La Résidence Phou Vao

Hotel in Northern Laos

Tropical Resort Hotel

David Harfield soaks up the stunning surroundings at La Résidence Phou Vao.

Of all the acronymised organisations in the world, UNESCO is the one that I have the most affinity with.  Sure, I have a soft spot for NASA's technology (especially when it's put to good use in memory-foam mattresses) but NATO's ethos of fighting for peace is to me as self-refuting as screaming for silence and as for the problems that my VISA credit card has gotten me into, well let's just not stroll down that darkened alley.  However, UNESCO seem genuinely intent on preserving the most beautiful parts of our world, which is why I jumped at the opportunity to visit La Résidence Phou Vao at Luang Prabang, a world heritage site in Northern Laos.  Plus, I had heard that the mattresses weren't bad, either.

My girlfriend and I arrive at the first ever hotel to be built in Luang Prabang, formerly owned by the Royal Family, and are greeted by a team of friendly staff, all eager to relieve us of the weight of our luggage and carry it to our suite on the first floor of the main building.  The balcony overlooks the vast expanse of forestry that stretches out as far as the eye can see, right up and over the distant, cloudy mountaintops.  The room itself is a decent size, its wooden floorboards leading through to the plush bathroom in which a gigantic bath is just begging to be filled with steaming water and bubbles.  We put this off until later and head down to take a dip in the infinity pool that also boasts the gorgeous forest view before sweating it out in the spa's timber and sandstone-crafted herbal steam room.

The natural beauty that surrounds the resort means that to simply have one's eyes open whilst walking around the property (which I try to do for the majority of the stay, despite the long bus journey that brought me here) is a constant delight.  However, I'm equally enamoured by the personal touches and flourishes that the boutique hotel clearly relishes.  Whether it's the adorable receptionist letting me commandeer her computer to print off boarding passes, the restaurant manager arranging for a rose to be delivered to my girlfriend at our Valentine's Day breakfast, or the cleaners sneaking into our room while we are at dinner to fold our clothes and leave us a bowl of fresh fruit and a hand-sewn necklace on the coffee table, a little goes a very long way.  Most impressive is the tireless diligence of Mr. P.V., the genial Guest Relations Manager, who can always be found either monitoring the pool from a sun bed, propping up the bar to survey the restaurant or just hanging out in the reception area, welcoming new guests.  (All of this attentiveness might be somewhat overwhelming if Mr P.V. wasn't a 3-foot tall, stuffed teddy bear.)

Phou Savanh, the hotel's locally-renowned restaurant, provides guests with delicious Eastern and Western menu; we enjoy a three-course, candlelit dinner in the evening and wake up to a splendid buffet breakfast in the morning.  Spending the afternoon in the grounds, killing time before our flight to Vietnam, we decide that the property salesman's aphorism of 'Location, location, location' has never had a more apt representation than in La Résidence Phou Vao.  Let's just hope UNESCO's moral compass doesn't go AWOL and leave the site in a bit of a SNAFU...

David Harfield is a freelance food and travel writer and the director of the social media solutions company PepperStorm Media

Photographs courtesy of Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao

Reviewer's Rating
Ambience Incredible Staff, Hidden Gem
Services Free High Speed Internet, Restaurant, Room Service, Swimming Pool, Health Spa, Conference Rooms
Cost High
Number of Rooms 32 rooms & 2 suites

Room and Suite Categories

Garden View Junior Suites; Mountain View Junior Suites; Mountain & Pool View Junior Suites (55m² / 180 ft²). Phou Vao Garden Suites (65m² / 213 ft²).

Additional Ambience Information

The sense of general tranquillity will rid you of any pre-existing stress or worries.

Last updated on 28-09-2014

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