With astonishing hill-perched tents, the ravishing new Rosewood has catapulted to the acme of Laotian luxury. You’d think the tents, exotically and individually decorated by Bill Bensley and fetching over £1000/night, are the hotel’s highlight. But its best-kept secret is Sense, the spa tucked half-way up the gardened hill the tents preside over. At the spa reception, heated towels warm your neck as you peruse the excursive spa menu, before you’re escorted through verdured ways to the spa suites, where a bed stands over a glass panel, framing a stunning streaming cascade of plants. Over signature “Lost Remedies” treatments, Ly – among the best masseuses on earth – straightens even the tautest of muscles, rendering you fit to sprint uphill to your tent. Treatment compositions use herbs from the hotel’s gardens, besides organic ginger, pepper and mountain honey, and smell so delicious you’d eat your poultice and scrub. But much better to try chef Sebastien Rubis’ Royal Laotian cuisine at the romantic, garden-wrapped restaurant in the hotel’s colonial Great House. Alas, his assemblage of French wines annihilate even the sternest detox resolve.
Conceived by legendary architect-turned-hotelier Adrian Zecha, fringing the Main Street of LuangPrabang’s old heritage town, the hotel is a miracle of minimalism, set around a sleek central pool. If the hotel’s 40 rooms are snug, the 4 spa suites are expansive, with the same spartan elegance. The Couple’s Suite conveniently has 2 individual changing areas with their own showers on either side. The spa boasts not one but two exceptional therapists, Noy and Sui – so you needn’t combat your partner for the best hands to effect the intensely vigorous 90-minute Deep Impact massage with lemongrass oil. The all-day restaurant has superb healthy salads, some of which incorporate the gleaming cherry tomatoes that grow around the restaurant’s outdoors terraces. But the hotel’s most exhilarating feature surely must be the street-set al fresco lounge terrace which spectacularly juggles private and public spaces – you feel you are at one with LuangPrabang’s streets and yet remain aloofly apart on this suave hotel terrace. As you nibble on salubrious Living Land Sandwiches, feast your eyes on the pageantry of temples, tourists and local life all around.
This beautiful hill-top retreat is secluded and serene. The Belmond boasts some of the loveliest suites; here, French colonial chic meets Asian exoticism, capturing the hypnotic romance of LuangPrabang’s bygone era like no other hotel in town. You won’t want to emerge from the seductive confines of your room – except for multiple excursions to the spa village, set around the spa’s private pool, in a delightful embrace of lotus ponds. Immense spa suites in dark wood exude a sensual oriental aura. Try a traditional hot bamboo treatment where steamed bamboo is used across your body to iron out and invigorate your muscles. Post-treatment, you may be escorted to a secluded gardened pavilion for a 500-candle dinner – “You can count the candles!”, the staff enthuse – amongst the most stunningly orchestrated private dining experiences. The spa’s rejuvenating therapies apart, it’s as therapeutic to simply luxuriate around the hotel’s main pool, watching verdant hills waver against cloudless skies. More therapeutic still is alms-giving to monks at dawn, followed by LuangPrabang’s first ever Breakfast Cruise. Float down the Mekong, past sleepy foliage that’s awakening gently in the soft morning sun, as your butler unveils a savvily composed picnic breakfast comprising all your favourites.
This abode has all the grandeur and the glamour – as it should, originally built as the French Governor’s residence in the 1900s. Citadel-like, the haughty white exteriors enclose opulent gardens and the longest, most lavish lawns in all LuangPrabang, inlaid with exuberant fountains and an amethyst-tiled pool. The spa is inspired, occupying fabulous heritage wooden Lao houses on stilts. Laos is renowned for its coffee: at The Sofitel, you don’t just drink it but are burnished with it during the elaborate Bonjour Experience, which uses rich Lao coffee and coconut to exfoliate the skin and stimulate circulation. The ritual culminates in a relaxing bath and an aromatherapy massage. Another spa with more than just one outstanding therapist, you’ll have to book a few massages to decide between Da and Lee’s expertise. Post-spa, relish one of the resort’s celebrated pop-up dinners in the bowers of an immense tree in the front gardens. New chef Jeremie Muller ‘Frenchifies’ Laotian cuisine into streamlined, stunningly presented artwork, imparting unprecedented finesse to LuangPrabang’s dining scene.