Friday, February 4, 2011

South-East Asia: The Best and the Worst Hotels


Hotels are often the key to really enjoying a destination, and the ones you chose can often make, or break, a travel experience. If you are considering travelling to Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos in the next while, it's always helpful to get a candid view on what some of the top hotels are like before you book your holiday. So, without further ado, the Best and Worst of Southeast Asia...


THE ABSOLUTE BEST 
Park Hyatt Saigon
BEST HOTEL - BEST SERVICE



2 Lam Son Square, District 1
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Vietnam
Tel: +84 8 3824 1234 | Fax: +84 8 3823 7569 

An extraordinary hotel on every level, The Park Hyatt Saigon was our absolute favourite hotel in Vietnam. Located in the heart of Saigon on Lam Son Square overlooking the Opera House, the Hyatt is within walking distance to Ben Thanh Market and many of the cultural and historical sites. The staff at the Hyatt Saigon are outstanding — unbelievably courteous and friendly — and the restaurants, Square One and Opera, consistently excellent. The Park Lounge Bar, perfect for cocktails, is elegantly appointed with leather wing back chairs and intimate seating arrangements, where a wonderful pianist plays for guests each evening. The Park Deluxe rooms are the way to go, with private terraces and direct access to the beautiful pool and landscaped tropical gardens. The hotel and service were impeccable, with staff greeting us by name throughout our stay! We could not have been more impressed. 


BEST SERVICE
Park Hyatt Saigon

MOST ELEGANT BAR
The Lounge Bar, Park Hyatt, Saigon


The Park Hyatt Lounge Bar


Park Hyatt's Square One Restaurant 
featuring Vietnamese cuisine, Seafood Bar and Steak Grill



BEST COCKTAIL 'LOUNGE'
Hotel de La Paix, Seim Reap


Hôtel de la Paix 
Sivutha Blvd, Siem Reap
Cambodia
Tel: +85 5 6396 6000 | Fax: +85 5 6396 6001

Hotel de la Paix is a wonderfully modern hotel in central Siem Reap, and only a short distance to the magnificent Temples of Angkor. The scent of fresh jasmine is everywhere, with gorgeous handmade garlands presented to us upon our arrival. A fusion of ancient Khmer and art deco design, the hotel has 107 rooms and suites, 2 restaurants, a fabulous swimming pool and the extraordinary Fire Garden Courtyard and Reflecting Pool with fabulous swing dining-beds. A magnificent gnarled Ficus tree sits in the middle of the water with four torcheres in each corner, making cocktail hour spectacular! With a bound volume of cocktails to choose from and complimentary hot hors d'ouevres brought on a silver tray, The Fire Garden is unquestionably the most impressive ambiance for cocktail hour during our whole stay in south-east Asia. We were also fortunate to stay in the Pool Suite, with it's private pool deck, dining area and direct access to the swimming pool and water garden. And with the heat we experienced in Cambodia, slipping into the pool each afternoon was only topped by the Green Land Cocktail I ordered in The Fire Garden each night! 


BEST COCKTAIL LOUNGE
Fire Garden, Hotel del Paix

BEST COCKTAIL
Green Land Cocktail, Fire Garden, Hotel del Paix

BEST TASTING MENU
Khmer Tasting Menu - Meric Restaurant, Hotel de la Paix

BEST GIFT SHOP
Hotel de la Paix

BEST TOURS
Temple Complexes - Siem Reap

FAVOURITE GUIDE
Mr. Ta



Swing Dining in the Fire Garden Courtyard

Our Pool Suite with private pool deck





BEST RESTAURANT
Hotel Metropole, Hanoi


Hotel Sofitel Metropole Hanoi
15 Ngo Quyen Street Hoan Kiem District 10000 Hanoi,
Vietnam
Tel: +84 4 3826 6919 | Fax: +84 4 3826 6920


Located in the heart of Hanoi, the Hotel Sofitel Metropole is an oasis of charm and sophistication, combining Vietnamese hospitality with European luxury. With two wings of the hotel to choose — the original french colonial charm of the historic Metropole wing, and the neo-classic elegance of the newer Opera wing, we chose one of the original suites with sumptuous finishings of a bygone era. The three Metropole restaurants are all famous dining venues, with past guests including famous heads of state and renowned celebrities including Charlie Chaplin, Catherine Deneuve and Mick Jagger. We dined twice at Spices Garden, famous for it's Vietnamese cuisine and incomparable Seafood Nights, which feature an extraordinary selection of fresh whole fish and seafood, custom grilled on an outdoor BBQ, in addition to over 20 seafood appetizers, from stuffed crab, raw oysters and shrimp dumplings to lobster bisque and chilled langoustine. I was so impressed, I asked to meet the chef. Madam Kim Hai indulged me and gave me a tour of her kitchen too!




BEST RESTAURANT
Spices Garden, Hotel Sofitel Metropole, Hanoi

MOST LOVELY FLIRTY WAITER
Ling at Le Club, Hotel Sofitel Metropole, Hanoi



Hotel Metropole Lobby

Spices Garden Kitchen

Chef Madam Kim Hai
Hotel Metropole's Vietnamese Restaurant - Spices Garden


Spices Garden Menu



BEST HIDEAWAY ESCAPE
Six Senses, Ninh Van Bay



Ninh Van bay, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa 
Vietnam
Tel: +84 5 8372 8222 | Fax: +84 5 8372 8223

Six Senses Resort, overlooking peaceful Ninh Van Bay, is a tranquil oasis of rustic charm and natural beauty. Accessible only by water, the resort's beachfront villas are all beautifully integrated with nature, using all natural materials and finishes from sustainable and natural resources. Stepping ashore, we are greeted by our Butler Ahn, complimentary with every villa, who escorts us to BFV #18, our secluded 2-story beachfront villa with its own pool, outdoor shower garden and private beach access. The cuisine at Six Senses is outstanding, with four restaurants from which to choose, everything is freshly made using traditional Vietnamese ingredients from the resort's organic garden, and locally caught fish and seafood. With the only mode of transport being buggies or bikes, guests quickly become at one with lazy pace of this sandy corner of paradise. For the more active, there's scuba diving, kayaking, and cooking lessons to an extensive menu of spa treatments and therapies at the Six Senses Spa. Or you can just float around in your private pool and mull over what you might have for dinner. Six Senses is a wonderful escape from the real world and just the place to recharge one's emotional batteries.

BEST HIDEAWAY ESCAPE
Six Senses, Ninh Van Bay

BEST COOKING CLASS
Six Senses, Ninh Van Bay

BEST PRIVATE POOL VILLA
Six Senses, Ninh Van Bay

BEST CORE VALUES
Six Senses, Ninh Van Bay



Our wonderful Beach Villa #18


Dining by the Bay Restaurant at Six Senses,
rather like dining in a tree house!




THE RASPBERRY AWARD FOR 
THE WORST SERVICE
The Nam Hai, Hoi An



Hoi An, Hamlet 1, Dien Duong Village
Dien Ban District, Quang Nam Province,
Vietnam
Tel: +84 51 0394 0000 | Fax: +84 51 0394 0999

The Nam Hai is undeniably the most gorgeous hotel. A breathtakingly beautiful all-villa resort with private gardens, lush landscaping, swaying palm trees and unobstructed views of Vietnam's East Sea. It is regarded by many to be Vietnam's finest resort. The villas are unique. Ultra modern in design, they combine a sleeping area, writing desk, divan and bathtub on a raised platform in the middle of the space, which is enclosed with drapes in the evening and candles lit in each corner of the room. Nice. The details and finishings are all impeccable. Unfortunately, the service is not. A buggy collects guests when they want to be picked up for dinner...sometimes. Room service arrives...sometimes. The management at the front desk...rude. The staff in the restaurant...pleasant but nervous. Vietnamese hospitality has been overwhelming everywhere else we've stayed, so we ask ourselves, "What on earth is going on here?" The Nam Hai is a jewel, being run by a cadre of sullen, ill-mannered drones that give the Politburo a good name. And it's such a shame. The architecture is stunning. The interiors inspired. The landscaping breathtaking. The cuisine excellent. But without the essential 'service with a smile' and the high quality of customer service one expects from a property of this calibre, the Nam Hai just doesn't measure up to what it promises to be. It has great potential but is a long way from achieving it.


Our ultra mod beachfront Villa overlooking the East Sea

A beautiful water feature outside The Bar, 
located above the main restaurant


BEST JAZZ
Rain, Nam Hai Bar, Hoi An

MOST BEAUTIFUL HOTEL DESIGN + LANDSCAPING
Nam Hai, Hoi An

THE ABSOLUTE WORST CUSTOMER SERVICE
Nam Hai, Hoi An