Hotel Majestic

Saigon - District 1, Saigon & South, Vietnam Book from

Reviewed by Tom Bell
Huge views and smart interiors at this temple to French colonialism on the banks of the Saigon River
A grand hotel, built by the French in 1925, the elegant Hotel Majestic has seen le beau monde, war correspondents, visiting dignitaries and regimes come and go. What has survived is this splendid Art Deco fantasy of marble, glass and gold in one of Indochina’s most dynamic cities. Its rooftop bars and Vietnamese restaurants give stupendous views over the Saigon River, with its gaudy floating eateries, driftwood and industrial barges, so summon a lift and fly to the sky for a cocktail or two as the sun sets; you’ll be joined by the great and the good of Saigon.

Down on the ground you step into a smart golden marble hall where vases of erupting white flowers stand on elegant tables and a central stained glass dome shimmers in red, white and blue. You get all the trimmings of a big hotel: a piano lounge for afternoon tea, a gym, a spa, a palm-fringed courtyard with swimming pool and smartly-dressed porters to carry your luggage. Graceful dark wood and marble rooms and suites come in different shapes and sizes, some with city views, others overlooking the river. Saigon - vibrant, pacy, utterly indomitable - waits for your eyes to acknowledge its beauty. The Opera House, Post Office, Government buildings and Cathedral all help you oblige.

Highs

  • The rooftop M-Bar is spectacularly retro, from its mirrored cocktail bar to its spinning disco ball. Views from the terraces take in the river as well as 3 of Saigon’s most important districts
  • Wonderful architecture: ornate arched windows, snaking staircases, the oldest (and smallest) elevator in Vietnam, stained glass domes, and finger-print-free brass
  • Friendly, helpful staff, a business centre and a comprehensive concierge service
  • Throwback bathrooms come in black and gold marble and wood polished to a mirror finish
  • A first-floor courtyard swimming pool offers respite from the city sun

Lows

  • It's much larger than we'd normally choose, but it's hard to find a small standout hotel in Saigon
  • Views from some rooms offer uninspiring cityscapes - opt for the riverside rooms, if you can
  • Buffet breakfasts are only served till 10am and it can be a bit of a bun fight if you get up early
  • The open-air breakfast terrace on the 5th floor is often closed because of high winds (but a good spread is offered indoors when this happens)
  • You can sometimes catch a waft of tobacco in the rooms - request a non-smoking room if this bothers you

Best time to go

This is a 365-day city, busy, busy, busy. The rainy season is May to November (though November is the driest of the wet months). December is the coolest month (you may even need a sweater in the early morning), while April and May tend to be the hottest months.

Our top tips

Have lunch at Quan An Ngon, which translates into ‘delicious place to eat’. You’ll find about 30 different chefs cooking regional Vietnamese food as if on the street.

Great for...

City Style
Foodie
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Luxury Hotel
  • 175
  • Restaurants and bars (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Casino
Room:

Rooms

The Majestic makes the most of its colonial pedigree, so expect lots of dark wood, polished to within an inch of its life, stained glass, curvy mirrors, brass, and trompe l’oeil ceilings. All rooms are individually styled, but suites typically have their own sitting room, a grand bedroom, a dressing area and a bright bathroom with raised-platform baths. If you want a river view (and we’d say it’s a must if you want to see Vietnam unfolding before your very eyes), choose a Majestic Suite (perfect for parents with a small child), or go for a Colonial Saigon River Deluxe, which has a sitting and desk area within a large bedroom, and a lofty, 1930’s style bathroom. All river-view rooms have wrought-iron Juliet balconies from which you can watch scooters riding eleven abreast, buses, and life on the Saigon River.

If a river view doesn’t matter so much, opt for a Colonial City Deluxe, or spread out in a Colonial Suite. (Apart from a rather soulless view of mirrored skyscrapers, we found them rather smart: good lighting, parquet flooring, warm colours and crisp linen. Colonial Deluxe rooms are the cheapest option; they share the dull views and are slightly smaller, but fixtures and fittings remain the same, and if all you need is a base in town you’ll be happy enough.) The final option, the Colonial Pool Deluxe, looks out onto the courtyard swimming pool, but can be a bit echoey during the day. It is worth noting that there is not that much difference in price between a City Deluxe and a Colonial Saigon River Deluxe, and the latter is very popular.

Wherever you choose you’ll find WiFi, pretty armchairs, flatscreen TVs with uniquely Asian-flavoured carved, wooden frames, minibars, coffee machines, fresh flowers, colourful art, air-conditioning, bath robes and slippers. Striking bathrooms come in black and gold marble and add a dollop of glamour. Mineral water and bowls of fruit are replenished daily and there’s an evening turndown service.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

This is not a hotel in which to go hungry. There are cafes, restaurants and bars in the hotel specialising in traditional Vietnamese food, and Asian, Western and International dishes, and you can get snacks at the pool or in the bars. There’s even a sinful patisserie in the lounge so you don’t have to miss out on a violin-serenaded afternoon tea.

A huge buffet breakfast is served on the terrace of the 5th-floor Breeze Sky Bar (unless the weather fails to cooperate, in which case you eat in the ground-floor Cyclo Restaurant). With so many rooms to feed, it can get quite busy up here, especially early on, as people are often racing off to catch morning flights or trips out to the countryside. Despite this, you still manage to get a really good breakfast; you just have to occasionally elbow someone out of the way to get to the croissants. You’ll find endless jugs of freshly-squeezed tropical juices, huge platters of freshly-sliced fruit, yoghurts and cereals, jams and honey, towering cakes stands filled with patisserie, freshly-baked rolls, toasters for the English and a long buffet of cooked delights offering European and Asian dishes.

Authentic Vietnamese food is served for lunch and dinner in the Cyclo Restaurant; views give onto the street, and meals are sometimes accompanied by live Vietnamese music and dance performances. The 7th-floor chintzy Serenade Restaurant is for when you’re craving something more Western. During the day, lighter meals are available at the pool bar, Breeze Sky Bar and M Bar, located on a roof terrace, where - once you’ve recovered from your first sight of the amazing view - you can grab a Croque Monsieur, a Russian salad, a club sandwich, noodle soup, pizza or a plate of French cheeses.

Saigon has a growing number of excellent eateries: Propaganda Café and The Temple Club are firm favourites and offer great Vietnamese, bistro-style food in a cool setting. If you want to eat the best Vietnamese food in town head to the Mandarin; for the best European food try the Park Hyatt. La Camargue serves up really good French dishes in stylish surroundings.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Coffee tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Saigon is a French colonial town; stroll down its central streets to see the architectural legacy. Make sure you go into the Post Office, a grand place to send off your postcards. Bang opposite is Notre Dame Cathedral. Head west and you’ll find Ho Chi Minh Municipal Theatre, better known as the Opera House. City Hall is close, too
  • Fill your suitcases with designer labels from the shopping malls and boutiques (though you will often find parity with western prices), or shop for decent lacquer-ware, bags and presents from the friendly traders at the biggest market in town, Ben Than, a kilometre from the hotel.
  • Visit Reunification Palace, the taking of which by North Vietnamese tanks on 30 April, 1975, marked the fall of Saigon and the end of the war. The park around it is Saigon’s equivalent to Lover’s Lane and is crammed with doting couples at night
  • If you want to know more about the Vietnamese War, go to the War Remnants Museum, once known as the Museum of American War Crimes. Its name changed in 1997, the first condition the American government imposed on the Vietnamese in exchange for granting ‘Most Favoured Nation Trading Status’. Here you'll find shocking memorabilia, pictures and personal accounts of the war
  • If you can squeeze into them, the Cu Chi tunnels are well worth a visit and one of the highlights of a trip to Vietnam. Ask reception to help you organise a day trip
  • Head south and discover the Mekong Delta as it prepares to pour into the South China Sea. Find friendly locals working their paddy fields and a seemingly infinite web of tiny canals that brings water from river to field. Day trips can be arranged
  • Chill out in the hotel: have a cooking lesson, sit by the pool or treat yourself at the spa

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being

Kids

The hotel is child-friendly, but the pool is not supervised. Under 6 year olds stay for free in parents' room; 6 and over in extra bed in parents' room at an extra cost.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Babysitting:

Babysitting available by arrangement.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request - though they’re supposed to be suitable for under 2s, we’d recommend taking your own travel cot for active babies of 18 months or more. High chairs are also available in the restaurants.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
7/
Food
8/
Service
9/
Value
8/
Overall

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