gray-teal french doors in a white villa exterior flanked by two potted palms
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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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Bar at 3 Nagas, Luang Prabang, Laos

3 Nagas

An Indagare Insider based in Bangkok recommends this guest house, one of the most-established in Luang Prabang. It’s located on the main drag Sakkaline but further towards Xiengthong Temple, so it feels removed from the bustle. The three historic buildings that were joined to create the hotel give a nice sense of place, as do the local decorative touches that embellish the fifteen guest rooms. Like all of the guest houses within town, 3 Nagas doesn’t have a pool, so travelers looking for more of a resort feel will be happier at the Amantaka, La Résidence Phou Vao or Kiridara. The restaurant on the premises is one of the best to sample classic Laotian fare.

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The beautiful Avani+ was designed by Pascal Trahan, who also led the design of the sleek Amantaka down the road. Rooms are very minimal but comfortable and sophisticated, with blonde wood furniture and crisp white linens. When not exploring the bustling surrounding area, guests can unwind at the spa, which offers signature treatments like invigorating body scrubs and aromatic oil massages.

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.

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Pool Lounge at Kieidara, Luang Prabang, Laos


Located on the edge of town, the Kiridara is built into a verdant green hillside, affording it sweeping views of the area and onto Mount Phou Si. The eighteen guest rooms (the top category are the Premium Mountain View rooms) feature polished southeast Asian wood furnishings, wood floors, king-size beds and large rain showers (some rooms also have bathtubs). The best ones are on the higher floors with views toward town and some come with small balconies and terraces.

Considering that the Kiridara is located away from most of the sights, you are not likely to spend much time at the hotel during the day. Breakfast is served in a light-filled room or on a small patio in front of the hotel, while cocktails can be had on a large terrace with low couch seating and a groovy soundtrack playing at night. Kiridara is owned by a local architect who hired Thai Ativa Hospitality (the group behind Trisara in Phuket) to manage the property and the opening general manager hailed from the One & Only Maldives. The combination gives Kiridara a nice vibe that feels professional but hardly chain-y. The staff is lovely and tries hard to accommodate requests (the most common of which is a shuttle into town, since the main drag is about a 5-minute drive and 8-minite bike ride away). There’s also a small spa and a nice pool on the premises.

Suite at Maison Souvannaphoum, Luang Prabang, Laos

Maison Souvannaphoum

Run by Angsana hotel group, this guest house is housed in a former royal residence and lies a bit off the beaten path but still within walking distance to the center of town. Unlike many of the dark-teak interiors of other guest houses, the ones at Souvannaphoum are done in light colors: white walls and furniture, with touches of reds and orange. Some come with balconies; the best ones are the suites in La Résidence wing. There’s a pool on the premises and the garden setting gives the property a deeply serene vibe.

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Rosewood Luang Prabang

Set around a river and immersed in nature, the Rosewood offers the most resort-like experience in Luang Prabang.

Accommodations are designed by Bill Bensley, with lots of color and patterns, employing loud fabrics and vintage relics that complement dark teakwood structures. Rooms vary in style, from River Rooms and Suites, some of which have subtler color schemes, to the Waterfall Pool Villa—a honeymooners' paradise featuring wooden bathtubs, private bars and outdoor dining. For those wanting more experiential accommodations, there are rooms with themes, such as cartography, and hilltop tents dedicated to Laos’s local tribes with corresponding textiles and objects.

The Sense Spa features tented treatment rooms that have cutouts below the beds, so guests can see the river rushing beneath the tent. Many of the ingredients are sourced from the spa garden next door, with the option of having products mixed on the spot.

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Lounge at Satri House, Luang Prabang, Laos

Satri House

The Satri House compound is conveniently located near town and contains the historical residence of the Laos Prince Souphanouvong. More upscale and in the more traditional Laos style, the Satri House boasts a library with a fireplace for cool winter nights, a full spa with a Turkish-type bath, cold dip pool, and an open restaurant. The furnishings and antiques are ethnic and authentically beautiful. You can rent out the entire Prince’s house that is located directly in front of one of the divine swimming pools.

Pool Lounge at Hotel de la Paix, Luang Prabang, Laos

Sofitel Luang Prabang

Every once in a while a hotel is created out of a historical monument and it becomes not only a special experience but also an exquisite property. The Sofitel, a luxurious mansion built for the French Governor’s family in the 1900’s, first a garrison and then a prison, in Luang Prabang is a protected historical monument and has been lovingly refurbished (with stringent restoration guidelines from the historical society). Its 23 suites surround a huge courtyard with expansive gardens that is host to local plants, herbs, and flowers, not to mention a 75-foot swimming pool, heated for the cold mountain nights.

Situated in a neighborhood on the edge of Luang Prabang, where many of the other luxury properties are located, it is only about a 20-minute walk and a 4-minute (2 dollar!) tuk-tuk ride into the historical part of town. As a former palace, garrison and prison the décor may seems a bit minimalist in design, due to preservation guidelines, the suites are huge and airy with 15-foot ceilings and locally woven linens. Every suite features an indoor and outdoor bath, and some pool suites have private plunge pools. The service is impeccable.

Whether visiting in the summer or winter, you can either sit by the fireplace sip wine and read, or in the summer have some bubbly in the pool while watching the sky catch fire in a Laotian sunset. The restaurant features remarkable Lao style fine dining – try dipping the sticky purple rice in larb, a minced combination of meats or vegetables and fresh herbs. Just be careful of the Lao Lao beer– it is quite robust.

Interiors at Victoria Xiengthong Palace, Luang Prabang, Laos

Victoria Xiengthong Palace

This property at the tip of town overlooking the Mekong is located in walking distance to all major town sights but away from the clogged drag near the Royal Palace, make it an appealing option. Overlooking the Mekong and adjacent to fabled Wat Xiengthong, this boutique hotel is housed in a former palace owned by the royal family (which was ousted in 1975 with the arrival of the Communists). The white French Colonial buildings house the 26 rooms whose interiors are classic southeast Asian (polished wood, stone floors, embroidered fabrics). Some of the suites come with small plunge pools. Lovely touches, like a mural depicting traditional Lao scenes, can be seen throughout.

The only drawback is that despite months of negotiation and petitions, the Xienthong Palace was not granted permission to build a pool on the sizeable premises (one reason that I heard was that the nearby monastery houses many young—and presumably impressionable—teenage monks). The property has solved the dilemma by adding a very pretty water feature, a shallow wading pool, but it’s a shame that guests cannot lounge in the gardens of this special place. A pool surely would have given it an edge over such properties as the Kiridara , which are comparable in look, design and price but that don’t have this great in-town location.

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