Destination Guide

Luang Prabang

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A designated UNESCO World Heritage site, Luang Prabang is the former royal capital of Laos and abounds with cultural sites, including some thirty temples, called wats.

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Reflection in Pool - Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao, Luang Prabang, Laos

Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao

The best, most destination-specific resorts have a soul one can feel as soon as one steps onto the property—and this is especially true at La Résidence. Folded into nearly five acres of gorgeous gardens, the hotel is located on the edge of town on an elevated perch with prime views of the gilded top of Mount Phou Si. The main building opens onto a sizeable swimming pool, surrounded by a deck and poolside restaurant, as well as a bar/lounge area, which is great for pre-dinner cocktails.

Several of the best suites are also housed here thanks to the prime views (note that the pool area is right beneath these suites). La Résidence’s thirty-four rooms are scattered throughout the main building, as well as in French-Colonial houses that run down a hillside. Request rooms depending on how close you want to be located to the main hub, where breakfast area, pool, lounge and library are located. The ones furthest down the hill feel the most private.

To give an idea of how special the lush setting is: there are 20 gardeners and 3 full-time florists on staff, and each year the property harvests more than 100 kg of mangoes. (Tamarind, jackfruit and a variety of other fruits, vegetables and exotic plants are also grown here.) Yoga is offered daily at the serene spa (which has eight treatment rooms), with views of two lotus ponds and the chef has started growing a petite herb garden. The cooking school on the property is a great introduction to local food and culinary traditions. At night, the property is illuminated by candles and lanterns strung in the trees, turning it into a supremely romantic hideaway.

While I was having a drink here with friends one night, an exacerbated couple arrived at the reception and asked for a room, explaining their disappointment with the sparse look of the hotel they had originally booked. This is one of the best examples of why two high-end resorts, like the Amantaka and La Résidence can happily co-exist in a small place like Luang Prabang: both offer a totally unique and very different take on the destination, on the idea of staying in style and on Laotian culture.

gray-teal french doors in a white villa exterior flanked by two potted palms

Amantaka

Amantaka in Luang Prabang is a luxe oasis is in a historic garden estate, just a short walk to the town’s shops and restaurants.


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