“Huge, uber-comfortable rooms in a villa-style hotel, perched on a riverbank overlooking Luang Prabang”
The Apsara Rive Droite has 9 rooms, all beautifully decorated in very good taste. All room are identical save that the Garden View Deluxes are on the ground floor and the River View Deluxes are on the first: upstairs rooms have a lovely view of verdant mountains and a more private terrace, although easy access to the pool and a garden view is a draw for the downstairs rooms. They are all extremely large, with shuttered French windows leading to private terraces, and dark wooden floorboards. Simple Asian motifs and framed black and white photographs depicting rural Lao life in the 1950s adorn the walls.
Each room has an alcove housing a sumptuous kingsize bed, with a fashionable Jim Thompson silk print hanging above it. Elegant lanterns made from Chinese fabric give subtle evening lighting, and a tropical fruit bowl greets you on arrival.
Spacious bathrooms have a walk-in rain shower, a bathtub for 2, and a double vanity area, all tiled in slate grey. Signature toiletries and handmade soaps are placed in traditional glazed plates.
The overall effect is one of elegance and style, with every comfort and practicality thought of, and a couple of unexpected luxuries such as iPod docks. All rooms have an outdoor daybed, and some have indoor daybeds too, which can be made up as a single bed. Terraces also have a wicker table and 2 chairs, perfect for an aperitif.
The restaurant is a small, open-sided affair with bleached white wicker furniture spilling out onto an outdoor terrace. The bar, inside, has a few stools dotted around and offers a great selection of cocktails and aperitifs such as Pastis or Kir.
All meals can be eaten here, with breakfast served until noon for late risers. This (included in the room rate) has a French twist, and the hotel uses a patisserie in Luang Prabang for breads and viennoiserie. We demolished our toasted baguettes and flaky buttery croissants, the best we’ve tasted for some time, but luckily still had room for a seasonal fruit plate with tasty papaya, mango and banana. The petit dejeuner also includes a hot choice, such as eggs, pancakes or a spicy Laos omelette, all washed down with freshly squeezed orange juice and a jug of strong coffee.
If you're around at lunchtime, the a la carte menu offers some lighter fare. Baguettes are a good choice, but we'd recommend one of the tasty and wholesome salads, either Asian-style roasted aubergine, or beef and lemongrass salad. Laos staples such as fried noodles or rice are available, too.
If you’re planning a night in, the restaurant is a lovely spot for an evening drink and meal. We started off with the house cocktail, a mint and lychee martini, then had the traditional Laos set dinner, which you need to order in the morning. This was a great showcase of Laos food, including some unusual choices you might not think of ordering, such as fried river weed, which was delicious! The main course had 4 dishes, and we loved the Laab Gai, a spicy minced chicken salad, and the Mekong Fish, steamed in banana leaves and perfectly seasoned with dill.
For an evening out, Luang Prabang has a wealth of options for drinks and food, and a great buzz in the evening with shops and markets staying open late for after-dinner browsing. We liked Utopia and Lao Lao Garden for pre-dinner BeerLao’s, and enjoyed food in L’Elephant and the 3 Nagas restaurant (Les 3 Nagas).