Travel

A new ad­di­tion in Luang Pra­bang, the Az­erai ho­tel makes for a good base when ex­plor­ing this soul­ful UNESCOlisted old town. By Lim Chee Wah

Time Out Singapore - - News - Edited by Iliyas Ong

A new, her­itage-rich ho­tel in Luang Pra­bang, Laos

A REG­U­LAR FIG­URE IN all the top ho­tel lists, Aman is pre­ceded by an il­lus­tri­ous rep­u­ta­tion, known for its sto­ried lo­ca­tions, min­i­mal­ist yet time­less de­signs and as­tro­nom­i­cal prices. The good news is, Aman founder Adrian Zecha has a new ho­tel brand that could just be the an­ti­dote to your Aman lust that doesn't de­plete your life sav­ings.

Named Az­erai, the brand re­cently opened its first property in the UNESCO World Her­itage Site of Luang Pra­bang in Laos. Po­si­tioned as an af­ford­able lux­ury, Az­erai Luang Pra­bang's el­e­gance and lib­eral use of nat­u­ral wood are a nod to Aman – but be­yond that, it's a dis­tinct ho­tel in it­self.

De­spite be­ing smack in the mid­dle of the town's her­itage core, the hand­some ho­tel has a re­laxed vibe. Ev­ery­thing re­volves around the pool in the cen­tre, shaded by a stun­ning 120-year-old Banyan tree.

Although its de­sign lan­guage bor­rows heav­ily from colo­nial French in­flu­ences, Az­erai Luang Pra­bang keeps flour­ishes to a min­i­mum. Clean lines, func­tional fur­ni­ture and a re­strained aes­thetic give the ho­tel – and guests – room to breathe and re­lax. The rooms open out to ei­ther a bal­cony over­look­ing the pool or a pri­vate court­yard, and they all fea­ture twin van­i­ties, free WiFi, a cof­fee ma­chine, rain

Az­erai Luang Pra­bang could be the an­ti­dote to your Aman lust that doesn't de­plete your life sav­ings

show­ers and a host of other ameni­ties.

In terms of lo­ca­tion, Az­erai Luang Pra­bang is per­fect. You’re not en­tirely re­moved from the town’s daily life: the ho­tel’s just across the junc­tion from the main street, where you’ll find the night mar­ket and also the high­est con­cen­tra­tion of restau­rants, cafés and tem­ples. Mount Phousi is also right op­po­site – the mod­est hill serves as the un­of­fi­cial town cen­tre, where peo­ple climb to the top of a gilded stupa to take in a breath­tak­ing view of the town.

From that van­tage point, you’ll un­der­stand the ap­peal of this his­toric town. Luang Pra­bang is a nar­row penin­sula where the mighty Mekong and Nam Khan rivers meet, and it’s pro­tected by a fortress of moun­tain ranges. This lush and fer­tile land was once the royal cap­i­tal of the coun­try, where Bud­dhist cul­ture and spir­i­tu­al­ity flour­ished. In fact, the lat­ter still de­fines much of life here, ev­i­dent from the pro­por­tion­ately large num­ber of ac­tive tem­ples in this small town and the per­se­ver­ance of the daily alms-giv­ing rit­ual. Saffron-robed monks still roam the streets, just as the co­conut trees here loom taller than the man-made struc­tures, many of which date back to the 19th cen­tury.

While many an­cient towns in the re­gion are tran­si­tion­ing into the moder­nity, Luang Pra­bang still feels like it’s stuck in time. And at Az­erai Luang Pra­bang, you’ll get the best of both worlds: di­rect ac­cess to this old­world charm with­out los­ing the com­fort of mod­ern-day con­ve­niences.

Set­thathi­rath Rd, Hua Xieng Vil­lage, Luang Pra­bang (+856 7126 2333, az­erai.com/luang-pra­bang). Rooms from USD250/ night (about $350).

The pool is the fo­cal point at Az­erai Luang Pra­bang

The view of Luang Pra­bang from Mount Phousi

The main street of Luang Pra­bang, where tem­ples co-ex­ist along­side cafés and restau­rants

El­e­gant rooms at Az­erai

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