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Where better to fête the launch of our brand new south-east Asia hotel guide than one of south-east Asia’s newest hotels, the Alila Luang Prabang? Mr & Mrs Smith are currently tucked up at Laos’ latest luxe lovenest – so, hot on the heels of yesterday’s Postcard from Laos, here are their thoughts on their most recent find in the historic Mekong-side escape that is Luang Prabang

Alila Luang Prabang boutique hotel, LaosStyle Pared-down colonial
Setting Quiet residential quarter

Why this week?
As Smith’s youngest hotel-collection member, and host of our book launch, it seemed only fitting that we should tip our hats reverentially to Alila Luang Prabang. It didn’t feature in the book – but it had only just opened at the beginning of this month, when the last pages of Mr & Mrs Smith – Hotel Collection: South-East Asia were already rolling off the presses. The hotel is great value, too, with rooms currently on offer from $170 a night.

Alila Luang Prabang boutique hotel, LaosOur favourite bits?
Backed by emerald mountains and surrounded by high walls, Alila Luang Prabang blends restored colonial buildings with pared-down contemporary interiors.

Enter its huge courtyard garden, peppered with tropical trees and a come-hither pool, and you’ll feel like you’re in a stately sanctuary.

Originally intended as a mansion, the hotel served time as a detention centre, resulting in possibly the coolest room feature we’ve seen in a while: two Pool Suites boast their own watchtowers. Pop to the top for lofty views of the surrounding hills, or dine à deux in your own eerie.

Alila Luang Prabang hotel – Do Not DisturbMr & Mrs Smith say…
‘All 23 suites are subtly stylish, with romantic net-draped king-size beds, high ceilings and whirring fans. Beguiling black-tiled rain showers and sinuous freestanding baths come as standard, with Pool Suite bathrooms opening up to private terraces and your own pool (in fact, all rooms have their own lovely little gardens to laze in). There’s lashings of old Indochina here (shade-boosting shutters, dark wood and tactile teaware), with little touches ensuring you know you’re in Laos: a white frangipani flower on your pillow or the hill tribe-made alternative to a Do Not Disturb sign: a fleecy string of multi-coloured beads, shells and bells (right).

‘Gourmet travellers will love Kaipen restaurant, housed in a two-storey village-style Lao house above the hotel’s cooking school; pampering addicts can bag time in the spa. Leisure Concierges can also hook you up with a tailormade local experience, from a Laotian food trail to bicycling around sleepy villages, learning how to hand-dye your own silk scarf or chatting with monks at monasteries.’

Read more from our review of Alila Luang Prabang hotel in Laos…

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  • CarrieAndJonathan

    The high walls and tower definitely make it look like a prison (detention center).

    With all the less expensive places to stay in Laos, is this one really worth the $170/night?

  • Sounds fabulous – if the food is anything like the food in their restaurant in town then it’s going to be a real treat. Think this place opening is a great excuse for me to head back to Laos…

  • Kris

    Just back from a stay in Alila Luang Prabang.

    Generally agree with your description of the old world colonial setting in this world heritage site.

    However, there were a few items that disappoint.

    Building work for the resturant and spa was being carried out. The enjoyment of the stay was disrupted by the workmen walking about with cans of paint and other building bric-bac,not to mention the incessant building noise.

    The resturant and spa were not ready but allowed to operate out of a makeshift temporary setup.

    The central courtyard, and the private terraces, are newly planted, and looks threadbare, and strewn with rubble in places.

    Bedrooms seem to lack that final finishing touches like towel rails and adequate lighting in places.

    Not doubt in time all the above will be resolved, and this will be a lovely place, but I could not help feeling that perhaps they should have delayed the opening at least until the constuction phase was complete.

    I would recommend a visit in 6 months.

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  • @CarrieAndJonathan Since we’re talking south-east Asia, we understand why you’d pick up on the price – but we thought the rates (from US$170 a night for a Garden Suite) were good value: the rooms are super-spacious, and generally what’s on offer is a notch above the neighbours. Add to that the on-site spa, cookery school, pools and free bikes to borrow and we think it’s more than a fair package.
    On the prison tip, a lot of the world’s most glamorous hotels are housed in buildings with unromantic origins, including Soho Hotel in London (a former NCP car park) the Merchant Hotel in Belfast (Ulster Bank HQ), the Four Seasons in Istanbul (prison) and the Standard Downtown LA (1950s office block). Alila’s architectural legacy here (watchtowers) gives the hotel the kind of quirky spin that we love – plus you get a bird’s eye view of the hotel, surrounding mountains and streets!

  • If you’re looking to escape to Laos, this seductive Smith retreat now goes by the name Hotel Luang Prabang.