Wandersleeps: 7 of the best hotels in Luang Prabang, Laos

Its rich culture and elegant architecture has made this Laos city a cool classic. Here are seven sustainable stays from which to enjoy it

3 mins

1. 3 Nagas

3 Nagas, Luang Prabang, Laos (3 Nagas/M Gallery)

3 Nagas, Luang Prabang, Laos (3 Nagas/M Gallery)

Built from teak and rosewood borne by elephants across the Nam Khan River, Khamboua House is an exquisite example of local Lao architecture, sitting pretty behind the frangipani blossom. Part of 3 Nagas – three buildings straddling the quiet main Luang Prabang street – it’s named for the naga, fabled water serpents, and the protectors of Laos. Built in 1903 by a royal mandarin, intimate Khamboua House overlooks a secret garden sloping towards the slow-flow river. Perfect for a hibiscus-infused tequila cocktail amid fragrant flowers. The team are also dedicated to keeping the local streets sweeter too: 3 Nagas staff join Trash Hero Laos collectors in picking up rubbish around the neighbourhood once a month.

More information: 3-nagas.com

2. Sofitel Luang Prabang

Sofitel Luang Prabang, Laos (enzocreation.com)

Sofitel Luang Prabang, Laos (enzocreation.com)

Cocooning guests amid lily ponds and flowered gardens set within the walls of a dressed-up French colonial prison, Sofitel Luang Prabang is now a quiet sanctuary off the town centre. The elegant flood-lit pool is a treat, too, after a day strolling the town’s gilded temples and betel palm-stuffed alleys. At the canopied Governor’s Grill, dine on vegetarian or vegan – flagged on the menu as Eat Like An Elephant – and support the Elephant Conservation Center, which strives for the survival of the last herds of Asian eles in mountainous Laos. Cinephiles have extra reasons to book: once a year the Sofitel becomes the town’s social magnet for the Luang Prabang Film Festival, a buzzy celebration of Asian movies. 

More information: sofitel-luangprabang.com

3. Amantaka

Monks in Luang Prabang, Laos (Shutterstock)

Monks in Luang Prabang, Laos (Shutterstock)

With its cloistered feel,  this lovingly restored old French hospital whispers ‘lemongrass-refreshing retreat’. You’ll want one of the pool suites – cosseted sanctums of calm. Amantaka, from tripitaka, means ‘teaching of the Buddha’. It’s a philosophy not only in name: Amantaka offers insider access to Luang Prabang’s deeply rooted cultural lore. A private visit to the archive of Buddhist photography reveals glimpses of more than a century of Theravada Buddhism monastic life; witness saffron-robed novice monk life at the Buddhist Academy north of town; and learn the beliefs of the religion with a local abbot in a private class and temple tour.

More information: aman.com/resorts/amantaka

4. Villa Santi

Villa Sanit, Luang Prabang, Laos (Shutterstock)

Villa Sanit, Luang Prabang, Laos (Shutterstock)

A 19th-century villa blending Lao vernacular and French whimsy on main street, Villa Santi is an ode to the lives of the Lao royal family.  The mansion-turned-hotel once belonged to Queen Kamphane, wife of Sisavangvong, penultimate king of Laos. You’ll want a royal suite for the full immersion in royal history, all gleaming rosewood floors. Rise early to gift rice to saffron-robed monks in the dawn hour during the daily tak bat almsgiving. By day learn to paint with students from the Fine Arts school; by night watch dancers perform Fon Nangkeo, once a for-royal-eyes-only spectacle. 

More information: villasantihotel.com/villa-santi-hotel

5. Belmond La Residence Phou Vao

Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao, Luang Prabang, Laos (Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao)

Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao, Luang Prabang, Laos (Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao)

Views from the forested Phou Vao hill, where Lao princes would fly their kites, catch the glinting golden stupa of Mount Phousi, the sacred anchor of the temple town of Luang Prabang. It’s a secluded, peaceful spot to meditate on the spiritual life of ‘the Land of a Million Elephants and White Parasol’, cushioned by the mellow vibe at La Résidence Phou Vao. With the Belmond + You initiative, prepare bear snacks for endangered moon bears, craft clay vessels with pottery makers, and visit a female-owned weaving enterprise promoting ethical fashion.

More information: belmond.com/hotels/asia/laos/luang-prabang/belmond-la-residence-phou-vao

6. Rosewood Luang Prabang

Silk lanterns in Luang Prabang, Laos (Shutterstock)

Silk lanterns in Luang Prabang, Laos (Shutterstock)

The fairy-tale stay in the tropical trees at Rosewood Luang Prabang promises blissful isolation. Bill Bensley, an American architect based in Bangkok, crafted an intimate curio-filled getaway outside of balmy Luang Prabang. Escape to luxury tent canvas and beautiful rooms set by the gentle babble of the Nam Dong River. The hilltop tented rooms are lit by silk lanterns and decorated with embroidered clothing from Lao’s ethnic minorities. Forage the forests for herbs and veg and learn to cook royal Lao cuisine with the hotel chef. The hotel’s commitment to culinary excellence extends to its neighbours too: a Rosewood hospitality training school for locals is due to open in 2022.

More information: rosewoodhotels.com/en/luang-prabang

7. Avani + Luang Prabang

Water buffalo (Shutterstock)

Water buffalo (Shutterstock)

Wrap-around Avani + Luang Prabang blends vintage French flair with a sleek, contemporary feel sealing its peaceful courtyard from the bustle outside. A beautiful pool, under the shade of a sacred Bodhi tree, is at the heart of this town centre hotel. A green and grassroots ethos is core to Avani +: no plastics, high recruitment of staff from the community, and a focus on supporting Luang Prabang food growers. Think porridge with buffalo milk from pioneering Lao Buffalo Dairy, rice from Living Land Lao organic farm, and paper and soap wrapping made from naturally shed tree bark. And for sundown drinks? Bamboo straws made by initiatives Bio Bamboo Laos and BambooLao.

More information: avanihotels.com/en/luang-prabang

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