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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 October 2018

Hotel insider: Avani+ Luang Prabang, Laos

This centrally-located property is just a few minutes from the famous night market and some of the area's most notable cultural attractions

The hotel is positioned in a great spot, just 10 minutes from the airport and across the road from the famous Luang Prabang night market. Minor Hotel Group
The hotel is positioned in a great spot, just 10 minutes from the airport and across the road from the famous Luang Prabang night market. Minor Hotel Group

The welcome

Despite being met by the usual beaming faces most of us find at the entrance to any hotel, it’s the central location that proves the most welcoming part of my arrival. As I pull up in my transfer, it’s immediately obvious looking around that I’ll be right at home here. Once inside the lobby, the refreshing welcome iced tea cools me off nicely as the paperwork formalities are completed. Then it’s a short walk and a flight of stairs to the room with a bellboy in tow.

The neighbourhood

The Mekong River is a short distance from the hotel. Mekong Kingdoms
The Mekong River is a short distance from the hotel. Courtesy Mekong Kingdoms

Holidaymakers will be hard-pressed to find a more handy spot to bunker down in this small ancient town that was World Heritage listed in 1995. A 10-minute drive from Luang Prabang International Airport, the boutique-style hotel, which was once the French officers’ quarters, is surrounded by mountains and greenery, and the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers are also nearby. For those ­seeking culture, there are more than 30 Buddhist ­temples within the vicinity and a night market springs into action across the road from 5pm daily. Additionally, there are plenty of cafes, restaurants and tour companies offering a number of activities across the region within walking distance.

The room

Rooms are bright and spacious with views of the courtyard. Minor Hotel Group
Rooms are bright and spacious with views of the courtyard. Minor Hotel Group

I’m staying in an Avani deluxe pool view room – the category between the standard and the suite options. It’s a decent-sized space on the second floor of the hotel’s ­colonial-style building, with its own private terrace. There are separate shower and toilet cubicles and a his-and-hers vanity set-up. I battle with the shower on first use, as the lever to switch the flow from the hand-held option to the rain shower head feels like it hasn’t been used in a while, and getting out onto the balcony is also far more difficult than it should be due as a result of heavy jamming bi-fold doors.

The service

Main Street Bar and Grill has an al fresco area in which to enjoy a meal. Minor Hotel Group
Main Street Bar and Grill has an al fresco area in which to enjoy a meal. Minor Hotel Group

Given the low occupancy levels when I stay, it’s obvious hotel staff aren’t under a great deal of pressure. Our waiter in the hotel’s only restaurant spends a decent amount of time with us as our lunchtime meal is prepared, offering welcome insight into Laos and its culture, although he does linger a little longer than necessary and it becomes slightly awkward. I’m impressed by the head chef, who goes out of his way to cater to my dietary needs, coming to speak to me personally each time I dine.

The scene

The pool area is a tranquil spot that is positioned under a big Banyan Tree. Minor Hotel Group
The pool area is a tranquil spot that is positioned under a big Banyan Tree. Minor Hotel Group

I’m here during monsoon season, so I can count the number of other guests I see on one hand, which makes for a quiet stay and a subdued vibe. It’s too hot to sit outside for long, and with just one restaurant and two bar areas on the property, that’s where most of the action is – at meal times at least.

The food

Main Street Bar and Grill is the sole dining option, so if you’re here a few days, you’d do well to venture out after the first few meals. The street-front bistro is internationally focused but has a decent selection of local fare for those interested to try it. Breakfast is a minimalistic buffet-style affair that’s elevated by a la carte options, including the breakfast burrito, shakshuka and fer khuway flat rice noodle soup. Light bite lunch dishes like buffalo carpaccio and lime-cured wild tilapia (direct from the nearby Mekong River) start from 68,000 Lao kip (Dh29), while dinner mains like river prawns and filet mignon cost around 225,000 kip (Dh97).

Loved

The yoga pavilion is an extension of the gym setup at the resort. Minor Hotel Group
The yoga pavilion is an extension of the gym setup at the resort. Minor Hotel Group

The location. It’s so great being just a few steps from the attractions. The yoga pavilion is very cool, too.

Hated

A deluxe pool view room with terrace overlooking the pool. Minor Hotel Group
A deluxe pool view room with terrace overlooking the pool. Minor Hotel Group

Having to battle with the facilities – even outside of peak hours, regular checks should be made to ensure everything functions correctly.

The verdict

Luang Prabang. Laos.; Night Market. Michelle Chaplow / Avani
The night market in Luang Prabang is a big tourist attraction. Michelle Chaplow / Avani

One of the best options for those travellers who want to be within walking distance of the town’s most notable temples, the nearby river and night market.

The bottom line

Rooms at Avani+ Luang ­Prabang start from 1.6 million kip (Dh696) a night, including breakfast, taxes and Wi-Fi.

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Read more:

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