PARK HYATT SAIGON (*****L): Those wishing to enjoy Saigon in the lap of luxury and class, already know by reputation this authentic palace hotel: where mouth to ear, combined with the prestigious image of the Park Hyatt brand, attracts the most prestigious guests. Enquire with anybody in Saigon about the best five-star hotel in town; the reply is always the same: “-Go to Park Hyatt!”.
We dropped our luggage in this caravanserai of luxury a couple of days, during the weekend. When leading businessmen give way to sophisticated leisure travelers, and when the restaurants and bars fill up with festive Saigonese and expatriate patrons: making this imposing five-star hotel turning into a classy entertaining center for the local elite.
The first reaction when our taxi reached this imposing, immaculate neo-colonial building, was: “-What a location!”. Right in the center of District 1, with all the business, museum, cultural attractions and best restaurants at an immediate reach. We understood that our next ride would be on our way back to the airport only. It took us less than five minutes to walk to the Nguyen Hué Square, City Hall, Opera House, Notre-Dame Cathedral, and amazing Central Post Office built by Gustave Eiffel. Restaurants and trendy bars are flanked along the colonial Dong Khoi Street (former Avenue Catinat): a place where Saigon never sleeps. Union Square, Levis Parkson, Vincom and further high-end shopping malls are concentrated around the hotel.
This feels like magic; the monumental lobby looks both impressive and reassuring. Quiet, yet animated by the presence of the elegant Park Lounge, famous for its Afternoon Tea. The equilibrium of its architecture makes it astonishingly homey.
Check-in procedure went as smooth as silk. It took less than five minutes to get to our Garden View Room, overlooking the swimming-pool. Spacious and ritzy, with a sublime floral carpet and nostalgic photos of the old Saigon, it featured tall colonial windows, framed with white wooden shutters, a well-sized hardwood writing desk, large-screen LED TV, Bose Bluetooth speaker, and a mini iPad displaying weather forecast, wake-up alarm, etc. We liked the Nespresso coffee maker, with a generous selection of blends which the housekeeper refilled everyday: just like the high-speed Internet connection, it was provided with compliments. Another bonus was the round-the-clock private butler service available to all 245 rooms and suites. Our gorgeous bathroom was equipped with the most complete toiletry kit ever, and with hyacinth and lime blossom fragrance amenities by luxury Vietnamese brand Cochine exclusively to Park Hyatt. Last but not least, the bed, with plush feather pillows, the finest linens, and a first class mattress, was one of the most comfortable which we experienced during our June/July 2016 Southeast Asian tour.
Like all palace
hotels, the Park Hyatt Saigon sells its suites
like hot cakes. The “Park Suites” are subdivided into different
categories. The cream of the crop, the Presidential Suite located on
the highest floor of the hotel covers not less than 190 sq. m. It
doesn’t show the flashy and stifling “Chinese influence” which we had
experienced so many times staying in premium suites in
South East Asia and China; no shining gold, no heavy marble, no shabby
“Louis Style” furniture, but elegant interiors with a cozy atmosphere.
Oil paintings, antiques, lacquerware and handcrafted embroidery by
established Vietnamese made us warmly feel at residence. We liked the
grand living room and the dining-room seating up to ten persons for a
dinner or a business meeting. And also the white marble bathroom: with
walk-in rain shower and TV-embedded mirrors. The rate was
quite reasonable, though we visited the hotel during the peak season
(it remains quite variable; thus we would say that it costs more or
less the price of an executive suite in a palace hotel in Paris and
London, while Deluxe rooms are 50 till 70% cheaper compared with
Make sure to book in advance your treatment at the awards winning Xuan Spa. A pride of the Park Hyatt Saigon, it brings a note of luxury and exclusivity to the Mekong Delta world famous reputation in term of unmatched rejuvenation therapies and exquisite massages. A new concept embracing the Mekong Delta’s essences, such as fresh herbs, local grains, and fruits, is used in the 4 private single treatment rooms equipped with brand new high-class equipment.
Gastronomy at Park Hyatt starts with the breakfast served at the Italian restaurant Opera. Comparable in term of elaborated cuisine, pleasant setting and impeccable service, with the best buffet breakfasts (with “a la carte” offers) ever experienced in referents high-end hotels groups worldwide, like Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, InterContinental, Four Seasons, … A Top 20 Best Hotel Restaurants Around the World by Daily Meal, and One of 82 Hot Tables by Condé Nast Traveler, the atmospheric Square One restaurant has an attractive International Cuisine Business Lunch Set Menu (about USD 18), served in five different dining areas displaying integrated open-kitchens.
INTERCONTINENTAL ASIANA SAIGON (*****L): "Asia's Leading City Hotel", "Vietnam's Leading Hotel", "Vietnam's Leading Business Hotel and Conference Hotel 2016" by the World Travel Award, this palace enjoys a priceless location in the heart of District 1, surrounded by illustrious competitors. The “five-star hotels war” in Saigon increases each year the level of comfort and services in a city where hospitality is part of the culture. But InterContinental always offers a premium bonus, which makes us have a liking for this brand since many years: the Club InterContinental Lounge.
The lounge at Saigon reaches a peak level. In term of altitude, by definition: perched at the 19th floor, dominating the most scenic area of the city and the River Mekong. In term of service, above all. The staff behaves five-star. We have for instance been recognized and called by our name by the ravishing hostesses: all about pampering us, anticipating our requests, and assisting us with the excellent concierge in confirming some important details of our complicated travel itinerary. We liked the intimate corners (plus a small meeting room) distributed within the lounge: we found it most pleasant to work on our laptop, or discuss with our companion, drinking one glass of Chilean red Cabernet Sauvignon wine. Spirits served during the happy hours were all fine quality brands. We have been particularly impressed by the attractive buffet, elegantly displaying Western snacks, quality cheese (including Camembert), and refined desserts. What we preferred were the Vietnamese snacks, and the thematic degustation station with a hostess preparing each day a different specialty: cocktails, soups, spring rolls, etc . High-tea is always a good moment, back from meeting or shopping, relaxing in style when the traffic goes amok in the bustling Saigon… We experienced our breakfast at the lounge and at Market 39. Though the choice of dishes, pastries, and beverages is obviously much larger in the lobby level restaurant, we preferred the lounge for the distinction of the service, the intimacy, and for the selection of high-quality dishes.
F&B at InterContinental Asiana is globally excellent. We can’t judge that much, as we had no time to experience their restaurants. But everyone in Saigon considers Yu Chu as one of the 10 best Cantonese restaurants in town. It serves in style authentic cuisine which we shall experience during our next visit to Vietnam. Basilico is a great trattoria, and a fashionable venue. We had a drink at Purple Jade, and liked the mundane atmosphere of the best competitor to the still unbeatable Park Lounge at Park Hyatt Saigon. The bartender at Purple Jade is a master in cocktails, and the snacks / tapas are surprisingly fair value for a five-star luxury hotel. Last but not least, there is a Food mall attached to the hotel, with the most famous franchised Asian and Western restaurants.
We booked in a corner Executive Room. Perfect! Sincerely, InterContinental Asiana has the most pleasant business rooms in Saigon. With far less bling compared with The Reverie, but showing better taste. Bedrooms have been tailored made to work, sleep, and enjoy the panorama; not to impress your business guest or girlfriend. We liked the hardwood panel floor, large desktop area, the relaxing chair, and the spacious bathrooms with a cornucopia of top quality amenities. Toiletry is by Agraria, like in all the hotels from the chain; those are fantastic products, manufactured by America’s oldest and largest luxury home fragrance company. There was a "Be your own Barista" professional coffee machine in our room, which we experienced with different blends of "Café de Colombie" Gimoka. We considered this complimentary bonus ways smarter that the boiled water / cheap powder coffee provided in 95% of the hotels. Thumbs up to InterContinental Asiana!
We asked to inspect a few suites. Though the hotel was high occupancy, we could see a couple of them. Located on the superior floor, they are tastefully designed, top-luxury but not baroque. The room / suite rates at InterContinental Asiana are reasonable. Particularly with the suites.
The SPA is lavish, the gym super-equipped, and the transparent pool nice-looking (though a little bit impersonal, with many high rise buildings all around...but we are in District 1!).
A luxury annex to the hotel, InterContinental Asiana Saigon Residences offers a short or long term stay in the finest and most contemporary serviced apartments in Ho Chi Minh City.
Last but not least, InterContinental Saigon is the premier meeting venue in the city and offers the latest technology in equipment.
One of the best InterContinental which we have visited recently, this is a top 5 best hotels in Saigon by Tripadvisor.
INTERCONTINENTAL ASIANA SAIGON: Hai Bà Trưng, Bến Nghé, Hồ Chí Minh, Bến Nghé Quận 1 Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
PHONE: +84 8 3520 9999 FACSIMILE: +84 8 3520 9955
VILLA SÔNG (****L): Ideally located along the
Saigon River, in the clean, quiet and
upper-class residential District 2, a short and memorable 15 minutes complimentary
speedboat cruise to the District 1 tourist / business /
shopping attractions, Villa Sông competes the number one ranking in Tripadvisor
with the five-star luxury The Rêverie, and comes
before superlative palace-hotels like Park Hyatt Saigon and Caravelle!
challenging 23 rooms
boutique hotel with a serene ambiance,
this posh, immaculate mansion owned by a group of investors from
Singapore accommodates tourists (the place is ideal for a honeymoon)
and businessmen (no traffic to the city center thanks to the boat).
Usually welcomed in person by Yega, the courteous Malaysian
general-manager, or by the exquisite, multilingual Miss Thuy, always
princely pampered by one of the best-trained staff in Vietnam, lots of
the guests made Villa Sông their home away from home in Saigon
kind of hotel where you like to come back, it has relatively small
but amazingly cushy rooms: so well-appointed and quiet, with supremely
smooth beds, dashing design, and brilliant bathrooms. It would be hard
to describe their distinguished interior, as no two rooms are the same.
Ours was a delightful “Sanctuary River
Room”, ideally located on the
2nd floor, with a dreamy view of the Mekong. In this category,
equivalent to a superior deluxe room in a chain hotel, the size varies
quite a lot between 32 till 48 sq.m. Those who like space should,
therefore, inquire in advance to book in the largest available room. We
liked very much the complimentary WiFi, minibar, and Nespresso Machine.
Another good mark for the elegant, high-tech Apple TV.
for more volume and style? Then straightly book in a 71 sq.m
“Villa Suite”, with a pleasant balcony and parlor. The gracious
four-poster bed would particularly seduce those on a romantic stay.
That category of room is equipped with a bathtub and a separate rain
shower. The largest room in Villa Sông (105 sq.m) is the “Imperial Suite”. Glamorous, it has
2 balconies with river view and pool view.
Swimming in the cool salt-water pool allows an interesting perspective on the French neo-colonial design of the white villa, totally refurbished in 2013, and on the lush gardens planted with palms along the sleepy banks of the most dynamic river in Asia. The powerful, comfortable shuttle-boat can be hired for short excursions. Do like us, book it just for one hour, and discover the hidden parks, with piers and yachts, of the most secret and sumptuous villas in Saigon, housing politicians, movie stars, and tycoons. Those sanctuaries of capitalism alternate with temples and modest fishermen houses. District 2 is indeed worth the incursion: it has excellent restaurants, like the almost homonymous La Villa, regarded by expats and Saigonese alike as one of the top ten French restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City. It is located five minutes from the hotel by taxi. Do not neglect the in-house restaurant, Bistro Sông Vie: the gastronomic experience along the river is to die for. From the extravagant à la carte breakfast, till the candlelit dinner, we have experienced a technical perfection by Chef Kevin Marchetti,
Sông is a member of the prestigious Secret Retreats collection
of boutique hotels, intimate inns and camps, beautifully designed full
service villas, exquisite restaurants and exotic cruises.
CARAVELLE (****L): Its architecture might look somehow Jungenstill, with a solid French touch; but the Caravelle dates back from 1959 only; while the other palace hotels located in the old Saigon colonial quarter have been erected in the 1920's. With its ritzy Italian marble, bullet-proof glass and state-of-the-art air-conditioning system, it became the leading hotel in Vietnam, and one of the most sought after address in S.E. Asia.
Modernity seems to be the best definition for a hotel which, half a century later, still copes with the rules of supreme elegance, unmatchable comfort and improved high-tech. We visited it during the Ten Years Celebration of its reopening, after up and downs, with a new tower erected in 1998, and the complete refurbishment of what we would call the «Old Wing» (the original Caravelle corner building) in a 5 star deluxe palace hotel.
This refurbishment re-launched the prestige of what was in the 1960's home to the Australian Embassy, the New Zealand Embassy, and offices for the Associated Press, NBC, CBS, the New York Times and the Washington Post, to name but a few. Air France opened its Vietnamese headquarter and ticketing office in the ground floor, when the airline begun operating a fancy new jet airliner of the same name.
For the most part, the ambiance at the Caravelle was one of relaxed conviviality. The rooftop bar was the centre of operations - both professional and social - for the international media. From their tenth-floor perch, cold beers in hand, journalists could, by the war's closing days, see the front line from their bar stools. If things got lively enough, they would ride the elevator down to the lobby, take one of the hotel's swanky American limousines out into the field and be back in time for cocktails and note comparing. By the end of the war journalists claimed that they could cover the action without even leaving their bar stools.
Following the Liberation of Saigon in 1975, the hotel was taken over and operated by the government and renamed the Doc Lap (Independence) Hotel. And so it remained until 1998, when the Caravelle name was relaunched, and what has once again become widely regarded as the city's finest hotel was reopened - still, as before, intimate, welcoming and mercifully free of pretense.
The original ten-storey building is now adjoined to a smart 24-storey tower that forms the bulk of the new property. Developers with less foresight might have been tempted to tear down the original and start from scratch. But somehow it seems unthinkable that those strikingly curved, balconied corners that have for almost half a century occupied one side of the city's most picturesque square, should be lost.
The immediate views from that rooftop institution so beloved by foreign correspondents, and now called Saigon Saigon Bar, have changed little since 1959. If you look across the Opera House and the Hotel Continental and up along Dong Khoi Street, you can still see the twin spires of Notre Dame Cathedral. Along this thoroughfare - once called the rue Catinat - in 1975, a Vietnamese tank rolled down to the Place Garnier, now Lam Son Square. Pulling up opposite the Caravelle it is said to have turned turret and taken aim at the hotel's facade. Why it didn't fire is anyone's guess, but rooftop tipplers with an appreciative eye for the heritage of this atmospheric corner of the city might consider raising a glass or two to whoever was giving the orders on that historic April afternoon.
The Saigon Saigon Bar still stands: its antique fans still whirl languidly from the raked ceiling, cocktails are still carefree on the garden terrace, dating back to 1956; and the veranda remains a “lookout tower” across Ho Chi Minh City, with its romantic purple glow at sunset. We are too young to tell you if the original atmosphere remains or not; what comes sure, is that there is still much action there! Just like everywhere in the hotel. We liked the «Latino Night» (once per week), with Cuban music and cigars, Armagnac and whiskeys costing the price of a bottle of Perrier in a Parisian terrace! We liked also the Filipino singers, whose chilly voices defy the rumblings of the thunder! Let's say that we certainly stay at the Caravelle first of all because of the reputation of its bar, which we haunted every night; mixing with the expats and local bartenders, which are the most social and friendly you might meet in Asia.
For this first visit in Saigon, we were hesitant between staying in the Caravelle, or in the opposite, deliciously colonial and world famous hotel Continental, well known to those who read Graham Green or Alphonse Boudard novels. Both hotels form, with the opulent Majestic, well worth the trip historical landmarks of hospitality.
is a private venture, with a very dedicated service, visible as soon as
we had stepped inside the lobby. Four doormen and a smiling, delicious
hostess greeted us; a ritzy though somehow familiar atmosphere made us
feel at ease at first sight. Were we actually in a communist state? We
felt like in The Oriental, Bangkok; privileged just like one can be
in South East Asia.
19 Lam Son Square, District 1,
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
PHONE: +84-8- 823 4999 , +84-8-824 3999
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