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Hotel Highlights

  • A private pool to practice some synchronised swimming (nudge nudge, wink wink)
  • Service to make you smile – never OTT, but never leaving you wanting either
  • The Aman Spa, a destination in itself, despite the sumptuous suites

Overview

Old-world charm meets modern-day convenience in the blissful surrounds of Amantaka, a former colonial hospital with shady verandas. High ceilings and four-posters hark back to the grand old days of travel, while private pools, Bose sound systems and a state-of-the-art spa herald the here and now. Aman enthusiasts will rub their hands with glee as they discover the latest luxury creation from Adrian Zecha.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Amantaka with us:

An Asian Blend Massage for two.

Facilities

View Gallery
Amantaka – Luang Prabang – Laos

Need To Know

Rooms

24 suites, including 16 with private pools.

Check–out

Noon, but flexible; until 6pm you’ll be charged 50 per cent of the nightly rate (after that, an extra night's charge applies). Check-in, 2pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $900.00, excluding tax at 20 per cent.

More details

There is a compulsory half-board charge of US$170++ a day, which includes breakfast, either lunch or dinner, house beverages, airport transfers and daily tours.

Also

Amantaka offers tempting Guest Experiences for immersion into the Luang Prabang scene, including exploring the old city on foot, making a temple offering, or visiting the Buddhist Archive, which showcases restored photos of monastic life dating back to the 19th century.

At the hotel

Free WiFi throughout; library with laptops; gym; yoga studio, boutique and art gallery; gardens. In rooms: Bose stereo, iPod dock, preloaded iPod in Mekong and Amantaka Suites, minibar, Lemongrass House toiletries.

Our favourite rooms

Ouch, tough choice with all those private pools on offer. Pool Suites 14 and 15 both offer views towards temple-topped, mist-swathed Mount Phousi. Khan Pool Suite 7 has an extensive garden hidden beneath tropical trees. The two Amantaka suites are simply enormous, but you might lose each other from time to time.

Poolside

Lucky couples in a pool suite can live the celebrity lifestyle sprawled by their private pond. The main pool is spacious enough for serious swimmers and is nicely cushioned between the gym and spa, depending on your mood.

Spa

The Amantaka Spa boasts steam and sauna rooms and a double Jacuzzi. There are four treatment rooms, where therapists dole out herbal poultices, traditional, oil-free Lao massages, body wraps and exfoliations and beauty-boosting facials.

Packing tips

Pack an iPad to ensure the beautiful people assume you are a novelist or scriptwriter and even more beautiful (in social standing, of course) than them.

Also

A four-night minimum stay applies from 20 December to 3 January. Smoking in outdoor areas only.

Children

Kids are welcome at Amantaka. Cots and extra beds for under-12s are free. In a nice touch, an infant welcome basket is prepared with baby wash and talcum powder. Babysitting is free for the first three hours, then costs US$5 an hour.

Read more

Food & Drink

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Amantaka – Luang Prabang – Laos

Hotel Restaurant

Sample some sensual Lao flavours with mok pa (steamed fish in banana leaf) in the colonital-style Dining Room, or play closer to home with a duck ragout. For a more casual lunch or dinner, stake out the airy Pool Terrace.

Hotel Bar

Combining black-and-white photos of Buddhist monks with elegant teak sofas, rattan armchairs and trad newspaper racks, the Lounge Bar is open on demand for all guests. Enjoy a Laojito: we won’t spoil the surprise.

Last orders

The restaurant is officially open from 7am–10pm, but guests can order meals at any hour in keeping with Aman’s philosophy of ultimate hospitality.

Room service

Available 24 hours, room service spans a selection of Lao and Gallic-influenced dishes.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Mod-colonial to suit the surrounds (it is set in a former French hospital building resonating with old-world charm). By mod we mean modern: make sure Mr Smith doesn’t crack out his parka and start singing Jam anthems.

Top table

Gravitate to the poolside terrace on a balmy evening. Stars above, oil lamps below, this is why we love to travel. For a table that tops all others, request a romantic dinner in the courtyard of your suite, complete with a private butler, traditional Lao

Local Guide

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Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

Sign up for one of the many Aman Experiences beyond the sanctuary that is Taka. Visit the Buddhist Archive, a collection of restored photographs dating back to the 19th century that has been put together by enlightened monks. Well, we’re not sure they are fully ‘enlightened’ in the strictest sense of the word, but they were certainly forward thinking to start their collection in the 1880s. You might also like to spend an afternoon discovering Lao textiles and weaving, visiting Pak Ou caves, or taking an elephant ride through the forest. The concierge can tailor just about any trip or experience to suit.

Local restaurants

Don’t be put off by cheesy images of 1980s castaways. Blue Lagoon (+856 71 253 698; Ban Choumkhong) is an elegant eatery serving up Lao spice and French fare. For authentic Lao cuisine, try casual, café-style Tamarind (+856 (0)20 777 0484) on Ban Wat Nong. Its cooking classes also come highly recommended. For colonial grandeur head to Villa Santi (+856 (0)71 252 157), on Royal Sakkarine Road, a former royal residence with a fab terrace for people-watching.

Local bars

For colonial grandeur head to Villa Santi (+856 (0)71 252 157), on Royal Sakkarine Road, a former royal residence with a fab terrace for people-watching.

Local cafés

Come morning, look no further than Joma Bakery Cafe (+856 71 252 292; Th. Chao Fa Ngum Road; www.joma.biz), famed for its Lao coffee, home-made cakes and feel-good shakes. 

+ Enlarge
Under Mount Phousi

Amantaka

55/3 Kingkitsarath Road, Ban Thongchaleun, Luang Prabang

Amantaka is located in central Luang Prabang, in what was the hospital during French colonial times. The temple district and night market are just a short walk away.

Planes

Several regional airlines offer connections to Luang Prabang International Airport (www.luangprabangairport.com), about five kilometres from the hotel. Amantaka arranges transfers for guests (US$25 a person).

Automobiles

Self-drive is not currently possible in Laos. Luang Prabang is relatively remote so arriving by car is not recommended – capital Vientiane is 10 hours away.

Other

If you're coming from Northern Thailand and the Golden Triangle, slow boats connect border town Huay Xai and stopover Pak Beng en route with Luang Prabang. Luang Say Mekong Cruises (www.luangsay.com) is the most comfortable operator, but it’s hardly Aman.

Reviews

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Amantaka – Luang Prabang – Laos

Anonymous review

By Mr & Mrs Smith.

Celebrity spotting has never really been my strong suit. Once, at Nell’s in New York, I spent a whole evening sitting next to Al Pacino thinking he was an over-tanned, gold-bechained banker rather than one of the most successful actors of his generation. ‘What does Al do?’ I asked my friend, who was obscurely related to him, later in the taxi. ‘What do you mean, what does A…
Read more

Amantaka

By Mr & Mrs Smith.

Celebrity spotting has never really been my strong suit. Once, at Nell’s in New York, I spent a whole evening sitting next to Al Pacino thinking he was an over-tanned, gold-bechained banker rather than one of the most successful actors of his generation. ‘What does Al do?’ I asked my friend, who was obscurely related to him, later in the taxi. ‘What do you mean, what does Al do?’ he replied.

But in the sharply air-conditioned oasis of the Amantaka library in Luang Prabang, it is Mr Smith who fails to clock the boyish Hollywood megastar being discreetly ushered to his room by the GM. Distinctly un-Dunhillish in dressed-down trackie pants, and with what I can’t help thinking is a rather bogan bottle-blond job, he does look more backpacker than Cool Britannia pin-up. But that’s Jude Law alright. I’d recognise Sienna Miller anywhere.

Our frisson with fame is fleeting. Luang Prabang is too much of a star attraction herself to allow for lengthy distraction. It’s day two of our stay and our retreat back to the hotel – OK, and the scrumptious afternoon tea, complete with pandan leaf–covered delicacies – is short and sweet. It’s time to climb the mountain and see this charming Laotian backwater from above.

Mount Phousi is a modest, fin-like hill at one end of the little isthmus running between the great Mekong River and its tributary, the Nam, that essentially defines the heart of Luang Prabang, and, by default, the spiritual ground zero of Laotian Buddhism. At night, spot-lit in the smoky agricultural haze that pervades the town in spring, its graceful golden stupa seems to float above the town like a benign religious UFO. After a sweaty ascent – we’re too hot to count the steps – we also realise it attracts 99 per cent of the local insect and gecko population; the white walls of the temple look like an Agnès B shop display in the pulsating late afternoon sunlight. Below us, the town stretches out lazily towards the river, and glints of gold cross the hilly countryside. It’s all so transfixing we stay too long and have to take the long way down at dusk, mosquito swarms following us like thought bubbles. The back path releases us at one of the town’s countless temples. The courtyard is deserted save for a mangy dog or two, while the boy monks say their evening prayers inside.

These days, Luang Prabang is (understandably) the hottest destination in Asia. It’s enjoyed a privileged Unesco World Heritage status since 1995, and is now considered to be the best preserved and most authentic small town in the whole of former Indochina. Development in Luang Prabang is small-scale and low-rise and, out of respect for its living Buddhist culture, none of the central hotels have a swimming pool. Traffic is light and slow, and you are as likely to be overtaking one of the rickety local vintage cars, as they are you. This place is a genuine boutique bolthole.

We’re guiltily glad, though, that Amantaka sits just outside the rectangular central grid. Not only does it have a grand swimming pool – we do desultory laps each morning – but our suite also has its own terrace and smaller pool. It’s a perfect example of heritage restoration. Once the Catholic hospital, its clay-tiled and generously veranda’d dormitories stand sentry around an elongated, grassy central compound and it’s hard to spot the one modern addition to the pack. An air of genteel and restorative calm is established within its walls; you can almost sense the wimpled nuns gliding about with tiffins while poor consumptive locals lie wanly on the beds inside.

The suite itself is a model of understated elegance. Mr Smith thinks it verges on the antiseptic, but I love it. High ceilings accommodate the mosquito-netted four-poster bed with ease; pistachio-coloured shutters throw shadows on the white walls; the bathroom sports a jaunty art deco look with its black and white tiles and retro fan. All that’s missing are our linen suits, sun hats and a scratchy gramophone record for sundown. The common areas are very Foreign Correspondents Club too – convivial, ceiling-fanned rooms neither cavernous nor cramped. We take dinner in the dining room on our first night – a fiery four-course Laotian feast complete with the region’s ubiquitous speciality sausage – and think ourselves very The Year of Living Dangerously.

Luang Prabang has that kind of effect. Chronology recedes, timelessness exudes, and the power of place levels locals, monks, travellers and even celebrities. On our last cycle through town – an old-fashioned upright bike with basket is the de rigueur vehicle – we overtake our friends from the library and share a languid hello. Mr Smith recognises them this time, but nobody bats an eyelid all the same.
 

The Guestbook

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