Rosewood Luang Prabang
When it comes to sophisticated secluded retreats, the long-awaited Rosewood Hotel in Luang Prabang is heaven. Located within an atmospheric jungle just outside Laos’ ancient Royal Capital, this hotel is an oasis brimming with lush greenery, a scenic waterfall and eye-catching exotic birds and butterflies, complete with luxurious amenities. Gently flowing through the heart of this peaceful sanctuary is a river that leads to the hilltop spa, where arguably the most striking views of the waterfall can be seen when enjoying a Hmong massage.
While there are just 23 guestrooms, suites and villas scattered around this rural setting, our favourite rooms are those perched high above: the wonderful Hilltop Tents. Adorned with fabrics and traditional dresses belonging to Laos hill tribes - the Lisu, Mhong, Akha, Lahu, Palaung and Mien people, each spacious luxury tent celebrates authentic local culture and evokes a strong sense of place. Unsurprisingly, the key draw of staying up here, in our opinion, has to be the arresting panoramic view over the Nahm Dong mountains. You can simply unzip the tent façade to enjoy these from the comfort of your own bed or step out on to your private balcony to embrace it to its full effect. For those that would prefer to stay close to the action and central facilities, such as the elegant oval-shaped pool, the Riverside rooms and suites along the banks would suit better; or the Waterfall villas with their private pools and outdoor baths.
Taking its cue from the French-Lao architecture for which Luang Prabang is known, the interiors reflect the influences of ancient temples with their rich jewel tones, intricate teak partitions and diamond-patterned floors. The mastermind behind their creation, the renowned Bill Bensley, also skillfully blends in his signature colonial style. Not only does this add to the French-Indochine ambience that runs strong throughout the entire property’s veins, but it also captures the country’s heritage.
Precise attention to detail and special touches also feature within other aspects of the hotel, from the friendly staff’s attentive service to the highly personalised excursions on offer: choose between artisanal explorations, visits to local hill tribes and ethical elephant sanctuaries, meditation with saffron-robed monks in ancient temples and swims in secret waterfalls.
Dining at The Rosewood is fantastic; the knock out restaurant, The Great House, serves a daily-changing menu of fresh Laotian regional specialities cooked by a talented French chef, Sebastien Rubis. All the cuisine is locally sourced and differs depending on the season making it a real highlight of a stay here, and we believe that there is no better way to top this off by enjoying a nightcap at the elegant Elephant Bar opposite.
Tucked away in an unspoiled remote pocket, but also close enough to the all UNESCO sites, is also a big plus. A stay here is a must if you are after rest and relaxation but also love a sense of adventure without compromising on luxury.
The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.
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