We stayed 3 nights in late November.
If I am fair the staff do try to please but at lot of small things do not live up to the expectations of 'westerners'. At this point remember you are in Laos and a lot development has to take place before this country can compete with the hotel business in first and second world economies. The Vietnamese who run this place speak reasonable English but little Laotian so if you need help with interpreters trying to get a tuk tuk you have to do this in the morning or day time whilst the Laotian staff are still around.
Here is the secret to having a good time at the hotel. The staff want to serve so go to reception and ask nicely. We found that most of the time this worked well and that overall, we had a good time at this hotel. It is good value for money.
We had been in touch before by email and had agreed by email that the hotel would pick us up from the airport in their own aircon'ed people carrier. We read over 20 trip advisors reviews for this hotel beforehand and knew this service was provided free of charge.
You can imagine our displeasure at waiting at the airport and eventually having to give up and pay for our own taxi.
The hotel manager was apologetic and made some excuse but if you make an agreement with the customer you should honour the promise.
The manager (a Vietnamese man called Tommy) explained that the hotel offers a one way transport to/from the international airport (Wattay) free of charge in the Hotel price. I know at lease one other hotel in Vientiane that offers a free delivery to the airport so expect to take your own taxi to the hotel (57,000 Kip). You can imagine the mood we were in when we arrived at the Hotel reception.
However to offset this the return shuttle free of charge to the Airport worked well. This is a significant saving on your costs in Vientiane.Remember to check to see if other Hotel do the same. Whilst we are on the subject. Exchange rate was 7,946 kip= 1 $ US. There were 3 exchange bureaus open at the airport but beware if you are arriving 'after hours' as this is a third world country. No offense to Laos. It is charming and that is what we expected.
Our Room was one of the more expensive ones at 50 $Us a night but it was spacious and the aircon worked well. We particularly liked the feature that we could leave the aircon live and come back to a room that was refreshingly cool. The bathroom was spacious but the shower drains around the toilet pan so use the toilet before you use the shower. The staff showed us that as we were at the end of of one of the hotel plumbing runs, we had to switch on the water, turn the handle to the left and WAIT about a minute before the hot water arrived. Hot water worked well, which is important for cleaning up after a day of sightseeing.
Room 604 has drawn other adverse comments in the past on trip advisor. Whilst the room was generally up to standard, the door to the passageway did not fit. It had a wide gap at the botton which could have allowed insects inside...we left the aircon on ALL the time to combat this. The door did not fit at the side nor top either. Daylight could be seen around the door! Hotel owners you need to spend a little more money on the bedroom doors. Go round and inspect them all and REPLACE the poor condition ones. It leaves a poor impression of the room which is not justified. Now women particularly will feel they are are not secure!
Adequate hanging space in the cupboard but no drawer space whatsoever but then if you are 'passing through' you will leave somethings in your luggage anyway.
Now our room on the first floor of the DE LUXE block was numbered 604. We saw the sunrise, beautiful as that hour in the day everything is cool outside. Our room was at the end of the external passage the staff call the balcony but there were chairs outside (you could bring them into the room!
People were arriving at all hours but I think you should get here as early as possible as I have read here on trip advisor of people who reserved finding their reservation had been given away. It is strange that upon our arrival at 13.15 hours we were told that we would have to wait until 2pm before we could have our room. This is not a good policy for any traveller to experience. We insisted nicely that we wanted our room NOW.... you will remember the Hotel had failed to collect us as agreed by email. Anyway after a short exchange of words we were shown immediately to a room. Why did not the Hotel manager just offer us the room in the first place?
In the room the safe was not working but the staff changed the batteries and demonstrated how the safe worked and it did after that point in time.
By now we had realised that we the customers are the ones that keep standards up but to the Hotel's credit they realised they had to meet the customers satisfaction and they always tried.
Back to the bedrooms. Blocks with numbered rooms in the 600's and 500's are best and the view is better from the 1st floor than the ground floor. Bedrooms numbered in the 400's have a 'dark' outlook with no direct sunlight. The 3 storey block 100's to 300's have the very best views on the upper floors....200's and 300's but only up by the dip pool.
There are no lifts and so the staff help the elderly and disabled get heavy luggage up the external wooden stairways.
We saw people smoking on the balconies and we had specifically ordered and got a NO SMOKING room. Good. There was no phone in the room so do not have an accident here! There was a DVD player attached to the TV but as we did not use it cannot comment. The bath towels were small but adequate and we noticed sunbathers taking them to the dip pool. There were a FEW sunloungers at the pool.
Breakfast is better than it appears in the hotel photographs. You can order a variety of modestly sized hot dishes cooked to order and they mostly revolve around different styles of cooked eggs. However the banana and honey crepe is good! As much simple tea (no varieties) just liptons tea and nescafe instant coffee which you make yourself. Cornflakes are plentiful and there are some simple fruits prepared. Watermelon, strips of sweet melon amongst others. The milk though is slightly sweet to a western palate and seems to go better with nescafe rather than tea.White bread and a toaster enable you to create toast.
The bedroom TV picture was average...nothing special and definition not good. We found it best to ASK for you room to be cleaned and then it was.
We slept well at night and the locations seems to be quiet but then it is located behind a back packers hotel on the road and approached through an alley.
Now we got the impression that if you approach the hotel direct you can make savings of upto 15% on the room rate. We have not tested this and cannot comment further.
The hotel has one last good plus which will assist your stay in central Vientiane. Tuk tuks (particularly the one across the road from the hotel entrance) will soak up your precious cash with we think extortionate rates but the hotel (and so we were told) the adjoining back packers establishment will hire you a pedal bicycle for between 10,000 -15, 000 kip a day. Most of the sights are within cycling distance and I mean close by so take your time and enjoy the pace of life in Vientiane. The traffic is calm in this gentle sleepy town. Remember get a map BEFORE you travel and know the layout to the sights which you can find out on Trip ~Advisor. You time is precious so get the maximum out of your stay.
Weather was sometimes cloudy and sometimes brilliant sunshine and the temperature r 22 - 30 Celsius. A pleasant change from Bangkok.
Well done Tommy (and staff) but note the small but important improvements we suggest.
We have listed the upto date and accurate contact details below as they have changed.
Fax: (+856-21) 241974
Tel: (+856-21) 241963
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Probably the most centrally located hotel in Vientiane, the Vientiane Garden Hotel is a wonderful authentic hotel inspired by leading boutique hotels around the world. The hotel offers world class accommodation in the heart of the city, sure to impress even the most discerning traveler with its 12 superior Garden View, 24 deluxe Garden View, 4 suites Garden View. Our central location together with various facilities will ensure that you have the perfect base to explore this city. ... more less
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