Satri House

Review:

There are now many choices of where to stay when visiting Luang Prabang, that little Cotswold-style gem of a town in central Laos.

On our last trip we decided to stay on the edge of town in Satri House as Mr H had his heart set on staying in one particular room he had seen online. Built in the early 1900s for the Laos royal family, it consists of a mishmash of separate buildings and salas; old and new. Thankfully, the new wing has been very sympathetically styled and blends in well with the old.

We stayed in the upstairs suite in the original wing of the hotel.  There are only three bedrooms in the house (pictured above), as well as a couple of beautiful public lounges. Suite 442 where we were, occupies one half of the upstairs and was worth the money.

I’m sure the other rooms are also very nice (the hotel was refurbed and expanded over a couple of years ending in 2009), but it felt good to be in the authentic wing of the hotel.

AnteroomRoom: Everything you want in an Indochine colonial villa of old; Silk, hardwoods, art and furniture. AC helps, and the bathroom was large, new, airy and stylish, (just remember to close the shutters as people can see you at the mirror.)

The “lounge” wasn’t really a lounge, more an anteroom to the bedroom, but it was a comfortable and bright place to read and plan our next meal or shopping foray.

Service: I don’t know why, but service staff were almost exclusively male. Everyone was very friendly, and we were shown varying degrees of competence and initiative, but you had to pick your man if you wanted to be sure they understood more complex requests.

This is Laos, and they are only just getting to grips with the level of service that well-heeled tourists expect. Being friendly is a good start, but don’t expect Mandarin Oriental levels of excellence for a good while yet.

Facilities: Large pool for the size of hotel; big enough to swim lengths and a great way to cool off in the stifling heat of a Laotian afternoon. There’s a small bar, and a nice restaurant that whilst isn’t offering anything out of the ordinary in terms of lunch or dinner, did put on a really good breakfast.

There’s also a spa, although I didn’t get a chance to partake, and you can take bikes out rent-free to explore the surroundings.

The grounds are beautifully kept and the hotel is very nicely styled. Lots of nicknacks that you think would look great in your own home. The hotel does in fact claim that many of the furnishings are available in their shop in town, but it was a huge disappointment; with low quality products in a dusty old shop.

Ambience: There is a bit of a hush about the hotel, sometimes it feels like a bit of a museum, but it is a very pleasant place to chill out, with lots of different nooks to sit and enjoy the surroundings. You don’t feel too bad spending hours lounging around in your room either when you have a suite like 442. It feels more like a house than a hotel up there.

Price: The rate card starts at US$180++  for a standard room, and rises to US$400++ for suite 442.

Location: Satri House is on the eastern edge of town away from the centre. You’ll need a taxi back from a night out, and we made good use of the bicycles to get in and out of town during the day, (you can always load them into the back of the “Song Tao” style taxis, if you decide you can’t make it back to the hotel in the heat!), if you want to have the town and it’s splendours right on your doorstep, this is not the hotel for you.

One word of warning though. We stayed in Sari House during Laos New Year (beginning of April) and the local fair was in full, exuberant cacophony well into the early hours and is located less than 200m away.  It was great fun to go to and see, and we weren’t much bothered by the techno and concerts that blared from midday until the wee hours, but I imagine that it would ruin some people’s holiday. Some guests did indeed check-out and move to different hotels. This happens every year, so forewarned is forearmed.

Summary: I would definitely recommend staying in the original Satri House, we had a good time, and Mr H was very happy with his room.

Next time we go to LP we will stay somewhere different simply because there are now so many interesting little hotels to try out, that it would be daft to stay in the same one twice.

Necessity meant that we had to visit Laos at the beginning of April, but I wouldn’t really recommend visiting at this time. On the positive side, the town was almost empty of tourists, but on the negative side, it’s stubble burning season. The air is full of smoke, your clothes will stink, and you will never see a clear blue sky. For anyone with respiratory problems, it would be a nightmare.