Hotel de la Paix Luang Prabang

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As you pull up outside Hotel de La Paix in their vintage Mercedes, you know you’ve arrived somewhere very special, very secretive, and certainly very cool. You’re greeted by an oversized doorway, which tempts you in through the high white wall, a wall that encircles the entire hotel. As you step through, you’re struck by the privacy, the magnitude of the frangipani gardens, the large glassy pool and the elegant suites which surround it all. Everything is incredibly crisp and slick; you won’t find clutter here.

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Years back, Hotel de La Paix was the town prison. Its charming French colonial buildings (now Unesco-listed) have been beautifully restored and cleverly married with newer structures, though a few of the watchtowers remain, providing a quirky backdrop to the hotel (and unique in-room dining spaces for 2 of the Pool Suites). The quality contemporary finish across it all is absolutely seamless and the end result is something extraordinary. Expensive, yes, but unlike any other hotel in Luang Prabang.

Rooms

There are 4 suite categories – Garden, Heritage, Pool and Governor – which fan out around the central garden. Décor is sophisticated with traditional dark-wood furnishings, high ceilings, polished concrete floors and neutral palettes. Bright textiles handmade by local hill tribes prevent the spaces feeling stark – a striped headboard here, a trio of cushions there.

Hotel de la Paix Luang Prabang via Sisters Tours Vietnam

Heritage Suitesare similar to the Garden Suites in size and décor, but they are housed in the original Unesco-listed colonial buildings (Garden Suites are in newer buildings, but they blend well with the restored architecture).

The 4 Pool Suites are set in the 4 corners of the grounds, which gives each a large L-shaped garden and ample space for their private pools and sun loungers. These are ideal for privacy seekers, and 2 have a former watchtower where you can dine à deux on request. The 2 Governor Suites are enormous, with soaring ceilings, an indoor/outdoor bathroom and a spacious garden. Note, though, that they don’t have a pool.

Spoiling touchesinclude a complimentary minibar (restocked daily), fragrant toiletries, robes, a massive flat-screen TV, turndown service, and a pre-loaded iPod on request.

Eating

The hotel has 2 restaurantsSa Bai Library & Lounge, which offers Western specialities and excellent cocktails, and Kaipen, which serves upmarket Lao cuisine.

Hotel de la Paix Luang Prabang via Jacada Travel

Breakfast is à la carte and served inSa Bai Library; our eggs and bacon on a muffin was pretty good, as was the fresh fruit juice. There were also delicious Lao entrées (a crêpe and apho/soup). Lunch is also served in the Library, as well as poolside. Expect dishes such as grilled salmon, duck breast with noodles, Caesar salad, burgers and sandwiches.

For dinner, Kaipen has a delicious-sounding daily menu (sadly it wasn’t open when we stayed) – the likes of chicken skewers with a papaya salad, beef curry with lotus seed, and coconut milk tapioca with seasonal fruit. All restaurant food can be served in your suite on request, or at a candlelit table in your private garden.

Sister hotel 3 Nagas is just around the corner, serving French-influenced Lao cuisinetom kha gai (chicken galangal soup), steamed river fish wrapped in bamboo, and barbecued buffalo. We’d also recommend L’Elephant and Tamarind, both of which you can walk to; book ahead in high season and at weekends.

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