Destination: Laos: Luang Prabang
Apsara & Apsara Rive Gauche
Writes Indagare member Tiffany Schauer: “We dropped our bags at the hipster-cool Apsara hotel. The establishment is located on Luang Prabang’s famous peninsula flanked by the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers. The Aspara hotel also has a sister property across the river – the Aspara Droit – a bit more swanky with a pool.”
Opened in May 2011, the boutique Kiridara is a good solution for travelers who don’t want to stay in a tiny guest house in town but who are looking for something more affordable than the Amantaka and La Résidence Phou Vao. Located on the edge of town, the Kiridara is built into a verdant green hillside, affording it sweeping views of the area and onto Mount Phou Si. The eighteen guest rooms (the top category are the Premium Mountain View rooms) feature polished southeast Asian wood furnishings, wood floors, king-size beds and large rain showers (some rooms also have bathtubs). The best ones are on the higher floors with views toward town and some come with small balconies and terraces.
Considering that the Kiridara is located away from most of the sights, you are not likely to spend much time at the hotel during the day. Breakfast is served in a light-filled room or on a small patio in front of the hotel, while cocktails can be had on a large terrace with low couch seating and a groovy soundtrack playing at night. Kiridara is owned by a local architect who hired Thai Ativa Hospitality (the group behind Trisara in Phuket) to manage the property and the opening general manager hailed from the One & Only Maldives. The combination gives Kiridara a nice vibe that feels professional but hardly chain-y. The staff is lovely and tries hard to accommodate requests (the most common of which is a shuttle into town, since the main drag is about a 5-minute drive and 8-minite bike ride away). There’s also a small spa on the premises.
Upon arriving during my trip here in November 2011, I was a bit taken aback by the fact that across the street from the Kiridara lies a rather large construction site, which interrupts the otherwise lovely views. On the other hand, after the relentless crowds and traffic of the town center, I enjoyed coming back to a Beer Lao on the terrace of the Kiridara, so for me, the pros of staying slightly away from the buzz far outweighed the cons. This is a great option for travelers who don’t expect round-the-clock service and who can appreciate a laidback vibe. Rooms from $160.
Run by Angsana hotel group, this guest house is housed in a former royal residence and lies a bit off the beaten path but still within walking distance to the center of town. Unlike many of the dark-teak interiors of other guest houses, the ones at Souvannaphoum are done in light colors: white walls and furniture, with touches of reds and orange. Some come with balconies; the best ones are the suites in La Résidence wing. There’s a pool on the premises and the garden setting gives the property a deeply serene vibe. Rooms from $155.
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