Satri House

Ban That Luang Village, Luang Prabang & North, Laos Book from

Reviewed by Kate Hall
An elegant and romantic haven, set in fragrant gardens just a 10-minute walk from central Luang Prabang
Satri House sits gracefully amongst lush gardens, out of the centre but in easy walking distance of the famous night market and the town's intricate Buddhist wats. Its understated splendor is reminiscent of its royal past; in the early 1900s it was the residence of Prince Souphanavong, and its main building is a Unesco-listed Heritage House. Today it is one of Laos' most enticing small hotels. The gentle blend of colonial architecture, graceful décor and eccentricity is down to owner Mrs Lamphoune's exquisite taste - her treasure trove of antique rugs, art and ceramics decorates the hotel.

The fragrant gardens, secret sofa-d terraces and pretty lily pond enchant guests as they arrive, but the quirks and hidden spaces are not just for show; they instill a sense of peace. Satri House never feels full, even when it is. The 31 rooms and suites are spacious and luxurious, with four-poster beds, billowing white curtains and polished wood floors. At night, thick wooden shutters ensure a blissful sleep, essential if you want to rise at dawn to see the famous alms-giving ceremony. Later, the hotel's crisp pools invite you to cool off before snoozing under fanciful white parasols in the garden.

Highs

  • The décor is remarkably beautiful and authentic
  • You're away from the tourists but you can easily walk into town, which is a pleasure in itself, or there are bicycles to borrow
  • The bedrooms are spacious; the beds superbly comfortable
  • An airy spa with high-ceilinged treatment rooms, traditional massages and a herbal steam room
  • The hotel sits just outside the protected zone, so is allowed 2 swimming pools - a rarity in Luang Prabang

Lows

  • Service isn’t too slick; standards in Laos are not as good as surrounding countries so you have to be patient
  • Rates don't include 20% tax, and meals and spa treatments are expensive
  • The restaurant lacks atmosphere in the evening as most people eat out in Luang Prabang, though the food here is good
  • Set on a quiet road, but this doesn’t stop the odd local party and late-night karaoke session
  • WiFi is extremely patchy

Best time to go

Luang Prabang can be visited year-round, but high season traditionally starts in November and ends in March; this is the dry season. If you are not keen on the heat, avoid April and May. The rainy season is June to late October - hot, humid and wet, especially in June-July; but Luang Prabang gets much less rain than Vientiane. In our opinion, October is a great time to travel as everywhere is lush. The weather in November is traditionally very good, but it’s the busiest month by far.

Our top tips

Laos is not particularly conservative when it comes to dress code, but pack a long-sleeved shirt and trousers so you can cover up when visiting temples.

Great for...

City Style
Family
Honeymoon
Spa
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 31
  • Restaurant and bar (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
  • Bicycles Available
  • Private yoga sessions
  • Local tour operator for day trips
Room:

Rooms

The 31 attractive rooms are decorated in Farrow & Ball style shades, with polished wooden floors, beautiful silk cushions, handwoven rugs and carefully chosen antiques. Comfortable kingsize beds are the main focus of each room, draped with fine cotton sheets and billowing white curtains. Bathrooms are tastefully tiled, with fragrant toiletries and soft robes.

Deluxe Rooms are the least expensive option, set in the garden buildings. All have balconies or terraces with garden views. Bathrooms are shower only, so if you like a soak, you'll need to upgrade - though note that larger rooms do not have any outside space. Junior Suites are a little larger and all have baths and a separate powerful shower. Some of these rooms were added in 2012, and these don’t have four-poster beds. However, all beds are incredibly comfortable with thick mattresses and fluffy pillows; we slept incredibly well here. Classic wooden shutters keep the noise and light out at night.

The 3 Satri House Suites are top of the pile, partly because they are so spacious, but mostly because they are situated in the original Unesco-listed house (Deluxe Rooms and Junior Suites are in separate buildings which are newer additions).

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Mosquito net
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Slippers
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • Umbrellas
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast is included in the room rate and served in the restaurant or out on its terrace. There are both Asian and Continental options - typical dishes include pancakes, scrambled eggs with bacon, and noodle soup - and everything is made to order. Fresh juice is also served.

There’s then a limited all-day Western menu, which includes spaghetti carbonara, club sandwiches and chicken nuggets. Daily specials tend to be more Asian in flavour.

The evening menu is extensive, though, and includes Asian, French and vegetarian influences. I had the pork fillet mignon with mustard sauce, which was delicious, and there's a superb selection of Laos classics: steamed Mekong fish in banana leaves, fresh shrimp with galangal root, and steamed lemongrass stuffed with pork and local herbs.

There's an enticing array of restaurants in Luang Prabang for a change of scene. Just around the corner is Delilah’s Place which serves fresh and healthy Lao cuisine (mixed greens with papaya; steamed fish in bamboo; green curry). A little further away try L’Elephant and Tamarind; the latter's lemongrass chicken is superb. During high season you do need to book, particularly at weekends.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Luang Prabang is famed for its intricate Buddhist temples; borrow a bike from the hotel to explore them all. Wat Xieng Thong is the oldest and finest, with stencilled gold columns
  • Wake before dawn to go and watch the daily procession of saffron-robed monks quietly collect alms (usually rice) from the local residents
  • There are a plethora of tiny boutiques in town, selling anything from handwoven cushions to silk clothes and century-old antiques. Our favourites are Orange Tree and Pathana Boupha Antique House
  • Relax in the herbal steam room at the hotel, snooze in the garden, or have an Indo-Chinese massage in the spa
  • Visit the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre, which beautifully presents the traditional dress and customs of many ethnic groups in Laos
  • Tamarind, a modern Lao restaurant, offers great-value traditional cookery lessons
  • The hotel is close to the night market, which sprawls around the Royal Palace selling handicrafts. Its pretty lights make it a lovely evening stroll. The palace itself is worth a visit by day; outlandish interiors with fine murals and interesting curios
  • A short drive from Luang Prabang is the Living Land Experience, a community enterprise where you can learn how locals grow rice and try traditional activities such as ploughing the paddy field with the help of a buffalo or pounding steel from a hot fire to make tools. Educational and proceeds go to a very worthy cause
  • Reception can recommend a reputable tour operator for day trips to the Pak Ou Caves and Kuang Si waterfalls

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures
  • Yoga

Kids

Satri House welcomes children of all ages - there’s a children’s menu and the rooms can easily take an additional bed. 0-3 year olds stay free of charge in a baby cot or sharing their parents' bed (free breakfast); there is a charge for 3-16 year olds in a rollaway bed (includes breakfast). The hotel has a very grown-up and peaceful atmosphere so it’s best suited to well-behaved children.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

All rooms can fit a baby cot or rollaway bed; if you have more than 1 child, you will need to book 2 rooms

Baby equipment:

Baby cots

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

Children's meals:

There's a Western children's menu with club sandwiches, sausage and mash, pasta and ice cream.

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Take a ride on electric bikes on a ‘half day no temples’ tour
  • Ride elephants at Elephant Adventure
  • Kids of all ages will love Kuang Si Waterfalls, there's also a bear sanctuary
  • Zip lines

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

8/
Rooms
8/
Food
8/
Service
8/
Value
8/
Overall

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Rates for Satri House