This is a lovely hotel with an amazing view of the limestone mountains that offers dining right on the river. We were a bit worried about Vang Vieng, having seen videos on YouTube of backpackers swigging whisky and recklessly dive-bombing from rope swings into the shallow river. But the government closed the bars last year and town seems to have quieted down.

Date of stay: January 2013
  • Trip type: Traveled with friends
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Thank pelmerdewitt
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed February 8, 2013

We arrived in time for dinner and left the next day after breakfast, so this was perfect for us. Can't say much about the town or the attractions, but for one overnight stay, it was really great. The room was clean and comfortable, but, as many others have said, one of the nicest things about this small hotel is its location on the Nom Sok River with really breath-taking views of the limestone karats in the distance. Dinner and the buffet breakfast was in the open air right on the water and the food was quite good. The servers were young, enthusiastic and eager to please. Nothing fancy, but very comfortable and down-to-earth.

Room tip: I was traveling with friends but had my own room on the second floor -- nice for the view.
Date of stay: January 2013
  • Trip type: Traveled with friends
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Thank Deborah R
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed February 8, 2013

The Elephant Crossing is not a luxury hotel but our room was well fitted out, clean and comfortable. The air-conditioning, hot water and bathroom fixtures all worked perfectly so I don't understand some recent critical reviews. Wifi was available in the lobby and on the terrace but we found that it also worked in our room. The highlight, of course, is the fantastic view of the river and karsts from the balcony. As the light changed throughout the day, so did the colours of the limestone outcrops.

We had dinner on the terrace beside the river and were impressed by the Lao dishes that we tried. Breakfast the next morning offered a variety of choices and wonderfully strong Lao coffee. The town of Vang Vieng did not do much for us but the scenic beauty made our one night stay worthwhile. The Elephant Crossing Hotel was certainly a good choice.

Date of stay: February 2013
Trip type: Traveled as a couple
Thank JWDB
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed February 6, 2013

My wife and I stayed for only one night at The Elephant Crossing Hotel in Vang Vieng, because we were on our way to Luang Prabang and had already booked our accommodation there. We could happily have stayed longer at The Elephant Crossing Hotel because our lovely big balcony room had a view of the river and the cliffs beyond. We ate dinner in the hotel restaurant that's situated right above the river, and for the first time in our experience the food was as good as the view. Breakfast the next morning was included in the price of the room, and included a nice freshly cooked omelette, plus fruit juice, fruit, bread and tea or coffee.

Room tip: Make sure you get a balcony room with a view of the river
Date of stay: February 2013
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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    • Cleanliness
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Thank Don R
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
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