Where to stay
Sofitel Luang Prabang is nestled in a quiet residential neighbourhood in what was originally built as the French governor’s residence in the early 1900s. The property, one of the oldest in the Sofitel collection, was transformed into a hotel in 2010 and fully restored in 2015 in time to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Luang Prabang’s Unesco designation. The hotel’s 25 suites each come with a private garden and an outdoor bathtub under a pergola, while the pool villas have a private plunge pool. The standout main pool stuns with its amethyst tiles, reflecting both the cultural heritage and the French colonial architecture of the time. Other features include an ornamental garden where two rabbits hop around all day long, a daily breakfast buffet, a spa and a 24-hour gym. Guests take weekly cooking classes where they learn how to make Laotian dishes with produce grown on the property.
The Governor’s Grill offers Western and Lao dishes centred around the ornamental garden. Guests can dine indoors or in an intimate tented area at night. Don’t miss the Library, a quiet space where guests can relax with a book and vintage wine by the fireplace.
Head to the traditional Lao building that houses Le Spa’s calming ambiance in three private rooms that can be booked by couples. Its pampering menu includes full-body, foot and head massages. Le Spa’s skin and beauty treatments feature ancient Lao techniques along with French, Swedish and Indian Ayurveda treatments with modern products and organic Lao creations.
The hotel’s location is just right: not too far yet not too near the town centre, a 15-minute stroll that takes visitors through charming local neighbourhoods. Sofitel shuttle buses also move guests between the hotel and city centre in the evening. But as a pedestrian-friendly city, the best option is to take a bicycle from the hotel, giving you free reign to discover all the little nooks and corners of this quaint town.
This article was published in the December 2018 edition of Southeast Asia Globe magazine.