Appropriately located on ‘Old Prison Road’, adjacent to the historic centre of Luang Prabang, the Sofitel Luang Prabang, formelly the Hotel de la Paix, is without doubt the most intriguing, but also the most stylish, of all the hotels in town. It is set within a protected former mansion which, true to the road’s name, was until recently the principal jail in Northern Laos. Sensitively renovated by renowned Thai architect Duangrit Bunnag, the traditional French colonial structure remains unmistakeingly recognisable as its former self, showing in high walls and regular watch-towers. However, it is now contemporary and elegant, blending colonial charm with cutting-edge style to create a sleek resort hotel.
It is still wonderfully quirky, making staying here an experience. Featuring just 23 suites, they are each unique in design, with some bordering on the ‘huge’, either opening up to a private pool or an outdoor pavilion. The two corner suites have access to towers, providing panoramic views of Luang Prabang and all suites come fully equipped with the latest in-room entertainment including HD television sets, DVD players, iPod and Wi-Fi connectivity.
The hotel’s restaurant – Kaipen – is set within an authentic two storey house that overlooks the prison yard, serving traditional Lao and French influenced cuisine with an emphasis on fresh produce – much of which is grown in the resort’s organic garden. The restaurant also offers guests the chance to learn the secrets of Lao cuisine with hands-on cooking courses available. Also in the central courtyard is a 25-meter outdoor swimming pool, serving as an inviting sanctuary during Luang Prabang’s warm afternoons.
For those looking to indulge in total relaxation, the hotels also houses Luang Prabang’s best spa – Spa Indochine employs unique Asian healing techniques aimed at stimulating, rejuvenating and balancing both body and mind.