With its rich architectural and artistic heritage, gilded temples and French Indochina-era villas and shopfronts, Luang Prabang is a hidden gem just waiting to be explored and discovered. And for couples wanting to combine a short break in this charming city with the best in style and romance, the exquisite Sofitel Luang Prabang offers an unparalleled level of luxury.
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With a strong connection to Lao tradition and a colonial-meets-contemporary French design, the hotel is an artful blend of local culture and French joie de vivre.
Located in the quiet residential district of Ban Mano just a short walk or drive from the old town, the century-old colonial mansion on the grounds of the former French Governor’s residence, with its fortified walls and lush botanical gardens, was transformed into a luxury Sofitel in 2016. And with only 25 all-suite guests rooms, every single guest of Sofitel Luang Prabang is made to feel special. Consider it your own private haven of calm and cool in one of Southeast Asia’s most charming cities.
Room for Two
Check in to one of only 25 all-suite rooms, each boasting high ceilings and a lush layering of Lao artefacts and hand-woven textiles. The elegant villa suites at Sofitel Luang Prabang range in size from spacious to palatial, from the Garden Suites or the Heritage Suite, both with private garden with gazebo and outdoor bathtub, to the Pool Villas (only four in total) which boast their own private walled gardens and plunge pools.
Or, there’s the luxe Signature Governor’s Residence, with its grand features, generous sitting and dressing areas, and expansive garden with outdoor gazebo and bathtub. Regardless of your choice of suite, you’ll enjoy plush king-size beds and spa-like bathrooms offering a rain shower, indoor tubs, and dressing area (twin rooms are available upon request too for couples travelling with children).
Stroll through the lush tropical gardens to find the swimming pool with its series of sun-beds providing the perfect perch for a cocktail and a swim on a balmy afternoon after a day of shopping and sightseeing.
Or, head to Le Spa, housed in one of the beautiful restored traditional Laos wooden homes in the hotel’s front courtyard, for a few hours of pampered bliss – choose your experience from a menu of spa treatments based on centuries of Lao healing traditions.
Dining is a relaxed affair at Sofitel Luang Prabang, and guests can dine on a gourmet selection of Lao food as well as some of the best international cuisines in the city at the open-air tented restaurant, Governor’s Grill. But there’s also plenty of reasons to get out and about to find a taste sensation.
There’s no better place to experience a traditional Laos feast than at 3 Nagas, part of MGallery by Sofitel, Sofitel Luang Prabang’s sister hotel just a few minutes down the road. Free shuttles between the two properties are available in the evening or have the hotel arrange a tuk-tuk ride for you to take the short trip in local style.
We headed to 3 Nagas for a delightful few hours of dining under the stars, enjoying the tasting menu of Laotian favourites – dishes like spicy and sour Mekong River fish soup, Mhok Het (steamed mushrooms, mixed vegetables, Lao herbs wrapped in banana leaves), and richly spiced curries, all washed down with whisky cocktails and the gentle sounds of folk music.
After dinner, wander down the road to one of the many cool and chic wine bars that have taken up residence in the old shop houses that line the main street of town, and take a seat with a glass of fine French wine to watch as the world slowly passes by.
Sofitel Luang Prabang is ideally located close to the centre of Luang Prabang’s UNESCO World Heritage site, providing easy access to all the attractions of this relatively small city, and the hotel’s leisure concierge will tailor your experience and guide you to all the hidden gems.
Sofitel Luang Prabang can arrange for guests to take part in the daily ritual of Tak Bat, the alms-giving ceremony (above) that takes place at the crack of dawn every morning, where you can witness the beauty of hundreds of monks from the temples, clad in vibrant orange robes, walking the streets collecting offerings of sticky rice from devout locals.
Or, take part in the traditional Baci ceremony, where local elders facilitate the tying of strings around a person’s wrists to preserve good luck, with the belief that the 32 guardians spirits of the body are symbolically bound to a person to keep him or her healthy and safe. The Baci ceremony is held on the grounds of Sofitel Luang Prabang most Saturdays (depending on guest interest and high/low season occupancy), while couples wanting their own intimate blessing can arrange for a private ceremony (200 USD per session), held either at the hotel or the house of the local Baci shaman elder.
Don’t leave Luang Prabang without getting out and into nature. While it’s undeniably a tourist hot spot (arrive early in the morning to beat the hoards!), the Kuang Si Falls (above) is a must-see. Head half an hour’s drive outside of town to find the three-tiered travertine waterfalls and dive on into one of the many turquoise swimming holes to receive a blessing of a different kind on a typically hot, humid day.
We took in the falls, as well as a stop at the nearby Bear Rescue Centre, as part of a varied and enjoyable tour with Trails of Indochina, which also included a visit to the Laos Buffalo Dairy, a socially-responsible dairy and farming initiative producing exquisite buffalo milk cheese and ice cream.
Then spend an incredible few hours feeding and walking alongside the retired and rescued elephants at the Mandalao Elephant Sanctuary (above) – an absolute must-do for animal lovers wanting to support a genuine elephant rehabilitation and conservation effort in Laos.
Finish the day with the simple pleasure and pure romance of a sunset cruise on the Mekong River, toasting to the mesmerising colours as the sun melts into the water of Southeast Asia’s most magnificent river. The hotel can arrange a perfect afternoon cruise, complete with canapes and drinks, aboard the luxurious Mekong Kingdoms river cruise boat. Absolute magic!
Couples Will Love
Luang Prabang exudes an effortless romance and timeless charm, and a stay at Sofitel Luang Prabang brings the perfect combination of world-class comfort and relaxed refinement to the mix.
The hotel is small enough to feel intimate and tranquil, yet has all the French Colonial chic and contemporary luxury to leave guests feeling totally and completely pampered.
Scoot offers a three-times weekly service from Singapore to Luang Prabang and Vientiane in Laos (now the only airline offering direct Singapore-Laos services). One-way tax-inclusive Economy FLY fares to Luang Prabang and Vientiane start from 125SGD and 100SGD respectively.
Image credit: Sofitel Luang Prabang and Natalie Bannister