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“Crank Down Your Expectations to -11 Before Staying Here”

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The Grand Luang Prabang Hotel & Resort
Ranked #26 of 68 Hotels in Luang Prabang
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 22 March 2014

Executive Summary: Even in Luang Prabang, you can do better than this place. The beauty of the gardens and the Mekong river are quickly negated by the isolation and lack of basic amenities.


First, some context: Laos in general and Luang Prabang in particular, are very poor and barely developed places and are trying very hard to get themselves up to something in the general vicinity of international hospitality standards. They are in that awkward stage of becoming very popular with tourists for their various historical attractions, without having developed sufficiently to actually provide good service to the throngs that are coming to see the place. We had heard a lot about how serene and picturesque this hotel was, how the simple dignity of the local life and customs would inspire us, how the local French-inspired cuisine was going to blow us away and how we would emerge from the experience refreshed and inspired. Fortunately, we have travelled enough to be very skeptical of these types of claims and were only mildly disappointed. If you actually believe the brochure, you will be in for a bad time.

Now to the hotel itself. It is true that the hotel's gardens and its view of the Mekong are impressive. Unfortunately, these views come with a price, most immediately the 15-minutes bone-jarring journey to and from the center of town each time you want to get an ice cream cone or a cup of coffee.

The rooms are small and unremarkable and are all the same size, so there is no opportunity to pay a bit more for a better room. The hotel does not have an elevator and if you have a mobility issue (which we thankfully did not) you need to get a ground floor room. There is also no AC, so your only cooling option is to leave the balcony door open. This was not an issue during our stay in February, but I can imagine that a summertime stay would be less than comfortable. The trickle of hot water you get in the shower comes from an individual on-demand heater installed in your bathroom and it does not always work as advertised, so you need to run the hot water to make sure everything is working before taking your clothes off to take a shower, in case you need to call the front desk for a repairman to come to your room.

As others have mentioned, the rooms are not sound insulated and since there is not much else do here at night, guests tend to get drunk and loud into the late hours. We were travelling during the Lunar New Year holiday and there was not much serenity at night with the Chinese guests enjoying the cheap booze available at the local stores.

because of its distance from town, the hotel operates a shuttle service into and out of town, but there are pretty strict requirements for reserving a seat on it, and ultimately it's easier to spend the 4 Dollars to take a Tuk-Tuk into, and back from, town than to jump through all the hoops the hotel requires for a ride on the hotel shuttle.

The breakfast buffet was pretty minimal, but the food was OK, especially the cooked-to-order noodles. The coffee service was not exactly snappy, and when we got our own coffee from the waiter stations, some of them got annoyed with us. We had dinner at the hotel the first night we got there, and the food was OK and nothing to write about.

The staff were friendly enough and tried to be helpful but the communication was far from perfect and there was not a whole lot they could do anyway. They were also very easily overwhelmed when even a small group was checking in or out. Our guide had to get pretty assertive with them to get them to focus on dealing with one task at a time rather than stopping work on whatever they were doing to respond to every new query or request.

From our exploration of the town, we found a number of small inns in town that would not have been as secluded, but much better places to stay and a lot closer to the restaurants, the tourist attractions, and shops in town.

  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank LexFugit
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Guillermo_GM, General Manager at The Grand Luang Prabang Hotel & Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 28 July 2014

Dear LexFugit,

Sabaidee! Greetings from The Grand Luang Prabang!

I have recently been appointed General Manager of this hotel and I would like to thank you for your extensive review, which for sure is helping me and my team get a better understanding of the property and guests' expectations.

While we obviously cannot correct the location of the hotel, which I also consider as an advantage thanks to the peacefulness of the area and the magnificent views, a complete refurbishment is already planned and some of the corrective works have already started. From the lack of services such as the bar as you mention, to the repair of all air conditioning and heating units, passing through a redesign of rooms and public areas, we hope to be able to fulfill everybody's expectations when staying at The Grand Luang Prabang.

We will add more activities and work on training for our team members, as we definitely aim to create a great and joyful experience.

It will be a pleasure to get the chance of welcoming you back in the future at The Grand Luang Prabang.

With warm regards,

Guillermo
General Manager

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84 - 90 of 335 reviews

Reviewed 4 March 2014

I frequently stay at this hotel when on business trips to Luang Prabang. Thus, I have seen it progress over the past few years. The young and committed staff are eager to please. Their English may not be perfect, but they try. The hotel is clean and its location on the Mekong cannot be beat anywhere in Luang Prabang.

All other hotels in town cram you into a small air conditioned room with no view of the mighty Mekong River. The Grand places you in a spacious room with screen doors that lead to a veranda so that you can turn off the air con.

Westerners who come to Laos for a five-star experience will be disappointed. Such an experience does not exist anywhere in the country.

The location of the Grand Luang Prabang is five star. The Lao food at the riverside restaurant is also very good when compared to other Lao food being served in the city of Luang Prabang.

Yes, the hotel's furnishings are not new. But that is changing. The investor has plans to refurbish the entire property and bring it back to its original glory. The plan will be implemented beginning in April 2014.

Thus, for those Westerners looking for a Western hotel experience in Luang Prabang: go somewhere else.

The recent criticisms have been dramatized and are only partially true; they fail to take into consideration the 3rd world --- least developed country --- situation in which the Grand is situated.

Bear with the small inconveniences for a true Mekong River experience.

Room Tip: All rooms have a veranda that overlook the Mekong River. Enjoy.
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  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled on business
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1  Thank zolaamt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 February 2014

I have given this hotel a star for the location and gardens. After that there is absolutely nothing to recommend it for. On arrival after a long day's travelling there was nowhere for us to have a meal inside as both facilities were closed for private functions - we complained but were met with a grin from the receptionist. This set the tenor of the whole stay - the cafe bar was always closed to guests. The reception area also set the tone of all the bedrooms - shabby and uncomfortable. The cheaply made beds creaked terribly - as did rest of the cheap furniture. The bathroom was very shabby with grubby paintwork and pealing paint. There are no safes in the rooms which is unacceptable and the safety deposit arrangements are very cumbersome.
This hotel is aimed at the package tours group who may be impressed by the lovely photo promotions but then become trapped in an arrangement that basically treats its guests as suckers to be exploited at every opportunity with poor quality service and facilities. This hotel is rapidly falling behind the quality of the other hotels in the town and will soon lose the custom of the tour companies who will soon learn how dissatisfied its clients are with the facilities and service at this hotel which will reflect badly on their own reputation. This was my first tour with Jules Verne and this experience alone will make it my last.

  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank wal4d
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Guillermo_GM, General Manager at The Grand Luang Prabang Hotel & Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 28 July 2014

Dear Wal4d,

Sabaidee! Warm greetings from The Grand Luang Prabang!

My name is Guillermo, I have recently been appointed as General Manager of this property, and I would like to thank you for your feedback, at the same time as to apologise for what obviously was not a joyful stay with us.

Your comments are of great value in helping me understand the hotel and our guests' expectations. I am terribly sorry you felt trapped in a place "as a sucker to be exploited with poor quality services". While the correction of the rooms, facilities and other "hardware" is already on the way, it will also be my part to ensure this feeling you refer to is not repeated with other guests.

I hope this experience did not affect the general vision of Laos and Luang Prabang, and although I understand it may be difficult, I would really love to welcome you back in the future with a renovated product as we are planning to have soon.

Best regards from Luangprabang,

Guillermo
General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 February 2014

Much of what I am going to write has been said before, but it needs underlining...it's 5.30am as I type and we have been awake since 05.00 due to the paper thin walls and appalling insulation meaning that our early rising and ignorantly noisy fellow guests have broken our sleep. The beds are what you might expect from an English boarding school, hard and creaky, the linens are shabby, the hot water non existent, a fridge that is so old it hums constantly, ditto the ancient television, the lack of safe in the room, coupled with the shout-y printed message about how the 'management do NOT accept responsibility for valuables...' leaves one wondering what kind of institution this is, as it doesn't resemble anything I recognise as a 'hotel'.
Our dinner last night was a joke...the waiter spoke not a word of English and we had to repeat our order four times...despite three of us ordering the same dish. When the food arrived it came for two at a time, with such a vast delay that when the second batch arrived, the first two had as good as finished eating, otherwise their food, already served on very cold plates, would have been freezing. It's worth noting, for the avoidance of doubt, we were the only four people in the restaurant which has absolutely no charm or atmosphere, so the kitchen was not under pressure. A further request for some chilli sauce was pointless as this also took so long to arrived, all plates were consumed.

The location might be pretty but it's not convenient for the town which has numerous other smaller but charming hotels. This may perhaps have had a hey day but currently it's an utter shambles and frankly I can't wait to leave and having just come from the utterly divine Heritage Suites in Siem Reap, I'm trying not to let this experience ruin my holiday, so don't make the mistake of booking here and risk yours.

Belying its name, this hotel certainly isn't Grand.

  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled with family
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3  Thank Sidcot73
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Guillermo_GM, General Manager at The Grand Luang Prabang Hotel & Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 28 July 2014

Dear Debogross,

Sabaidee! Greetings from The Granf Luang Prabang!

My name is Guillermo and I have been recently appointed as General Manager at The Grand Luang Prabang. It is with a sad feeling that I read your review and I am really sorry to learn about your dissatisfaction with your stay.

Since a few weeks now, we have started a program of full renovation of the property, which will go for sure over all the issues you and fellow travellers have mentioned. It will take time, but it is thanks to reviews like yours that we can get a better insight on guests' expectations and correct the "hardware" and service defaults. As we speak, several processes are in place to ensure a better service and while awaiting the full refurbishment, we are already working in needed touch up of our rooms and public areas.

I hope this sad experience did not ruin your holidays and that at least you enjoyed your visit to Luang Prabang as a city. It would be a pleasure to have the chance of welcoming you back in the future with a new product worth of our name, The Grand Luang Prabang.

Best regards,

Guillermo
General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 February 2014

The grounds are beautiful - however the accommodations do not meet standards or expectations (american perspective).

Horrible bed, linens, and pillows. TV is older than my adult kids. Bathroom is horrendous and water pressure dismal.

The food is mediocre (generous evaluation).

Room Tip: there is no good room - all different levels of bad though
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  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank venusbirth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 February 2014 via mobile

Here's the deal with The Grand: it's a 5-star location and garden with 4-star room and 3-star toilet. Beautiful lush gardens overlooking the Mekong. Make sure u ask for a Mekong view room.

The place looks like it was given a quick makeover but they didn't bother to change the bathrooms or the squeaky beds. Also, they have a warning against leaving valuables in the room but there are no safes.

It's a comfy little place and the price is very good. They have a free shuttle to town on specific times and outside the schedule u can take the shuttle and pay for it (very cheap, cheaper than a tuk tuk). They have good staff and good service, no English though.

I recommend it for its location and price and for the friendly staff. The Mekong rooms are gorgeous. I hope they will fix up the bathrooms and the rooms and put safes in them.

  • Stayed: January 2014
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1  Thank MazenKh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 January 2014

Luang Prabang is a small town with a great atmosphere and a fantastic position on a confluence of two rivers. To sample that for the best you need one of the many small hotels overlooking the riverbank. The Grand Hotel is large and not in town but it was obviously built where it was for the super location on the bank of the Mekong. It doesn't have atmosphere, the bar is a case in point, and the food isn't anything like as good as you can get in town. It does have a nice pool area but no changing rooms. The staff are ever so helpful but stuck in old-style hotel service delivery. Thinking through the needs of their customers and delivering hasn't caught up with the competition. For example extracting useful dollars from the front desk is a battle often lost. No safes in rooms - antiquated double lock system behind the front desk involving resealing with staples and sellotape at every access. The shuttle to town is not user-friendly but a tuk-tuk is a more enjoyable option anyway. Traffic is nothing like other cities in Indochina as regards volume of motorbikes. Plenty of tourists cycling round town - a suicide risk in Hanoi or MCMC.

Room Tip: All rooms face the Mekong. The trouble is a lot don't get the sun at the end of the afternoon an...
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  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled with friends
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1  Thank Dixiegrand
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about The Grand Luang Prabang Hotel & Resort

Address: Ban Xiengkeo, Khet Sangkalok P.O. Box 1191, Luang Prabang, Laos
Region: Laos > Luang Prabang Province > Luang Prabang
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#4 Top resorts Hotel in Luang Prabang
#14 Luxury Hotel in Luang Prabang
#23 Romantic Hotel in Luang Prabang
Price Range: £73 - £143 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — The Grand Luang Prabang Hotel & Resort 5*
Number of rooms: 78
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Miracle of Luangprabang city, the Grand luangprabang hotel is where the music offered by the river. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Grand Luang Prabang Hotel Luang Prabang
The Grand Luang Prabang Hotel And Resort
Grand Hotel Luang Prabang
Grand Luang Prabang

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