Most of Laos' boutique hotels are located in Luang Prabang or Vientiane. Staying at a boutique offers a chance to experience true Lao heritage, as both Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and deep respect for history underpins most Lao boutique hotels. French Colonial décor and French-Lao cuisine dominate the country's boutique hotel community.
The 3 Nagas represents true Laotian style with traditional torchis walls and clay tile roofs. The hotel, which sits along the Nam Khan River in Luang Prabang, features a 1600-square-foot garden. Guests choose between the hotel's formal dining establishment or their casual eatery. The 3 Nagas also has a shop with Laotian handicrafts and library. Aspara spreads across three UNESCO World Heritage buildings. The Luang Prabang complex has two hotels facing each other on the banks of the Nam Khan River. The grounds for the hotel were once a rice warehouse. Meager beginnings have transformed into luxury -- The Washington Post called their rooms "an inch beyond decadence." The hotel does not recommend children on the upper floors because noise insulation is limited. The same family that ran the Luang Prabang Settha Palace Hotel in 1932 -- before the rise and fall of Communism -- still owns and operates the boutique today. Like other Lao boutiques, Settha has a French Colonial motif. A sidewalk café offering Asian dishes, a formal restaurant featuring French and Lao fare, and a poolside bar serving snacks complete the hotel's dining options. A Vientiane city mayor once called the 1920s-era Bellerive Boutique Hotel home. The building is on the shores of the Mekong River. Tamarind trees shade the hotel's sun deck, where guests enjoy meals.
Another royal residence, Luang Prabang's Villa Maly was the residence of Princess Khampieng and Prince Khamtan in 1938; the original royal pool remains in its place and operational. The neighborhood that houses the hotel was once a royal enclave. The boutique's design aesthetic borrows from Art Deco and French and British Colonial styles. Gardens sit throughout the hotel, and each building is named after a different flower. The Royal Laotian theme that runs throughout Villa Santi Hotel reflects the Vientiane boutique's ownership; a former princess and a Lao businessman operate the hotel. White linens contrast the rooms' dark wood floors, dramatizing the boutique's simple décor. Once home to Prince Souvannaphoumma, Luang Prabang's Maison Souvannaphoum made Conde Nast Traveler's USA 2005 Hot List. Guests enjoy the hotel restaurant's French-Lao-Indochinese cuisine in the open-air, poolside dining area.
Simplicity exudes throughout La Residence Phou Vao; rooms are complete with wooden furnishings and floors, white linens and all-natural cotton fabrics. The bathrooms at this Luang Prabang hotel feature free-form marble baths. Adjacent to the water lily pool is an open-air spa. As its name suggests, one of Green Park Boutique Hotel Vientiane's draws is its proximity to Nong Chank Park. The hotel also has a spa and a restaurant that serves traditional American breakfast and Lao, Thai and Western cuisine throughout the remainder of the day. The all-suite hotel, Amantaka, has much to offer with a spa, fitness facility offering yoga studies, access to a nearby tennis court, a multilingual library, art gallery and shop featuring works by local artists and artisans. The Vientiane hotel made Conde Nast Traveler's 2010 Hot List.
A modern addition to the Lao boutique world, Lotus Villa was built in 2008. The French-Lao style hotel, located in Luang Prabang, is one block from the Mekong River and a two-minute walk from Wat Nong and Wat Xieng Thong. All rooms have French doors that open to the tropical garden courtyard.
- mekong, laos image by J-F Perigois from Fotolia.com