Luang Prabang Hotels (2013)

We’ve now stayed in 3 different hotels in Luang Prabang and were happy with all 3; each for different reasons. In addition to those 3, on our last visit there in July 2013, we spent a day touring additional hotels.

On our first trip there, we were traveling with some friends and they specifically wanted to stay at the Lotus Villa. It is a small 2-level property in French colonial style architecture located in the old part of the city 2 blocks off of the Mekong River and a short walk to many restaurants and shops.

All Lotus Villa rooms have a patio leading onto or deck overlooking a well-kept garden/court yard where breakfast and evening cocktails are served. The rooms vary in size but are nicely decorated with colonial furnishings.

The hotel provides a casual atmosphere and very good service and has the added bonus of being directly on the route the monks take every morning on their rounds collecting alms. Our room was on the 2nd floor so we had the option of standing on the walkway just outside our door and looking down on the procession or walking down to the street and sitting on the curb as the monks walked by.

In preparation for our 2nd visit to Luang Prabang, we had read glowing reviews of Villa Chitdara 2 Guesthouse and we couldn’t have been happier with our decision to stay there. Like Lotus Villa, it’s also in a French Colonial style. The hotel is located on Ounkham Rd right by the Mekong River.

To us, it presents the best possible location in Luang Prabang. It’s an easy walk to many of the restaurants, shops and sights we love about the old part of the city yet is located on a relatively quiet street. There is no grand lobby or Olympic sized swimming pool but it was a nice place to stay at a reasonable price (about $50 USD for a double room.)

On our first visit we had room 04, which is the end room on the river side 1 flight up. The room isn’t huge but certainly more than adequate in size. We liked having the option of using a ceiling fan or mini-split style a/c. The room included a small refrigerator, flat screen TV and good Wi-Fi service.

The bathroom was modern and very clean. Looking out of the large windows we could see a quiet street and lovely Mekong River views. The breakfasts were imaginative and taking it on the riverside patio added to the experience.

But the best part of our stay at Chitara 2 was the service starting with the owner, Mr. Vong. Not only did he help with good suggestions for our daytime and evening activities but early every morning he also generously leads hotel guests to the street on the back side of the guesthouse and guides them on the correct way to give alms to the monks. We went with him on a couple mornings and during a break in the procession of monks, he took us onto the grounds of the temple that was across the street and shared some of his infinite knowledge of the monks’ daily life there.

On our most recent visit to Luang Prabang, our plan included 11-nights in the city so we thought it would offer us a good opportunity to check out some additional hotels. Since we had been so happy with our last stay there, our plan was to pre-book the first 3-nights at Chitara 2 and spend one of those days exploring some other hotel options.

We were thrilled to be able to get back into room 04 and again the service was terrific. Mr. Vong was traveling to Thailand for the first couple nights but his staff treated us very well and helped us arrange the use of a tuk-tuk for a couple hours to visit other properties. The hotel Wi-Fi was not working too well this time but we were able to sign in connecting (with permission) to a neighboring business’s service.

This visit was in late July 2013 or early in the off-season so with a little research on Agoda and similar 3rd party hotel booking web sites, we found many hotels in LP were offering deep discounts. We thought it might be a good chance to stay in a bit more upscale property so we made sure to include several of those in our hotel crawl. One item on our desired features list was a pool.

Our first stop was the 4-star Villa Maly Resort & Spa, located on the opposite side (from Chitdara 2) of the center of the city and night market. It’s a slightly long walk to the center but there are always tuk-tuks available right out front of the hotel.

Normally we stay in more moderately priced properties but when we visited the hotel, we were shown deluxe pool side rooms at a rate of about $90, which included breakfast and all taxes and fees. That was less than half the normally already reduced off-season rate.

Next up was the 4-star Muangthong Hotel in the same general part of town as Villa Maly. The hotel is owned by Lao Air and offers the added benefit of providing boarding passes & luggage tags at the front desk and a free shuttle to the airport for Lao Air passengers.

We were quoted an off season special of $75 per night for 2 nights and a third night for free, which works out to $50 per night for 3-nights. The hotel is a 1 block walk to the corner of the main street and a short tuk-tuk ride to the center of town. Rooms look out onto the central pool and deck at the Muangthong, which had the largest pool of any we saw on our hotel tour. The rooms we saw were of very good size. During our walk around the property, we interviewed some guests there and they spoke glowingly of the satisfying breakfast included in the rate. Telephone: +856 71 254976; Fax 856 71 252974;


Our next stop at the Villa Santi Hotel was only a few blocks away from Chitdara 2 back in our favorite part of the city. It is located on the main drag (Sakkarine Road) across from the Tamnak Lao restaurant. We had considered visiting the Santi Resport & Spa but even with 7 roundtrips per day for free, its location outside of city was not what we wanted so we eliminated it from our list.

Along with the great location, Villa Santi Hotel offers very nice colonial architecture in its lobby and main building; however the pool is very small; nowhere near large enough to do laps. The room we were shown was large and nicely decorated with a modern bathroom  but was across a side street in a separate building. The room was removed from street noise but on an earlier day, we had happened to walk down this street around 9:30-10 one evening and noticed that the annex the room was located in was next to an art school where we heard fairly loud disco music that we thought might be an issue.

So our final decision came down to a choice of the very attractive rate and generally good vibes from the Muangthong, the great location and ambiance of Villa Santi and the great comfort and feel of luxury of Villa Maly.

Our decision was to stay at the Villa Maly.  We loved our room with a very comfortable king size 4-poster bed, beautiful art work and large and imaginative bathroom.  Breakfast was a very nice buffet of Western and Lao options including eggs cooked to order on request.  We also enjoyed a nice late lunch by the pool one afternoon.  The service was excellent from the maids and waiters at breakfast to the front desk staff.  Even the French hotel manager was friendly and helpful.

The Wi-Fi was a little hit or miss and we did notice that on rides to and from Villa Maly into town, it seemed the fare for tuk-tuk rides was higher than when we were going to or leaving from Chitdata 2.

After 4-nights at Villa Maly, we tuk-tuked it back across town to our old stand by hotel; Chitdara 2 for 3 more nights. We were greeted like old friends and given the key to our favorite Room 04. We also collected laundry we had left with Chitdara 2 to be washed and folded during our stay at Villa Maly.

As an aside, I think we likely set some sort of record for the amount of laundry we had cleaned through Chitdara 2 over the entire 11-day stay but laundry is so cheap in the city and it was so simple to just leave it at the front desk we felt obligated to take advantage of the service.

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