Squidged between Vietnam and Thailand, Laos is a long-time backpacker favourite. Despite this, the Southeast Asian destination is far from just a country of budget hostels and cheap guesthouses. So whether you’re coming to admire the Franco-colonial architecture in Vientiane, gaze over the Mekong in Luang Prabang, or take an all-thrills adventure in Vang Vieng, there’s an excellent place to rest your head. Here are the best hotels in Laos.
One of the most luxurious hotels in the country, this member of the Rosewood group occupies a bloom-filled valley that’s utterly secluded yet just 10 minutes from the centre of Luang Prabang. Bill Bensley-designed rooms dazzle with carved teak and jewel tones, and chef Sebastien Rubis serves farm-to-table chicken curries and river fish from The Great House Restaurant. The biggest draw, however, is the experiences – craft clay vases with artisans and plunge into serene waterfall pools.
Overlooking the Nam Song River and Namsong Bridge, this four-star boutique in Vang Vieng is a cut above. Take a refreshing dip in the 16m (52ft) pool or have a massage therapist pummel away your worries before applying warm pouches of aromatic Laotian herbs. Rattan-filled rooms have views of the surrounding mountains, and Restaurant du Crabe d’Or serves goat cheese entrées sourced from a Vang Vieng farm, as well as signature Lao dishes such as Or Lam beef stew.
Set among the temples and stilted wooden homes on Sakkaline Road in Luang Prabang, this French colonial villa is a great place to watch orange-robed monks pass your window. Despite an acquisition by the Accor Group, the rooms maintain their distinct Indochinese character with dark wood furnishings and woven silk throws. Tuck into Mok Paa – steamed fish in banana leaf – at the restaurant, or sip Lao cocktails at Nagini bar. There’s a free shuttle service to the sister hotel, the Sofitel, where you can use the gym and outdoor pool.
Peeking out from the lush greenery of the surrounding lily ponds, Maison Dalabua is a stone’s throw from the Unesco-protected centre of Luang Prabang. Sister restaurant Manda de Laos offers family-style Laotian cuisine by the water – try the tasting menu for two. There’s a foliage-ringed pool for chilling and a spa spread over two renovated Laotian wooden houses – the signature treatment is a hot stone aromatherapy massage.
Built for the Lao royal family in the 1900s, these two eclectic villas connected by fragrant garden paths and twisting corridors are a wonderful place in which to get lost. Sink your feet into a lime and lemongrass-infused bath in the spa, float in the 15m pool or settle into a book in the library. Both the Luang Prabang city centre and the Mekong riverbank are about 10 minutes’ walk away. Indochinese-style rooms feel more like a family home than a hotel, and the restaurant serves artistic Western and Lao plates.
Converted into a hotel by Swede Urban Paulsson in 2007, this handsome Indochinese villa faces onto the Bamboo Bridge, in the northwest corner of the historic centre of Luang Prabang. Most rooms look onto the Mekong and contain handcrafted wooden furniture and vibrant embroidered pillows. Take the provided electrical car to the Palm Tree spa to take a dip in the saltwater pool and receive a lemongrass-scented body scrub. Viewpoint Restaurant offers generous portions of aromatic Lao curry and Tom Yam fish soup.
Home to the only swimming pool in Don Daeng island, this luxurious river-facing lodge is nestled among landscaped tropical gardens. Each wooden bungalow comes with a private terrace overlooking either the river or the garden. The restaurant serves both Laotian and Western dishes with panache; follow up at the bar with signature cocktails based around lao khao, a local rice-based alcohol. Aromatherapy massages and facials at the spa use herbs picked from the resort’s own garden.
Deep in Hin Boun National Park, this collection of 16 bungalows is in the middle of nowhere – and that’s precisely the appeal. Most rooms face onto the lazy Nam Hinboun River, where you can watch village life tick by. If you’re the more active sort, head out on a kayak or swim in the hotel’s own Blue Lagoon. Round off the day with Laotian or Western food in the riverside restaurant. Kong Lor Cave is just 2km away.
The AVANI+ in Luang Prabang is one of the few Old Town hotels with a pool – and what a pool it is, 25m in length and ringed by loungers. Other amenities include a small but impressive spa offering deep-tissue massages, and complimentary bicycle hire from reception. The dreamy rooms come with light-wood furnishings, strong showers and traditional Hmong artwork. For dinner, you’ll find several acclaimed Laotian restaurants nearby.