Asia/Pacific Eating Abroad Featured Hotel Reviews Laos

Luang Say Residence, Luang Prabang – Refined Colonial-Style Haven

April 23, 2018

Still half asleep and in my morning daze, I was momentarily perplexed as to exactly where I was when I woke up that first day at the Luang Say Residence. The familiar crow of an energetic rooster is one we have heard all over our travels through Asia, and yet, my immediate surroundings took me to another world. ‘You’re in Luang Prabang’, I reminded myself… a pretty little town with a UNESCO Heritage Site title under its belt and an unshakable French influence. Which brings me right back to the Luang Say Residence and all makes sense again. This gorgeous hotel is well-regarded as one of the best in town, and within minutes of our arrival, I knew exactly why.

In stark contrast to the small but heavily-populated streets of the town centre, the Luang Say Residence is a sanctuary for those in need of rest and relaxation. At this point in our travels, we welcomed that idea and are not ashamed to admit that we spent a lot of our time in Luang Prabang simply chilling out at the hotel. If we weren’t in our suite we were most likely to be found down by the pool… The stunning French colonial style buildings set in lush, tropical gardens made for an inviting combination. Add the excellent restaurants and impeccable service, and the thought of spending the day at the Luang Say Residence was simply irresistible!

View of main pavilion at Luang Say Residence

Lotus pond at Luang Say Residence

Checking into the Pioneer Suite

The Luang Say Residence is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, and the only such property in Laos. There are 32 suites; 28 Pioneer Suites located in the seven villas across the property and four Explorator Suites housed above the main hotel foyer. We checked into a Pioneer Suite which consists of a king-size bed, a snug lounge area, a huge bathroom with a double vanity and walk-in shower, and a private balcony. The Laotian wood floors, chic colonial-style furnishings, and neutral colour scheme gave the suite a light and airy feel, whilst still managing to be luxurious and indulgent.

There were so many little touches which made our stay even more comfortable. We lounged around in the his and hers robes and slippers, were grateful for the incredibly effective mosquito net which also managed to be a pretty feature, and loved the organic teas which were perfect for sipping in the afternoon. One of my favourite parts of our stay was the nightly turndown service as every evening the team would leave a little gift in the room. It would always be something locally-produced and come with a card explaining the gift and the member of staff who chose it. I’ve now got a cute little elephant trinket, a beautiful mulberry paper notebook, and handmade soap and lip balm – it’s such a thoughtful idea and a great way to support local artisan communities.

Bed in Pioneer Suite at Luang Say Residence

Lounge area in Pioneer Suite at Luang Say ResidenceBathroom in Pioneer Suite at Luang Say Residence

Dining at La Belle Epoque & Terrasse des Colonies

We were impressed with the quality and execution of all the food we ate at the Luang Say Residence, and that includes breakfast, lunch and dinner! I liked that they serve their breakfast a la carte; there’s always tea or coffee and juice, followed by a delectable bread basket filled with baguettes and croissants, then fresh fruit and yoghurt. That would be more than enough for me on any given day, but then it felt rude to turn down their eggs benedict with truffle hollandaise (definitely the best in town) or a comforting bowl of the khao piak sen, a thick rice noodle soup dish! Our favourite spot for breakfast was the terrace at La Belle Epoque where we could enjoy the morning sunshine and look out onto the hotel’s luscious vegetable garden.

Eggs Benedict for breakfast at Luang Say ResidenceKhao piak sen noodles for breakfast at Luang Say Residence

One evening we indulged in the Laotian Tasting Menu at La Belle Epoque which gave us an insightful introduction to the cuisine of Laos. With dishes like laarb kai, a warm salad with chicken, or amor lam kwai, a buffalo stew, the food was certainly traditional but beautifully executed and presented in a contemporary style. My favourite morsel of the night was the mok pla, a steamed fish mousse seasoned with basil, shallots and herbs – it was a simple but packed with so much flavour! However, the kitchen doesn’t just excel at local dishes, they do quite well with more Western-style offerings too. During one of our pool days, we had lunch at Terrasse des Colonies, the impossibly chic al fresco restaurant by the pool, and was equally impressed. A beef carpaccio was meticulously thin and well-seasoned, the seared tuna salad was delightfully refreshing, and a certain someone could not stop raving about his succulent pork tenderloin and crispy potatoes. With food this good, guests are seriously spoilt for choice!

Lao Tasting menu starters at Luang Say ResidenceMok pla from Lao Tasting Menu at Luang Say ResidenceTuna salad from Terrasse des Colonies at Luang Say ResidencePork tenderloin from Terrasse des Colonies at Luang Say Residence

Exploring In and Around the Luang Say Residence

Though the Luang Say Residence really feels like a world away from the heart of Luang Prabang town, it is in actually fact only a brisk 15 minute walk away. Even shorter if you decide to take advantage of the hotel’s complimentary shuttle or bicycles. On the days we did venture out, we visited the National Museum which used to be the home to Laos’ royal family, climbed up Mount Phou Si in the sweltering heat, and crossed the infamous bamboo bridges. Day trips to the Kuang Si Falls and evening visits to the Night Market are also tourist-favourites!

If you choose to hang around the hotel, there’s plenty to keep you occupied too… I spent some mornings walking through the grounds and chatting to the gardeners about their flourishing vegetable gardens, there was a movie night, a short jaunt to the local artisan crafts centre, and my personal favourite, a cooking demonstration with Chef Khampong. A certain someone and I got a little competitive while making our rice paper rolls, and got a lesson in making a pork laarb, my favourite Laos dish! The pool is a gorgeous place to cool down and relax, while the daily afternoon tea in 1861 Bar was always a welcomed treat. In the evenings, we often found ourselves back at the bar for a nightcap, and even some rather intense games of jenga. We absolutely loved our experience at the Luang Say Residence and would be thrilled to check back in the next time we’re in Luang Prabang!

Laarb and summer rolls from cooking demonstration at Luang Say Residence

Pool area at Luang Say Residence

Step Inside the Luang Say Residence…

We paid a media rate for our stay at the Luang Say Residence, but as always, all opinions are mine and mine alone!

If you’re looking for more Laos travel inspiration, check out my other posts…

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