Saigon hotels review
Park Hyatt pool
Before you book into a hotel bear two things in mind. At older hotels the plugs are often French-style two-pin deep-socket affairs that will stymie some adaptors. Secondly, while faster internet connections and broadband are developing fast, general surfing speed often depends largely on how many guests are logged on at any one time. As internet usage in Vietnam tends to be private rather than corporate, nights can get jammed up.
We begin survey at the heart of the city at the Opera House. Most of the better establishments radiate outwards from this central district. So here’s the crop of the top Ho Chi Minh business hotels. The metro digging has not directly affected the Park Hyatt, Continental, Sheraton, Caravelle and, farther down, the Asiana Saigon InterContinental.
The swish Park Hyatt Saigon, right across the road from the splendid Opera House, returned 14 June, 2015, after a three-month shutdown for a top-to-toe revamp of rooms, public spaces, the pool, and meetings facilities. The décor at the Park Hyatt Saigon is quiet and subtle, classical with a contemporary feel. It is an East meets West palette where most people will feel at home. Large paintings adorn walls, and from the lobby on you get an enormous sense of space. There is plenty of natural light. Service is brisk and friendly. Dining is suitably stylish with menus to match. There’s Square One for Vietnamese and great “pho”, Opera for laid-back Italian with a small alfresco patch overlooking Lam Son Square (savour fine wine by the thimble or gallon), the clubby yet informal Park Lounge, and the splendidly chic split-level 2 Lam Son that manages to cram in extraordinary detail and texture while still managing to remain understated, dark, and packed with snuggeries beneath gauzy drapes. Check out the martini bar here and run your fingers over etched wood and metal.
The Park Hyatt offers 252 bright and spacious rooms with marble-tiled bathrooms and rain showers. There is fast Wi-Fi and broadband access and a large flat-screen TV for those who prefer to catch up on the news in style. A cable to hook up your laptop is conveniently placed in the work-desk drawer along with a useful adaptor plug. Electric sockets are three-pin square along with the traditional two-pin options. Also find a flat laptop-friendly safe, iPod dock, a small bedside clock with a classical dial, and a nice work desk by the window. The room is easy on the eye with light tones and olive-gold cushions resting atop an invitingly plump white bed. The bathrooms are well lit so there’s no make-up or shaving fumbles in the morning. The glass shower cubicle offers a marble bench for those who prefer to shower slowly, small touches that set this hotel apart as a class address and one of the best Saigon business hotels.
Some rooms have been set aside for the physically challenged and, for those who prefer not to be financially challenged but expect all the perks of a top-drawer five-star, there are specials on offer from time to time. A pillar-less ballroom of 550sq m will set event-planners’ hearts throbbing while after hours, business travellers may wish to unwind with a spa treatment, a fitness workout, or some quick laps in the 20m outdoor pool.
The entire pool area has been greened and refreshed to give it a tropical feel with rich foliage, sunning spots, and meandering paths. Catch some rays. With a location smack in the middle of business and shopping – and entertainment by the block – guests only have to step out to get their city trawl started. Pick this hotel for fashionable events, corporate meetings or just plain old fashioned business travel.
Around the corner is the once undisputed top address in town, the art nouveau Caravelle Saigon that looks over the Opera House for grand views of this green city. This address turned a gracious 50 in 2009 and completed its first phase of enhancements December 2014 with a splendid new lobby featuring cream marble and charcoal inlay. The feel is cool, uncluttered, and contemporary, with a flash of crystal chandeliers overhead and the brisk attentive service that is the hallmark of any stay here. The branded shops and outlets have been muscled out by an enlarged lobby offering generous elbow room for quick-stepping guests to mingle without mangle as they head to the renamed Café de l’Opera and the country’s very first Champagne Corner in collaboration with Moet Hennessy. Find a tapas kitchen too. The room renovations planned for 2015 are still on hold but work is expected at some point.
In-room the gold-weave fabric and light pinewood of yore will give way to contemporary grey tones with silver accents and dark timber floors. A birds and blossoms mural hold up the head wall offsetting the corporate charcoal elsewhere. Expect white-wood glass-panel wardrobes with muslin ‘curtains’ as soon as you enter. It’s a feminine touch, almost Parisian in feel, that contrasts well with the ‘male’ Top Suit interiors. There are lots of three-pin multi-plug sockets so road warriors can travel in peace armed with as many gadgets as they require.
A plump bed with deep support latex mattress looks onto a flat-screen wall-mounted television and a pillow menu is on hand with everything from contour to buckwheat options for obdurate necks. A rich mahogany table, somewhat compact in size, offers working space accompanied by a pale brown velvet chair and an easy chair for longer reclines.
The new rooms promise free WiFi, electric kettles, iron and ironing board, laptop-friendly safe, two 500ml bottles of water, powerful reading lights to keep you going comfortably into the wee hours, floral swirl tan carpets, and a compact but neat bathroom with Thann toiletries, a weighing scale, and rain shower. Access the new rooms using electronic proximity key cards. Perhaps one of the best, if simplest, features of the new rooms, is the ease of managing light switches. These are simple, well placed, and clearly marked.
The Kara Salon & Spa at Caravelle offers 750sq m of space for wellness treatments along with a 24-hour fitness centre and a terrace pool with swim-up bar. Pop across to the Vegas Club slot machines (casinos are getting big in Vietnam) or, if parked on a Club Floor, retreat to the ninth-floor Club Lounge with its free flow of drinks and evening cocktails and canapes.
And you don’t want to miss the signature must-see rooftop Saigon Saigon Bar, which has been operating since 1959 when it held the distinction of being the ‘highest’ perch in Saigon. The place gets seriously bopping of an evening with Latino music (until 1am six nights a week), dancing, and breezy views in all directions. In all, Caravelle is a brisk address with intuitive staff that ranks high on our Saigon business hotels review.
Sheraton Grand Tower Studio
Right behind the Caravelle, at 88 Dong Khoi, the Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers is a big, city hotel in every sense of the word. The lobby is traditional with space to swing a horse by the tail. It is a relatively busy lobby, constantly in motion with a lounge bar tucked to one side. Rooms are light and airy with lots of dreamy white and corporate blue. This is very much a business hotel despite the pink exterior. The bathrooms are compact, but the separate shower with waist-level massage jets is a luxurious compensation. The in-room safe can handle a notebook or small laptop, and WiFi may be free with certain packages.
The Grand Tower at the Sheraton has 112 studios and suites and this is the premium focus of this address. Grand Tower rooms are kitted out in corporate browns and earth tones with unfussy, contemporary, decor. The Grand Tower check-in is on the fifth floor (this is a separate tower from the main block) and there’s a well-lit high-ceiling lounge overlooking the alfresco pool, with evening canapes and cocktails and breakfast. Staff is smart and and the service exceedingly attentive.
In a 53sq m Grand Tower Studio expect a dark wood foyer with wardrobes stocking an iron and ironing board, a notebook safe, a roomy sleeping area with a tan carpet, tall gauze curtains with city or river views beyond, a cozy alcove for the work desk and data port with four three-pin multi-plug sockets (there are lots of sockets in the room including on either side of the bed), iPod dock, 42-inch LCD TV, DVD player, Bose surround sound system, pipe reading lights, and complimentary WiFi. The bathroom features a window-side soaking tub and a large cradle-mounted shower.
For tired limbs there’s the Aqua Day Spa on Level 5 with all manner of pummelling and unguents available. Other recreation and relaxation options include tennis, squash, and swimming. This Saigon business hotel is well equipped to handle meetings and conventions. For large banquets and conferences, the spacious 739sq m grand ballroom can hold 700 guests (sit-down) or 1,000 (cocktail).
The Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers offers a total 2,500sq m of space for small corporate meetings, MICE events, or launch functions. This is among the top Saigon conference hotels. Don’t pick it for its looks; pick it for service and location at the heart of town, a hop from the Opera House and right next to the shopper-mad Dong Khoi Street.
For executives shopping for Saigon longstay residences or in-and-out business travellers, the hotel offers good service and a central location. At the end of the day, enjoy the open views up at the Level 23 Signature Restaurant, gawp from the breezy balcony Wine Bar, or head for the slot machines at the Palazzo Club.
Also in the city centre just a block from the Notre-Dame Cathedral, is a jaunty new contender, the Hotel des Arts Saigon MGallery Collection (August 2015), quite a mouthful but a breath of fresh air with a distinct new style under the watchful gaze of the young and impassioned French general manager Julie Bruley. The hotel serves up 168 keys including 16 suites in a chic modern Indochina take on things. Curved corners in bedrooms are the first sign that this design is rather different, with its minimalism and panoramic TV-set windows (also with curved corners), all creating a soft and welcoming environment sans sharp corners. Expect gleaming wood floors, pale furniture largely in cream and an oversized plain white bed that is inviting in its simplicity. The test of the pudding… dive in. Think neat black trim echoing a fashionable Dior dress and you get a sense of this Parisian style hideaway that should be top of anyone’s pick of Saigon boutique hotels. A plaster scalloped ceiling creates texture while occasional flashes of colour offset the pastel mood.
The feeling is more home or apartment than impersonal hotel and this is what will click with both business travellers, romantics and the cognoscenti keen on sampling something different and non-cookie-cutter. Hotel des Arts is a small luxury hotel with high standards of service and personalisation, something it is well placed to provide with the small number of rooms and emphasis on guest satisfaction.
Reverie Saigon suite
There’s a free minibar, complimentary WiFi, Nespresso machine for a morning cup of Joe, huge flatscreen TV with DVD, jewellery safe (your laptop may not squeeze in here), a classic bedside clock, mustard settee, pastel wallpaper and easy-access silver one-press light switches. The satin drapes are offset by the floral purple carpet. Toiletries in the bath come from Chopard (and Hermes in Suites). There’s a soaking tub, rain shower, twin vanities, and an electronic Japanese potty that will keep the bottom briskly pampered. Three pin crow’s feet sockets are the norm. Rooms vary in design themes but are equally plush. Given the marble finery at the entrance, the in-room feel is comparatively understated and quiet.
A Junior Suite is vast with mottled blue carpets and mother-of-pearl bird mosaic on the wall. Find an ornate gilt-edged settee, intricate tile-floor bathroom with small standalone tub by the window and a walk-in closet. Another thing that is never lacking, is grand views in all directions. There’s 62sq m of stretch space here. The hotel’s unique look is the result of a collaboration by four leading Italian furniture designers and there is no dearth of imagination when it comes to beds, fabric, texture and colours. Some rooms are in pastel textures redolent of Louis XVI with strong Parisian echoes, others are muscular and masculine with puckered brown leather headboards and timber floors. Take your pick. There are versatile function rooms for small corporate meetings too. For larger splashy events opt for the La Scala grand ballroom. Dining includes Italian and Cantonese, while apres-work to loosen those muscles, there’s a two-level 1,200sq m spa and wellness facility as well as an outdoor ‘resort-style’ swimming pool. If this is not glitzy enough, try out the hotel’s Rolls-Royce Phantoms or fly off from the hotel’s helipad. Alternatively, it is a quick stroll to the river.
Situated on the busy riverside boulevard with splendid open views of the snaking waterway is New World’s sister hotel, the 5-star Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon, also under the Marriott group. The hotel has 319 rooms, including 17 suites, a rooftop pool, a fitness centre with sauna and massage, and conference facilities. A soaring atrium leading up 21 floors to a skylight is an architectural signature.
On the Renaissance Club Floor (soft refurbished in 2011) guests get a stack of complimentary nibbles, cocktails and breakfast as well as free local calls and some complimentary use of a boardroom. The Renaissance Club Lounge provides free Internet access. WiFi is available in public areas. New-look Executive rooms serve up bright blond-wood features, padded headboards, pastel checked carpets, and teal-green bed runners. Expect a flat-screen TV, iPod dock, WiFi (charged, but free for Marriott members) and a small flat safe that is not quite laptop size.
There is coffee and tea-making equipment, an iron, and a compact bathroom with a bathtub/shower combination and weighing scales. A throwback to the good old days are the large brass knobs of the radio and music console next to the bed. Deluxe rooms on floors five to sixteen get a soft refurbishment too mid to late 2012.
Conference and meeting facilities can take up to 136 people for a sit-down banquet and about 200 in a cocktail setting. The Renaissance has a laid back style and is well positioned on the river with open views that will appeal to holidaymakers. It is a family friendly Saigon hotel that can rustle up business muscle if required. This is a quieter location within a minute’s walk to Dong Khoi and all that shopping.
A skip and a hop from the Renaissance is 283-room river-facing Lotte Legend Hotel Saigon (formerly Legend Hotel). This is a simple and elegant pale pink building with neat square windows. Inside is hushed with marbled floors and cream tones. Two enormous metal horses look onto the lobby lounge (a carryover from the previous incarnation) and a fountain under a bright yellow-and-blue skylight surrounded by Roman bathhouse pillars. Spot a Khai Silk outlet. Outside in a garden setting is a circular pool that catches the sun. Old world and square-cut, it is a professionally run place with bright staff and will appeal to corporate travellers not expecting too much of the room product.
The rooms – with an old fashioned aesthetic – offer cable television, free WiFi, free local calls and tea and coffee-making facilities. Rooms start at a decent 37sq with the Executive Junior Suite weighing in at 72sq m. Executive guests can breakfast in the Executive Lounge, which also offers express check-in, a meeting room, complimentary afternoon snacks and evening cocktails. Think faded blue carpets, unfussy wooden tables, old-style plug sockets (not three-pin square), free WiFi and, the main offering – the Japanese style toilet seat. There are several restaurants and banquet space that accommodates 500 guests. Families will look forward to the services of the Kid Play Center to get tykes off their hands leaving adults some time for play of their own.
Right next door, also facing the river, is the new and very contemporary steel-and-glass 350-room Le Meridien Saigon (mid 2015) that is stirring to life. Walk into a cavernous and minimalist pale grey lobby with red and cream chairs clustered at either end and a central reception backed by a gold mural. the space is devoid of fuss save for a ‘cloud’ chandelier and soaring silver pillars.
The adjacent Latitude 10 is a dark timber-floored lounge and bar, again with a minimal feel and low seating. Overall, the hotel’s initial design welcome will soothe some, or prove too stark or cold for others. Hints of Paris-chic are evident in the in-room modernist cube art (a representation of Saigon with a red dot to mark the hotel’s location).
Take the lift up to the rooms arrayed around a sunlit atrium with mood lights pulsing in changing colours outside every door, and the feel is suddenly hip and mod with a hint of that W DNA lurking underfoot. Purple-charcoal carpets with playful red ribbons provide a motif seen throughout the hotel, and this continues inside the rooms too. A 42sq m Grand Deluxe serves up an efficient work and play space with a see-through black marble glass walled bathroom with soaking tub. There are twin vanities and an overhead shower.
The bedroom features a plump mattress, an L-shaped cream sofa, gold-hue lacquer wall murals, a long work desk with data-port and two three-pin multi-plug sockets (there’s one by the bed too), flat-screen TV, flat laptop safe and iron. Windows are not floor to ceiling but are high enough to afford plenty of light. A 38sq m Premier Classic River View is a compact space, again with a see-through bathroom wall and a tub facing the bed.
Later pop down to the 9th Floor for a splash in the narrow blue-mosaic pool set along a balcony (with a roof overhang alas) to work off any calories and stress. Breezy but not sunny though there is a bright spot under the skylight with water features set apart for a splash and dash. There’s a restaurant here and a well-stocked fitness centre too. Suits in search of function space will find five meeting rooms and a ballroom fronting the river that can handle 250 persons. There’s a nice meeting foyer with river views.
The 533-room New World Hotel Saigon Hotel, close to Ben Thanh market, was the city’s first five-star address and made a splash when it arrived. It is a sprawling, cheerful, building, its former bright mustard exterior replaced by creamy off-white. The spacious lobby tends to be abustle with quick-stepping executive suits and people headed for the lobby Parkview restaurant serving seafood buffets and, living up to its name, looking onto a verdant park through floor-to-ceiling glass walls. There’s shopping too abetted by a handy HSBC ATM machine for quick cash handouts. Expect a pool, a kids’ area, a revamped spa for a Swedish aromatic rubdown, and a fitness centre. Grab a pastry and coffee at the Saigon Bakery and on Sunday mornings enjoy dim sum at Dynasty.
Refurbished Deluxe rooms at the New World Saigon Hotel are tasteful with muted pastel gold-beige and copper tones interspersed with floral weave, sideboards and work desks. Internet access is available at a small charge per day. Also expect a flat-screen LCD television, iron and ironing board, and a modest safe. The toilets offer a bathtub with shower and hairdryer. Also find complimentary tea and coffee-making equipment and a minibar. A 30sq m Executive Club Deluxe Room ups the ante a few notches with a large flat-screen TV, free WiFi, complimentary local calls, and access to the Executive Club Lounge (6am to 11pm). The complimentary breakfast won’t hurt either.
This bustling hotel offers 2,000sq m of function space and business facilities. Across the road is a pleasant park should you dare to stroll. Sporty types can swim at the open-air pool, play tennis, steam up at the sauna, get a massage, or spa out. The New World is a good pick among Saigon business hotels that doubles easily as a leisure address or a Saigon conference hotels venue.
Duxton, quietly efficient
Close by, on Nguyen Hue Boulevard is the quietly stylishDuxton Hotel Saigon. The Duxton certainly tries hard. Staff seem to know what’s going on and are anxious to please. The pace is brisk and the lifts are a decent size – unlike the mini cabin trunks that grind up and down the boutique riverfront buildings – with marble floors to boot. The pastel-beige rooms are surprisingly airy and come with cable TV, mini-bar, ironing board and laptop-size safes. The TV is an older-style boxy flat-panel affair. Expect a glass-top work desk, silk cushions and other touches. Executive Rooms and Suites offer free Broadband (elsewhere it costs US$9 per day; lobby WiFi is free), afternoon tea, breakfast, and shoe polishing service.
The Duxton Hotel Saigon also manages to squeeze in a small outdoor pool on the third floor set in a timber deck, a gym, and well-equipped spa. There are 10 function rooms and small meeting spaces for seminars and corporate get-togethers for ten to 300 guests.
The 305-room InterContinental Asiana Saigon comprises three smart reflective glass blocks – one each for the hotel, residences, and offices. This is part of the Kumho complex. Walk into the lobby to find lots of dark woody tones and a chic sitting area. Deluxe rooms feature speckled carpets and wire swirls on the sliding frosted glass doors that open from bedroom onto the bath.
An orange runner on the bed enlivens the arrangement with a dash of colour. Expect a 42-inch LCD television, DVD, iPhone dock, sink-in cream leather reading chair, ergonomic work chair, iron and ironing board, laptop-size safe, and a standalone bathtub in a smart but somewhat compact bathroom. WiFi is charged alas but remains free for Elite members of the IHG Rewards Club. The work desk has three-pin square plug sockets.
Club InterContinental on the 19th floor serves cocktails with open views of Saigon. An InterContiental Suite offers plenty of wood in a huge well-lit space with parquet floor enlivened by blue swirl carpets and a gold striped bed runner. Find a large dark-wood desk with data port and two three-pin sockets, a large flat-screen TV and a HUGE bathroom with standalone tub. Also expect an iron, laptop-friendly safe, spacious living and dining area with yet another monster TV and a nifty Espresso machine.
The InterContinental is a strong contender for Saigon conference hotels business with a grand ballroom capable of holding 600 people banquet or classroom style. To unwind, pick from the spa, or the health club with a 20m outdoor lap pool encased in see-through glass. Cool, chic, and potentially embarrassing save for the well endowed. Service is attentive and brisk and the hotel location is not bad, five minutes from the Park Hyatt. This is a bit up from the much delayed but under construction Senla Boutique Hotel on Hai Ba Trung street.
The suave and upgraded Sofitel Saigon Plaza on Le Duan Boulevard, also in District 1 but set a little apart from the thrumming centre, is just minutes away by taxi. The lobby is chic, bright and roomy, featuring two enormous spiralling stacked-wood columns.
Opt for a roomy 30sq m Luxury Room (floors 14 to 17) with DVD player, LCD TV, free internet surfing and the heady aroma of L’Occitane toiletries in the bath. The views won’t disappoint either. On higher floors enjoy elegant timber floors, grey patterned headboards, and modular minimalist design. Superior Rooms on lower floors offer more traditional carpeting. This is all a huge jump up from the bland powder greens of yore. Chill out at the Boudoir Lounge or head to the rooftop pool for fine views and undiluted sun. A fitness centre is available for workouts along with a steam bath, sauna and massage facilities.
Nikko’s textures and pastels