Rosewood Luang Prabang
What We Love
- Complimentary car service
- Designer Bill Bensley dedicated each room here to a famous traveler from the early 20th century
- Bottega toiletries in all guest bathrooms
- Traditional Laotian hot compress massages at the hilltop spa
What To Know
- The grounds include an organic garden, which supplies the fruits, vegetables, and herbs for the resort’s restaurant—a hat-tip to Laos’s foraging culture
- Traditional local cuisine served family-style at the hotel’s Great House
- Bamboo dancing, river fishing, and weaving classes are available for younger guests
- The oval pool here overlooks a natural waterfall
- Free WiFi
- Parking On Site
- Room Service
Choose between a riverside suite, waterfall villa, or hilltop tent at this safari-chic retreat in northern Laos from luxe resort designer Bill Bensley
This rainforest hideaway, sprawled on the outskirts of Luang Prabang, promises French Colonial grandeur, tropical trimmings, and best of all, total seclusion. With just 23 rooms scattered across a gushing Nam Dong river, the imaginative interiors here are positively Kipling-esque. Carved wall panels, silk lanterns, claw-foot bathtubs, and teak are everywhere you look, while elegant accents (like French flea market-sourced antiques and framed copies of turn-of-the-century newspapers) lend it an Instagrammable je ne sais quoi. Local culture abounds in the form of Hmong treatments at the tented spa, and the copious use of indigo, a color favored by the area’s hill tribes. Hints of its indigenous roots are also detectable at the resort’s farm-to-table restaurant, The Great House, which serves Royal Laotian fare such as sticky rice and grilled river fish with eggplant and kefir leaves in a lavish, manor-inspired space. It’s the after-hours cocktail bar, a former working bridge, that really steals the scene, where guests sip on vintage Negronis in the company of 210 hand-carved elephant statues.
In the Area
Despite its far-flung feel, the resort is just ten minutes from Luang Prabang’s dynamic historic district (the airport is about half an hour away). If the property’s on-site facilities seem light, it’s intentional. The Rosewood prides itself on an extensive menu of bespoke local excursions, ranging from meditation sessions with Buddhist monks to guided walks to the working farms of neighboring Nadueay. The concierge is happy to arrange a visit to the pottery village of Ban Jarn, where you can try your hand at vase making before hauling your ceramic creations back home.
How to Get There
We stayed at the hotel this month for three nights. I had been looking forward to it and was hoping that it was going to be as magical as Cambodia. When we arrived there were five men slouching around what is called the Concierge's desk, I thought this looked very strange. The very short story i have to tell is that the Hotel GM was nowhere to be found and it made sense why the hotel appreared rudderless. Well there was no GM. I feel after paying the hefty daily rate we should have at least been notified by Rosewood or an interim manager put in place. We saw a Thai lady once and never again. The men continued to sit around the desk on their phones and the vibe in the hotel just didnt feel right, almost like a school with no teacher present. In brief our stay was disappointing and it didnt not live up to the hype.
This is a small property with one dining room for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In front of the dining room, there is an oval shaped pool. There is no fitness or gym facilities so they send guests over next door to the Pullman at a charge. Given the high room rates, I thought it was chintzy to make guests pay again.
They only have limited rooms: king rooms, suite, room with a private plunge pool and tents. We stayed in a suite as we wanted a separate living room and more space generally. All of the other room types are just one large room with no separation.
The bedroom in our suite was beautifully decorated while the living room was a bit spartan. We didn't notice that it was connecting to another room as the door was cleverly disguised as a screen-like door. So I think it would be a great set-up for a larger party requiring connecting rooms. It seems that the suites and individual rooms are all located in a building across from the main building. There are two floors only and plenty of space to spread out. The other room types such as the tents and the rooms with plunge pools are all individual.
Even though our suite made us not want to ever leave, we had quite a few meals on the property. The French chef was always solicitous and eager to please. So we tried some wonderfully tasting Laotian food in a relaxed outdoor atmosphere.
The only quibble I have with this property is that the organized tours were not quite up to snuff. They organized a tour to the waterfall but it was with an outside vendor who merely brought us there and back but provided no explanation at all. Worse yet, the sunset boat tour that they highly recommended was a slower than molasses tour that essentially went no where. We were overtaken by everyone blasting off from one end to another while we languished in the middle of the stiffling heat. That was disappointing as we sat, for the most part, drifting in the middle of the muddy Mekong.
The Rosewood is simply the best place in SE Asia to enjoy beauty, serenity, and culture. The staff I met were so happy to talk about Laos and offer insights for a day's exploration. The Waterfall cottages are unique in design and restful. This is just a really happy place in a frenetic world. I shall be back soon.