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Within these UNESCO-restored walls, Hotel de la Paix preserves Laotian heritage in a way that creates a hip and trendy option for those exploring Luang Prabang, the world’s only World Heritage town. Features of the colonial governors’ house and the watchtowers from the old prison remain, keystones from which contemporary design emanate. Standing ovation for architect Duangrit Bunnag…
Set around a pillared courtyard, each of the 23 suites remain true to the property's history, featuring French colonial architecture with à la mode details: white-washed walls, high ceilings, shuttered windows and stone floors accompanied by draped beds and bathroom walls that can open fully into your private frangipani-tinted garden. Those looking for a more secluded accommodation choice should stay in one of the four Pool Suites each complete with an indigo-tiled pool, while those wanting views over Luang Prabang should book into a corner suite with their iconic watchtowers.
Chances are you haven't tried flavours quite like the authentic cuisine served at Kaipen (the on-site restaurant named after a surprisingly tasty river weed, should be an oxymoron really, which is an ingredient in many Laotian dishes). Mekong river fish, grilled buffalo or Laos beef curry… whatever takes your fancy; it'll be packed with fresh ingredients from the hotel's own organic garden and nearby market. Ponder over the menu in the quiet of your private terrace or enjoy the views from the second floor of this traditional wooden house overlooking the courtyard. If you'd rather venture out, there's always a complimentary shuttle-bus to take you to nearby sister hotel 3 Nagas, widely praised with its prestigious Conde Nast award. If you just can't get enough and want to transport these flavours home, try your hand at Hotel de la Paix's on-site Ka Toke cooking school, complete with visits to the local market.
This rustic village feel underlies every part of life at Hotel de la Paix, particularly evident in both the spa's setting and its treatments which include spices, coconut and coffee to sooth and revitalise. Tucked away through the landscaped gardens, beyond the two swimming pools, at the back of the main courtyard you'll find the Subai lounge and library, aptly named meaning 'relax'. No matter how hard you workaholics try, you can't help but slow down and de-stress when you're sunk into a leather armchair, good book and cocktail in hand.
The hotel has complimentary bikes on offer to peruse the town's UNESCO heritage area, which is home to a wealth of intricate temples around the grand Royal Palace. Kick-start your cultural Laotian experience by peddling into the centre to watch the daily procession of 300-400 monks, accompanied by a guide from the hotel if you prefer. Spend the rest of your days visiting the Kuangsi waterfalls and don't leave without taking a boat trip to the swirling pool where the Mekong and Nam Ou join, attempting to count the number of Buddha statues in the Pak Ou caves.
Hotel de la Paix is a beautiful and historically-rich property, just secluded enough to feel like a retreat yet close enough to civilisation to never be without something to do.
Holly, Original Traveller