The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel -

IT’S not the flashiest place in town— La Res­i­dence Phou Vao takes that ti­tle — but the Ap­sara wins out for its com­bi­na­tion of au­then­tic­ity, charm, price and lo­ca­tion.

The ho­tel com­prises two build­ings about 20m apart on the banks of the Nam Khan, and in the heart of Luang Pra­bang’s his­toric dis­trict. One build­ing houses the su­pe­rior rooms (as well as the ex­cel­lent restau­rant); the other, the stan­dard rooms. Up­stairs rooms have ter­races over­look­ing the tran­quil river, and the Ap­sara is blessed with one of the most peace­ful lo­ca­tions in town.

In the French style, the su­pe­rior build­ing be­gan life in the 1960s as a store house and later be­came a club for French ex­pats be­fore English­man Ivan Scholte bought the prop­erty and turned it into a bou­tique ho­tel.

The rooms have creak­ing tim­ber floor­boards, shut­tered win­dows, rat­tan chairs, desks, show­ers and big baths, and brightly coloured soft fur­nish­ings (the in­te­rior is the work of a prom­i­nent Bangkok de­signer) evoke the hues of monks’ robes.

And there’s a nice sense of hu­mour at play here as well. The ho­tel com­pen­dium warns: ‘‘ Mrs Choun­naly’s beauty salon on the Mekong will do a sim­ple wash and blow dry; any at­tempt at more than this may end up with you look­ing like Imelda Mar­cos.’’ Rooms from $US55 ($65) .

www.theap­ Gary Walsh

Peace and plenty: Foyer of the Ap­sara Ho­tel

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