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“Finding "Serenity"”

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Zen Namkhan Boutique Resort
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Ban Xieng Lom
Certificate of Excellence
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Finding "Serenity"”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 March 2013

We arrived at the Zen at the midpoint of our 32 day tour of Vietnam/Laos, 7 of which were in Luang Prabang. Take advantage of the pricing and stay for at least 4 nights as we did. Once you find great serenity and relaxation in such a beautiful place why would you want to leave? Luc kindly recommended “Serenity” (name of villa we stayed in) overlooking the river. We had booked the villa over the suspension bridge, but we determined “Serenity” was what we were looking for. IT WAS AMAZING! Sitting out at night listening to locals singing as they navigated the river below, or just listening to the sounds of the jungle at night. Enjoy a coffee on the balcony in the morning while hearing the trumpet sounds of the elephants down river while watching the most amazing sunrise. Very nice open air shower in the room.

I found all the staff to be excellent, friendly and accommodating. Luc and Moon have built a very special place that must be experienced to be believed. In the fast paced world that we live in it was 4 days of absolute relaxation and retreat. Enjoy the Japanese bath followed by a massage. It was wonderful.

Then get Khamsaen to make you the “best Pina Colada in Laos”. Khamsaen acts as concierge, tour guide, bartender among other duties. He is an exceptional young man with a good heart. He gave us a tour of the local elephant compound and the local village.

After reading some of the Zen’s critics I find some comments extremely harsh. If paradise is a red carpeted 5 star hotel with a pool/bar on the roof of a 30 floor hotel perhaps Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh or Singapore is as remote as you should get. As some have said the Zen is not for everyone. But if you are looking for "Serenity"......

The pool is amazing with a spectacular view of the mountains. We loved the food, pina coladas and a great wine selection. I must apologize to Luc, Moon and Khamsaen for such a delay with posting my review. We stayed there in March 2012 but not a month goes by that I don’t remember that very special time. The Zen was not just a highlight of our 2012 trip, but stands out as one of the best experiences among 3 trips to VN, Laos and Cambodia. We hope to return one day, although it won’t be as quickly as I would like.

Room Tip: Choose the one of the villas overlooking the river.
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  • Stayed April 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank CDN_in_SE_Asia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
indianajone27, Owner at Zen Namkhan Boutique Resort, responded to this review, 13 March 2013
From our staff and myself thank you very much for your encouragement. It's give us the motivation to continue to do our best.
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226 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (43)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Copenhagen
Level Contributor
16 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 March 2013

The setting is really beautiful. Gorgeous views over the pool to the mountains. We had a villa that was quite big and interesting..with an outdoor shower - remember to shower before dark :), and again amazing view. The terrace was nice, with wooden chairs that were not too comfy. Wish they invested in some pillows so you could actually sit there and enjoy.
There were a lot of small lizards waiting for us when we checked in the room.

It looks like an interesting place to spend around three days.
Food was too spicy for our taste, the spiciest we had in Laos. Food and massage were quite expensive.
I got sick while the next morning after we came - I do not believe it was from anything we had there, but can't be sure.
We booked only one night with booking.com and we received some uncomfortable comments from the staff. We asked for a double room with the booking, but got twin - with a comment that we only booked for one night...They did not provide much info on the possibilities of trekking around, as we are staying only for one night so we do not have enough time anyway etc. If it is a problem that people would like to stay just for one night - they should not make it possible to book for one night. I also sent them an inquiry with the booking if they can arrange us a transportation to the resort, and never got an answer for it.

  • Stayed February 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Ana C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
indianajone27, Owner at Zen Namkhan Boutique Resort, responded to this review, 11 March 2013
Dear guest,

Sorry for the inconvenient about the double room versus twin but at that time we was full and we had only this room left. Normally with agencies and our booking reservation system we mention 2 nights minimum. We offer free transport when the guest book direct with us with a minimum of 2 nights. We make this 2 nights minimum because we feel to really enjoy the nature of Laos (and because we are at 20 minutes from town) you need to stay 2 nights. My Best regards
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San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
38 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 7 March 2013

Our part had a great time in this beautiful place. A real Shangra La jungle setting. A highlight of a four week trip through Vietnam, laos,and Cambodia. The food was delicious ( but a limited menu, which did not bother us a bit.) Great curries, very nice wine selection. We enjoyed the staff, and the owners. The owner has good taste in music too! The yoga class by moon was challenging. The massages by the local village women were much better than we expected,Ina lovely setting. We walked down to the river at 7:30 am to see the elephants bathing, another high point of our travels. There are few caveats: 1) this area is very steep and the villas are spread across the mountain. If you have trouble walking or use a cane/ wheel chair, this would be challenging. 2) you must ask for an air conditioned room! If not, you will get a room that has no screens and you will need a mosquito net... One guest told me that he changed rooms three times before getting one that was reasonably safe from Mosquitos. 4) the pool was too cold to swim in, and it's too green with algae for most people to swim in. Despite those minor points, this is well two nights and days to enjoy the jungle. Go soon before the new roads and railroads are completed, 2014' which will bring huge numbers of people to Laos.

Room Tip: Insist on an air conditioned room! Otherwise you will have mosquitoes!
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  • Stayed March 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank VendolaSanRafael
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
indianajone27, Owner at Zen Namkhan Boutique Resort, responded to this review, 11 March 2013
Dear guest,

Thank you for your comments. I just want to clarify some point: regarding the green algae it's part of the ecosystem of a natural pond there no way we can avoid them. What you have to control it's the excess of green algae. A expert told me if you don't see your feet you are in big problem if you can see it clearly your water it's perfect. (I go to swim almost everyday and I see clearly my feet!) The green algae you see on the stone it's normal. We clean and brush the section where our guest swim almost everyday. For the cold water that you found sorry but there nothing I can do!

Regarding the mosquitos it's a matter of tolerance. You can get mosquitos between 4 to 6 o'clock. In my point of view there very few specially in this period of the year and there no necessity to have A/C to be protect of the mosquitos but A/C can good on hot season for your comfort but again this is personal. The guest you mention they change the room because they want a up-grade and they was looking for a quiet place with A/C.
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Munich, Germany
Level Contributor
31 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 March 2013

I am a bit torn as to what rating to give here, because
a) i recommend everybody to go there and stay a night or two
b) the service and especially the hospitality is soso for the price, for which I have to reduce the rating

a)
The location is absolutely top, we had one of the stunning villas that overlook the river. You feel 100% inside nature from a luxiourious setting. We absolutely loved the big wooden balconies, the furniture as well as the outside shower. Everything well thought out with lots of style.
The nature pool is absolutely stunning as well, inside a very nice pond layout with a stunning view.
The lao food is really well-cooked, but the variety is a bit lacking, if you would stay there longer than two nights.
which brings me to the downside
b) the hospitality and attitude of the owner and his lao reception guy is really lacking. A lot of time we had the feeling that the place is there for the owner and not for his guests.

Example 1: making his boss a cocktail would take precedence and they would have fun together at the bar totally ignoring our wish to order for 30 min after bringing us the menu

Example 2: on their website they promise free transfer from and to Luang Prabang, if you stay 2 nights. Unbelievably, it means transfer when they feel like it, not when you feel like it.
We wanted to stay till midday and enjoy the sun and the view a bit more before going, and he wanted us to leave around 10 since he had other guests going to the airport. For me thats not really free transfer. Unbelievably he started arguing with me about wether we should go at 10 or not. If you are paying 290U$ for 2 nights in Laos it feels really cheap, if the owner haggles with you over the price of the cab to town.
A shame for the great resort!

Room Tip: Take one of the 4 villas: Serenity, Courage, Force
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  • Stayed February 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank QuietTripping
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
indianajone27, Owner at Zen Namkhan Boutique Resort, responded to this review, 11 March 2013
Dear guest,
>
> Thank you for comment on our resort. I am happy that you appreciate and share with us the beauty and the nature of Laos. Regarding the menu we will offer not time to time but on a regular basis a special of the day (3 sets + coffee or tea) and the price will vary from $12 to $18. But guest must understand that we are not in town and it's not a restaurant who serve 25 or 50 meals a day. We have to go almost everyday to get fresh vegetable or meat and it's impossible to offer a wide varieties of meal. Example to offer the best sometime we have to wait a week before to get a good piece of meat.
>
> My wife or ex-wife, staff or friends said I can be selfish but none of them never told me that I was stingy! (I will said you cannot do this kind of business specially in Laos if you are stingy) I had to go to the airport because some of our guest had a fly at 12:30, they was ready to go at 11:00 instead at 10:00. I explain to you the situation and I asking you to make a compromise, to go at 11:00 instead of 12:00. Your answer was: I will ask you to make a compromise we share the cost of the taxi! I said yes... Time of the conversation: 1 minute. It's was business talk...like anyone who run a business I try to control my cost.

Finally I can assure you Client Come First (By experience I can assure you I am the last one to be serve!) I am sorry that you had to wait to be serve but you seem in deep conversation at that time and a small sign from your part I am sure my staff will serve you promptly. Please receive my Best Regards
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Sliema, Malta
Level Contributor
89 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 February 2013

The place is great but it relies too much on the natural beauty....considering its in the middle of nowhere, the restaurant should offer much more and what he actually does offer is over priced for what it is...when we were there they also needed some kind of restaurant manager as the Laotian staff hardly spoke English...even though they tried their best...the feeling we had was that the staff were abandoned to take care of everyone...

Room Tip: We had a special bungalow that was secluded....probably good if you re on your honeymoon...
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  • Stayed January 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank shiva1961
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
indianajone27, Owner at Zen Namkhan Boutique Resort, responded to this review, 22 February 2013
Thank you to give us your feed back about our Resort we appreciate it. But you have to explain to me: The place is great but it relies too much on the natural beauty....considering its in the middle of nowhere!!! This one I don't understand...Natural Beauty should be where! And considering its in the Middle of nowhere..I hope you understand what it's mean by we are in the middle of jungle in Laos... I really hope people feel they are in the middle of nowhere... but at 13 km from Luang Prabang.

For the restaurant we try to limit the number of choice in the menu...(I really don't want to offer 50 choices) but we want to excel in what we serve... We offer time to time Special Set Menu...Depend of the fresh meat or fish we have from the market (3 sevices between $12 to $16... (fair price)...

When you said: Laotian staff hardly spoke English, I will let other guest respond to that. But you have to understand in general Lao People's they want to speak English but in Lao English Teacher in Primary & Secondary School are extremely rare... And I believe the Traveler should do the effort to be understand...(you have to go to China!) I think the traveler must adapt to the country he is visiting and I do not understand people that complaint the local people .... in this case the English ...are not speaking by everyone!

And when you said: staff were abandoned to take care of everyone... I give you the answer of my cook; ( we are old enough to take care of our self that why we ask our boss to get out of the kitchen! (My job as owner is to give guideline to my staff). Regards
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brighton uk
Level Contributor
23 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 February 2013

staying at the Zen Namkhan was simply the highlight of our month long travels of Thailand and Laos and we only ended up there by accident. Having had our previous reservations at a hotel in town completely screwed up we decided to look else where and found this paradise. i agree the journey to it was an adventure in it's self as the loop road is under construction. we had our own motorbike so the journey into Luang Prabang could be a challenge or hilarious depending on your sensibilities!! i can understand that maybe the resort's location may put people off but don't be, once you have arrived all time stands still and the views/gardens and staff are incredible.
we had one of the Bungalows overlooking the river, hours if not days disappeared just sitting on the large cool verrandah watching river life go on beneath us. the views across the forested mountains are breathtaking. the bungalow was 'rustic luxury'-spacious, stylish, one of the comfiest beds we had had on our travels and loads of comfy chairs, floor cushions and a day bed. the whole length of the room opened out onto the balcony so we always slept with all the doors open to really feel and hear the jungle outside!! now i appreciate that this may not suit everyone but to be immersed in nature but still have the comforts of a resort is simply the best.The hotel provided bottled water everyday but they would simply refill them from their purified water cooler if you prefered which is a brilliant touch- saves on the waste of plastic bottles.
the pool area was sublime, i'm not entirely sure everyone on tripadvisor appreciates the point of a natural swimming pool but to us Luc had designed the perfect oasis. personally i hate bright blue, clhorinated, square soulless pools. here you have the chance to swim in an infinity pool amongst plants and teeny little fish whilst looking out over mountains. sublime!
the restaurant area was the heart of the resort and there was always someone to get you a drink or something to eat. in the evening the tables were set beautifully, linen napkins and proper wine glasses!! the food was delicious and the service very attentive.
finally what makes this place such a delight were the staff- they work hard but are always cheery, friendly, entertaining and became like friends. special mention to our new friend Unn- good luck with Luc's organic garden project, Copan the crazy golden lab dog and finally Chansane the conciege/manager, good luck with your wedding.
we loved this place so much we stayed an extra night and even when we came to check out we seemed not to leave til about 4pm, we just sat chatting to Chansane having a couple of BeerLao and stared at the mountains, we could not drag ourselves away.....
if you need a break from the hassle, noise, tour touts, tourist tat, and leary backpackers come here for some pure fresh air!!

Room Tip: get a bungalow we had 'force' or if you are more adventurous the 'plenitude' bungalo...
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  • Stayed February 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank embub
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Montreal Quebec
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 January 2013

We have travelled a lot over the last decade and I have seen many beautiful places, but this is the first time I have ever truly wanted to write a review of where I have just been.
My husband planned quite a trip this late fall with the help of our very dear friends. The first leg of the trip was to Bangkok Thailand.
From there we flew to Laos to the City of Luang Prabang and it is here that I want to share a very special review.
We stayed at The 'Unique and Beautiful Zen NamKhan Boutique Resort' for one glorious week! This resort is nestled right in the heart of the most lush, tropical, and tranquil setting ever! It boast's spectacular mountain views while dining or bathing! And villas that are situated right on the banks of the NamKhan river! Plus it’s only a short drive from the city of Luang Prabang!
Each day was a new adventure. Whether it was a trip on the river in a long boat, riding the elephants at The Elephant Village or taking in the night market in the city, there was always something to do. One of the most treasured highlights was to dine back at the resort and enjoy one of the many delicious dishes that were prepared by Moon our host! Or her incredible staff!
There we would come back watch as the gorgeous sun would set! Relax have a cocktail and truly be completely consumed with the artistry and presentation of the food prepared for us that evening. We are foodies and I cannot say enough when it comes to this. In the morning you were greeted by the freshest of fruits the smell of freshly roasted coffee and if it was your preference you could easily order a western breakfast. For me I loved Moon's wonderful Home- made Thai soup!
At any time of the day the employee's of the NamKhan resort were always cheerful and willing to help you with whatever you needed! A special mention to Nam your enthusiasm and attention to detail will forever be appreciated!
In closing: Our stay was made so complete with all the wonderful staff who were always smiling, and ready to please! .To the owner Luc with his dashing smile! And wonderful sense of humor! And to Moon who without a doubt is a wonderful manager! And host! Who made our trip one in which we will always treasure!

Room Tip: We had a wonderful villa right on the river, if perhaps your more adventurous you could go across th...
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  • Stayed November 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank TheBirdsNest1983
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
indianajone27, Owner at Zen Namkhan Boutique Resort, responded to this review, 22 February 2013
Thank you so much for you encouragement... I am happy that you see the meaning to be Zen & Epicurian at Zen Namkhan Resort.
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Additional Information about Zen Namkhan Boutique Resort

Property: Zen Namkhan Boutique Resort
Address: 082, Ban Xieng Lom, Luang Prabang 06000, Laos
Region: Laos > Luang Prabang Province > Luang Prabang > Ban Xieng Lom
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Ban Xieng Lom
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Zen Namkhan Boutique Resort 3.5*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located in Luang Prabang at 12 km form the center, it's the perfect place to enjoy the breathtaking on the Namkhan River and mountains. You will be able to enjoy the NamKhan River with a serene boat ride, kayak or Trek around the Resort and Tad Sae Waterfall or doing yoga and meditation. We just finish to built a new steam room next to our swimming pool. The beautiful onsite restaurant offer excellent choice of menus, using ingredients from organic produces like herbs and vegetables. Unwind at the Ecological chlorine-free pool after a tiring day. Zen Namkhan Boutique Resort is a perfect sanctuary for leisure travelers who seek for sophistication within a serene environment. Please note the new road to Luang Prabang it's almost completed. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Zen Namkhan Boutique Hotel Ban Xieng Lom

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