Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao
What We Love
- Breakfast is included in the Jetsetter rate
- The infinity pool has views across a green valley to the gold stupa atop Mount Phousi
- There's a free shuttle to/from town
- The serene garden spa with its own pool and separate villas
What To Know
- A 10 percent service charge per night will be collected at the Jetsetter checkout
- It's about an eight-minute car or tuk-tuk ride into town, or a 25-minute walk ending in a steep driveway
- Hotel decor is romantic and traditional, far from trendy
- Free WiFi
- Parking On Site
This uber-romantic Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. boutique property is the perfect base for visiting the mystically beautiful town of Luang Prabang, once the royal capital of Laos, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its 32 historic temples. Set on a hillside, Belmond La Residence Phou Vao evokes the nostalgia of French Indochina. The wood-beamed two-story white stucco buildings are surrounded by gardens, pathways are strewn with frangipani and bougainvillea blossoms, and pink water lilies bloom in ponds. Guests are met on arrival with cold lemongrass-scented towels, water and snacks by a discreetly attentive staff; the result is a hotel that feels more like a home.
Bed & Bath
Guestrooms are decorated in rosewood and teak, with gleaming wood floors and white beds draped in gauzy mosquito nets. In the bathrooms there are immense green terrazzo tubs, and tall vases of tuberose perfume the air from wood vanities with double sinks. Bowls of local fruit are changed daily.
In the morning the restaurant offers French pastries, crepes, house-made yogurt and jams made from such exotic ingredients as tamarind and papaya, as well as Asian fare and a full American breakfast. Don’t miss the spicy Lao sausages. By night the poolside dining area is lit with strings of floating candles. La Residence can arrange guided tours of nearby waterfalls, boat rides up the Mekong River to caves filled with hundreds of images of the Buddha, or dawn excursions into town to offer food to monks from Luang Prabang’s temple abbeys. There are regular shuttles from the hotel into town, making it easy to shop, dine at any of the town’s surprisingly good French or Lao restaurants, and wander the sleepy streets, visit the temples or sit by the river.
In the Area
Take a pirogue up the wide Mekong to see hundreds of images of the Buddha in the caves at Pak Ou, stopping on the way back at villages to try rice whiskey and visit silk weavers. In Luang Prabang, tour the 32 historic temples, especially the 500-year-old architectural masterpiece Wat Xieng Thong, and visit the night market for silk, cotton and hill tribe crafts; don’t miss the town’s handful of high-end boutiques. For panoramic views of the historic town, climb Mount Phousi, across from the Royal Palace, which lies on a peninsula at the junction of two rivers, the Nam Khan and the Mekong.
How to Get There
Although we were in Luang Prabang near the end of a nearly 3wk vacation & were frankly pretty exhausted, we enjoyed our stay...We were in a Mountain View junior suite. We did experience a plumbing problem in the middle of the night(pipe burst) but the night staff came immediately. Probably because we were tired, we ate at the hotel instead of going out~~ Food was good, but a bit inconsistent. Service was consistently warm & friendly, as well as responsive. We especially enjoyed the cocktail cruise on the Mekong on the hotel boat with our guide.
Very torn on this place.... stayed for 5 nights.
- rooms are gorgeous, teak wood and look exactly like the pictures online. Spacious, comfy beds, etc.
- the pool area is great (again exactly as pictured online), there was always space for everyone.
- the price seems right for rooms, pool, and high quality breakfast. There are also complimentary goodies every evening at turndown - a hand fan one night (so necessary in LP because it was HOT), a notebook the next, etc - and homemade snacks left for you each night.
- Bicycles - free to use, in good working order, with covered baskets (great bc I felt my bag was safer than in an open basket). One thing they could do it put a light or reflectors on the bikes bc they were a bit dangerous to use at night - which created a little problem the evening I watched the sunset at Phu Si and then had to cycle home. Town was 5 mins away by bike on very easy routes.
- I was looking for an upscale hideaway retreat to recharge after having been traveling for nearly a month, and this was that. Very relaxed, and far enough from town to feel like another world even though as above you were 5 mins by bike.
- The restaurant food for lunch and dinner was very good, albeit quite pricey (we’re talking nice US/European restaurant prices). I had a great club sandwich, steak and pasta.
- Service is REALLY spotty - either extremely attentive or shockingly bad. On the bad side, for instance, they forgot to pick me up at the airport (and told me multiple times on the phone from the airport that the driver was “there and I just must not see him” but then told when I arrived in a taxi that they HAD NOT sent a driver at all ... so, lied to me on the phone? How long could I have stood at the airport looking for this non-existent driver?) They did give me a bottle of wine when I arrived by taxi, which was a nice gesture, but I’d have preferred not to be misled, which is much worse than if they’d simply said upfront that they forgot and apologised - a guest doesn’t forget being lied to. Another evening, I called down to reception to ask about getting a tuk tuk for the next day, was told they’d book and call me right back. I was exhausted and fell asleep waiting for the call back, which never came. The next morning, it was clear they had not gotten one. Pretty sure the guy at evening reception just put down the phone and immediately forgot our conversation.
- Both of the above turned into blessings in disguise because the other major con of this hotel is that anything “extra” outside the room cost is wildly expensive. The airport pickup was US25, while the taxi I ended up getting was LAK50,000/$5.50. The tuk tuk they eventually quoted for me was LAK250,000 for a trip to the dairy farm, and when I noted that this was significantly more expensive than riding into town on the bike and getting one there (which I did and paid LAK170,000), the man at reception just said ”yes it is”. I would expect a markup for booking from the hotel, but 50%+ is a bit shameless.
- The price gouging is most apparent when reviewing their activities. For comparison, their trip to Kuang Si was listed around US170-180 for a day trip, including the waterfall entry, beer and snacks. I cycled to town and got a tuk tuk for LAK220,000 (agreed 4 hours at the falls), bought 2 Beer Laos for LAK15,000 each each, snacks for about LAK10,000, and entry to the falls for I think LAK20,000, maybe 25,000. The USD equivalent and of that is about $32. Since I was on my own and the hotel trip required 2 passengers, let’s double it to $64. Where is the other US$100+ coming from?? I get that they need to make money, but this kind of pricing is insane. Anyone with access to the internet or a guidebook would be able to tell these “activities” are just blatant cash grabs. Other than my first day and last day when I couldn’t go to town (which has some lovely Laotian and French restaurants), I simply could not justify spending money at the hotel knowing the extent of their markup.
- At the pool, the guys were either training (in which case they need more) or just bad at their jobs - some days they’d be out immediately with a glass of water and fruit, and others they’d never come, and then even forget to bring some water when asked. One really hot day when it never came around I actually asked for it, after waiting 10mins got up and went into the restaurant to pour it myself. I also reminded the guy that had asked for water and he said “oh yes let me get that”... and then took *another* 10 mins after that to actually bring it. Asking twice and then waiting 20 mins for a simple glass of water ... that is supposed to brought around when you sit down. Again it’s like they speak to you and then the conversation just flies out the window.
Very cute boutique hotel at the edge of Luang Prabang. The hotel offers fantastic views and good facilities, especially considering it’s size. As with all Belmond hotels the service is impeccable. More surprisingly for Belmond is that the service and food and drink is reasonable.
Things to be aware of is this is out of town but Taxis and so cheap and the hotel offers a shuttle service so I don’t think this is a bad thing. Indeed it means it is very peaceful. Also Laos has a curfew and so hotel services are limited after a certain time. However would definitely recommend.