Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao, Laos A Review

08 November 2016 / By travel4foodfun@gmail.com
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We decided to get off the beaten tourist track and spend a few days exploring Luang Prabang.  During our visit to this UNESCO World Heritage town, we stayed at Belmond La Residence Phou Vao.

Our Arrival Experience:

The Belmond brand boasts hotel properties that embody the locale.  We enjoy this and appreciate what Belmond does. 

The Belmond La Residence Phou Vao is one of the most exclusive properties in Luang Prabang.  We arranged for airport transfers at a cost of $25 each way for a 10-minute trip.  Most exclusive hotels provide luxury vehicles and upscale treats for airport transportation.  The Belmond’s shuttle picked us up and offered us cookies. We don’t mind paying the price because it offers great convenience and service. However, we just expected something a little more in line with what other Belmont properties offer.

Location:

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The hotel is situated atop a hill overlooking Luang Prabang and the majestic Mount Phousi. The daytime view is picturesque with stunningly brilliant green foliage covered at times by an almost mystical fog that rolls in and out with the rain (our visit coincides with the rainy season). The evening view is equally lovely with the city lights illuminating from below and beyond into the distance.  The Belmond is approximately 1 mile from the city center and 2 miles from the airport.  Although the property is not in the tourist center, a shuttle is available to transport guests into town.  And since we are essentially the only guests (we stayed during the last weeks of the low season), it’s almost like we have our own car service.  

Property:

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The hotel is due for some renovations.  However, the grounds are gorgeous.  The view from the main pool is lovely with the magnificent Mount Phou Si in the background.  Lush greenery abounds in Laos and the hotel property is no different.  One of my favorite things to do at the hotel is wandering the pathways and appreciate the beautiful landscaping.  It is the perfect place to meditate-amongst all of nature’s beauty.

Rooms:

This is where the property feels dated.  The furniture is well used, but at least everything is clean and maintained.  I’ve heard of flushing toilets affecting shower temperatures.  Unfortunately, this visit is my first time experiencing this phenomenon. My shower water went from pleasantly warm to scalding hot.  This is not something I expect from a luxury property.

Dining:

Normally, the hotel offers a complimentary breakfast buffet that supplements a la carte entrees. However, being the only (or almost only) guests, the buffet was open only once during our three-night stay.  This is completely understandable and we are glad the management didn’t unnecessarily waste food on us!

The breakfast options include Laotian and Western specialties.  The Lao noodle soup was my go-to breakfast.  I particularly enjoyed the iced coffee and local honey served with toast.  Tom and I were exhausted one evening and dined at the hotel restaurant that night.  We sampled the papaya salad and fish curry with sticky rice.  Both dishes are tasty.  However, as always we recommend going into town and trying authentic Lao cuisine at the night market or local restaurants.

My favorite dining experience is actually a snack offered with cocktails.  Crispy bamboo and mushroom chips are unique and tasty treats that I crave to this day.

Activities:

The property offers daily afternoon excursions.  One day, Tom and I took advantage of this and visited the nearby artisan community.  We saw silk being made and then weaved into gorgeous scarves and wall art pieces.

One day, Tom and I hiked for four hours in the jungle.  Our sore muscles required TLC at the Mekong Spa.  We splurged for a 90 minute Lao massage.  The treatment soothed our aches. Definitely, take advantage of the deep tissue treatment.

Our tips:

Luang Prabang is an amazing city that maintains its’ authenticity.  Tourism is growing, but the city is still rustic and charming.  Because of this, there are very few luxury hotel properties.  The noteworthy trade-off is visiting the city before it becomes overrun chain hotels and tour buses.

Belmond La Residence Phou Vao’s staff is fantastic and definitely in line with luxury property standards.  The complimentary shuttle service is a definite bonus.  Our driver assisted us in finding a reputable in-town laundry service. Also, our visit coincided with Luang Prabang’s Boat Racing festival.  Our driver took us to a “local’s” spot to view the race.  In addition, the most special tradition of the festival is the giving of alms.  We were taken to the best place to view this incredible event.  Touches such as these are why Belmond is a great place to consider when planning a trip to Luang Prabang, Laos.

Virtuoso Amenities  

For 2019:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Full breakfast daily for up to two in-room guests
  • A complimentary 50-minute massage for up to two people, per room, once during stay
  • One-way private airport transfer airport to the hotel
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

Relax! Contact us and we could help make it easier for you to travel along with many Virtuoso upgrades/amenities!

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Blog Comments

We stayed at this hotel late Dec 2015 and were very disappointed – mold in the bathroom, stained duvet on the bed, and a dismissive attitude from hotel management. I think the Aman property is the only true luxury experience in Luang Prabang.

We understand it’s difficult to find “luxury” in Luang Prabang. Unfortunately, we did not have the opportunity to visit or tour the Aman since they did not respond to our request for an on-site visit.

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