How to choose a hotel in Luang Prabang

Jan 22nd, 2017, 06:17 AM
  #1  
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How to choose a hotel in Luang Prabang

We struggled with where to stay in Luang Prabang, and ended up choosing Belmond because it is a bit out of town and seemed to be located in a quieter area. It was a close decision between it and the Sofitel Hotel de la Paix. We now are in Luang and have visited several hotels. Here's the lowdown as we see it. Belmond is too far to walk into the Old Quarter -- probably over a half hour on some uninteresting roads. The Sofitel cuts the walk by 10 minutes or so. But that's not a deciding factor, because Belmond provides an hourly shuttle at night, and an on demand shuttle during the day, and bikes. We are happy with our decision to stay at the Belmond, but only because we were upgraded to the second floor with a magnificent view, the socalled mountain view instead of garden view. It's also a good choice if you prefer a bit more rustic and jungle-feel. The Sofitel, on the other hand, is more elegant and manicured, with much more modern, well-appointed rooms--each with an outside sitting area and small shallow pool. The rooms are around the perimeter to the spacious square in the middle of the grounds, with a high wall around the outside which provides privacy and a sound barrier. It is located in the midst of a residential area, on flat ground, so the rooms don't have a view of anything other than the square. The other high end choices in town include the Aman, which is probably 10 minutes closer to Old Town than the Sofitel. We toured the hotel and, as expected from an Aman, it would be the clear choice if money were no object. The final options are in the Old Town itself, which is where most of the boutiques, temples and restaurants are. There are a number of good choices there but we don't have first hand knowledge of any. With the easy transport from Belmond and Sofitel, I would recommend staying in either one rather than in Old Town. They tend to have larger grounds, more privacy and quiet. But for those who prefer to be right in the center of action, the Old Town of course would be a better location.
bob1010 is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2017, 07:56 AM
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I stay rather lower on the food chain than any of those hotels, and given the many choices in the old town there is no way I would stay somewhere that would require transport to get me into town. Last time I was in LP I stayed in a beautiful new guest house towards the far end of the main street - very comfortable, very convenient and quite cheap. However, I am unlikely to return to LP, as the presence of a Sofitel and an Aman indicate, it has been well and truly discovered.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2017, 09:02 AM
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You appear to have chosen on the basis of the hotel rather than the place itself which seems rather odd to me as the whole point of going to Luang Prabang is to spend time in the town rather than the hotel. Having visited several times I would always choose somewhere central as one often joys of te place is to wander the streets at dawn. I see little point in spending time travelling to and from, no matter how convenient the transport arrangements. Each to their own..
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Jan 22nd, 2017, 10:49 AM
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The issue of choosing a hotel is, it seems, as often as not based on how much insulation one requires from the realities of "difference". Many of us travel because of the differences, others in spite of them. If budget is of less concern and experience in Asia (or anywhere) less, then I can understand why one would would be more comfortable at a higher end place, despite the location. However, I'm with thursday on this one. Say "Sofitel" in the same sentence as a place I went when it was a relative secret and I know that particular criterion has ceased to be relevant. That isn't smugness speaking, simply budget and personal preference.
MmePerdu is online now  
Jan 22nd, 2017, 11:43 AM
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@MmePerdu - it was already overrun (and the beer and bikini crowd apparently moving up from VV) the last time I was there, and that was early 2011. Hate to think what it's like now. So glad I went in 2002 and 2004.
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Jan 22nd, 2017, 11:59 AM
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Indeed. I was there in 2002 & returned in 2007. On the second visit there were noticeable changes and far more visitors, not that the changes were intinsically negative, just not an improvement as far as I was concerned and knew that I'd be unlikely to return.

For someone going to LP for the first time, for whom there is no basis for comparison or to whom, for instance, having a Sofitel or similar, is a requirement, then going now would not have the downside it would for us, given our memory of a simpler time and low-key requirements. Change is inevitable and for many it's a good thing. Not all, but many.
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Jan 22nd, 2017, 01:09 PM
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I went several years ago to LP and again in November last year, sure it's much busier but there are also many more great choices of places to eat etc... the only thing I found much much worse was the TakbBat... aside from that LP is still charming....both times I stayed in hotels in LP as I agree with Crelleston part of the charm of staying there is being in the town.
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Jan 22nd, 2017, 01:56 PM
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Smeagol, my point isn't so different from yours, that "charming" is in the eye & experience of the beholder. Some will consider changes as improvements, others will see the charm they remember much diminished. Being in town is important to me, but I'd gladly trade more places to eat for the sleepy charm of 15 years ago. I'd never tell someone who'd never been there that it's "ruined". For me, maybe, but I wouldn't presume to speak for someone else.
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Jan 29th, 2017, 03:42 AM
  #9  
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Thanks for the replies. Of course, true travelers yearn for the undiscovered. but few places like that truly exist any more. The compromise for me at least is to find a way for personal discovery in discovered places, which means not going on a group tour. It may be artificial to think this way but it works for me, and gets me to the discovered but still interesting places. As for location of hotel, of course the old town area is where you want to spend time but that doesn't mean your hotel must be there. I stayed at Belmond and rode a bike every morn to enjoy old town at dawn (despite the tourists some of whom make the morning monk alms walk a circus). I looked forward to the 15 minute bike ride, and to being able to return to a spot like the Belmond. For those who think staying at a high end place is too insulating, you haven't been to the Belmond--there's no mistaking you are in Luang Prabang, not with the view, local staff, etc. A final point. Nothing wrong with local guesthouses if your comfort level is ok with that. I was in the Peace Corps so I can live without creature comforts. But with advancing age, there is something to be said for staying in nice, read more expensive places.
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Feb 2nd, 2017, 05:39 PM
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Thursday: I mean this genuinely. If Luang Prabang is off your list because high end hotels have arrived, what's next on your list? I'm searching for the same kind of place.
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Feb 2nd, 2017, 07:32 PM
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Well, I would really like to get to Iran, but looks like that's off the table again. So Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are at the top of the list. But I don't expect to find a Luang Prabang (as it was) there. However, unless the muscle pain I'm suffering from right now clears up, I'm not even going to the UK, which was the plan for May, and there I was thinking Scillies and Channel Islands.
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