Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa

Sapa, Hanoi & North, Vietnam Book from

Reviewed by Samantha Coomber
Part of a French-run 4-star chain in Vietnam, the Victoria is far and away the most comfortable hotel in the mountain town of Sapa
High in Vietnam's northwest highlands at 1650m altitude, the former French hill station of Sapa lies in a spectacular valley framed by mountain peaks, including Indochina’s highest. And this hotel - one of 8 French-run Victoria resorts in Vietnam - gives you the Sapa experience on a completely different level: nothing else in the region compares for comfort, style and service.

The French may long have packed up, but the resort carries on the legacy. Set on a hill in private gardens, yet still in the centre of town, the building resembles an Alpine chalet - from varnished wood interiors and stone fireplaces to cheese fondues for dinner; with a nod to the region's famously colourful hilltribe culture by way of embroidered hemp bedspreads and other ethnic decorations. It's the perfect base to explore some of the area's unique villages and markets, with excellent trekking opportunities - all of which the resort can arrange. And the romantic overnight train ride aboard their own 'Victoria Express' from Hanoi is a memorable travel experience in its own right.

Highs

  • Unlike many Victoria hotels, guest rooms have good heating (it can drop to zero at night) and piping hot baths; there's a vast fireplace in the lobby, and a generator in case of power cuts
  • Enclosed in verdant grounds above Sapa’s main drag, it offers enviable privacy and tranquility
  • The only place in town that provides decent in-resort diversions if the weather deteriorates (which it can)
  • Their carriages are much more comfortable and hassle-free than the public trains from Hanoi
  • Families will appreciate the kids club, wide lawns and babysitting

Lows

  • At nearly 80 rooms, it's much more resorty than most i-escape places
  • The bedrooms, though smart and spacious, are not the most characterful
  • Some of the hill tribe tours are a bit jaded and mercenary, but staff can arrange a bespoke trip - or blaze your own trail if you want

Best time to go

Generally good weather throughout the year. The finest weather of the year extends from September till May with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 30°C. It can be quite cold during winter (18°C ) from November till end of February. The monsoon prevails from June till September with stronger breezes and higher humidity with limited rainfall. Temperatures are warmer during this time, varying between 25°C to 35°C.

Our top tips

Don't miss the exciting high-pressure water massage in the spa. Sounds scary but we're told it's amazing!

Great for...

Eco
Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel & Spa
  • 77
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Indoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Tennis Court
  • Snooker Table
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Deluxe Queen

Rooms

Guest rooms - a total of 73 rooms, 2 suites and 2 family studios - are in a separate block from the main wing, set around an immaculately manicured garden. All radiate a cosy mountain-chalet feel, with warm, earthy tones and varnished wood floors and panelling. Colonial touches - ceiling fans, rattan chairs, brass fixtures - blend with ethnic décor of bright embroidered hemp wall hangings and bedspreads. You'll find a sitting area with sofa and writing desk, plus tea and coffee making facilities, as well as radiators in both bedroom and bathroom. Beds are firm, with soft pillows.

Ensuite bathrooms come with bathtubs and oodles of hot water, though some fittings could do with updating. Private wooden balconies or terraces, featuring sofas and quaint window boxes of geraniums, look out over the garden, mountains or town.

Garden View Rooms, with queensize or twin beds, come in 'Superior' or higher-priced 'Deluxe' guises, the former on garden level with a terrace, the latter on the upper floors with a balcony. The Family Garden View Studios are spacious with queensize and 3 single beds and large balcony ideal for families of 4-5. The same-sized Garden View Suites feature a kingsize four-poster bed draped with mosquito nets, a large living room and a balcony. Up to an additional 2 small children are welcome in all rooms, free of charge, if sharing a bed with their parents.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Fan
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • WiFi

Eating

This is one of the highlights of the resort, especially if you feel like a change from classic Vietnamese coastal fare. With its lofty beamed ceiling, old hunting implements on the walls and grand, centrepiece fireplace, the Ta Van restaurant feels almost like a hunting lodge. In the summer months, you can dine out on the terrace overlooking the pristine lawns.

An all-day a la carte menu offers local and international dishes using fresh seasonal produce, but with some distinctly European dishes thrown in. Among the spring rolls and grilled beef in bamboo, you'll find Alpine specialities like cheese fondues and raclette; and a fine wine list including the Victoria group’s own collection. It's certainly the closest you'll come to fine dining in Sapa; come on a Saturday evening and you'll coincide with one of the weekly dances performed by hill people. The bar, Ta Fin has a large fireplace and is perfect to cosy up in, with a glass of mulled wine, at the end of a long day exploring.

If you prefer to eat out, options in town include ,Camellia (unpretentious local food including grilled deer and apple wine), La Petite Bouffe in The Gecko hotel on Ham Rong Street (passable French-style food, including duck breast and boeuf bourguignon) and the English-owned Red Dragon Pub at 21 Muong Hoa Street (warming Western-style dishes and cold beers).

The European-style buffet breakfast is exceptional - a veritable smorgasbord of homemade jams, breads and pastries, plus yoghurts, mueslis, freshly squeezed exotic juices, cheeses and cold cuts, as well as cooked western and Asian dishes. Whatever your plans for the day, it will keep you fuelled up.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating: Breakfast in the garden
Activity:

Activities

  • Sapa’s main attraction, besides astonishingly terraced rice fields, sweeping valleys and lush mountainscapes, are the diverse hill tribe villages and markets, courtesy of more than 30 ethnic groups living in and around Sapa. The front desk can organize a la carte or tailor-made tours
  • Sapa’s weekend market is easily walkable, but the more remote weekly markets - such as Muong Hum, Coc Ly and Can Cau markets, all up near the Chinese border - are far more interesting and ethnically diverse. Bac Ha Market, 80km (50 miles) from Sapa, convenes on Sunday mornings and is the largest, most colourful market of the region; it’s also the most crowded, with many tourists converging. These markets are reached along jaw-dropping mountain roads by Russian jeep, as one-day excursions (Coc Ly is reached part way by boat ride upstream); some can be coordinated with small treks and train transfers to/from Lao Cai
  • Several hill-tribe villages in the surrounding valleys, such as Ta Van, Ta Phin and Lao Chai, involve gentle hikes of a few hours. Further afield, more authentic villages can be experienced in full-day or multi-day treks, including “live like a local” overnight stays in stilt houses (albeit with some of Victoria's comforts thrown in). Transport is usually by jeep
  • Staff can arrange mountain bikes or jeep hire (with driver) if you feel like taking off independently
  • The more adventurous can climb Mount Fansipan. Just 5km (3 miles) as the crow flies from Sapa, this challenging climb takes 2-3 days up steep overgrown trails, very much dependant on variable weather conditions - heavy rains make it treacherous, and it should only be undertaken with experienced guides. If you do get to the summit, you are rewarded with mind-blowing panoramas
  • In-resort activities include billiards, gym, tennis, spa and swimming in the pool
  • Finish your trip with a ride on the Victoria Express Train

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Mountain biking
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Tennis
  • Traditional cultures

Kids

This is a great hotel for families - as long as you can cope with a long overnight train transfer after your international flight. With wide lawns to play on, a kids club and babysitting, not to mention plenty of things to do both nearby and in the hotel, it has got a lot to recommend it to an intrepid travelling family.

No additional charge for one or two children under 12 sharing the same room and the existing bedding

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

The pick of the bunch is the Family Garden View Studio, a spacious set of rooms with a double bed and 3 singles, sleeping a family of 4-5 comfortably.

Babysitting:

Available on request.

Baby equipment:

  • Cots

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

Creche/Kid's Club:

The Kids Club is located near the lobby, facing the rabbit garden, and is equipped with TV, cartoon DVDs and kids toys. The Kids Club is open from 7.00 am-9.00 pm for those aged 2 and up. Children under 2 must be accompanied by a parent or babysitter.

Children's meals:

There's an all day a la carte menu, so you don't have to worry about being difficult about mealtimes. While food is generally Asian, there are some recognisably European items on the menu. Baby food may be hard to come by so bring it with you or consult with the hotel prior to visiting.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Pool
  • Mountain bikes
  • Billiards, petanque, tennis and board games
  • Children's rabbit garden
  • Great lawns/gardens to play on
  • TV and international movies on demand

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Hill tribe visits
  • Colourful markets to visit
  • Jeep tours
  • Trekking up Mount Fansipan with guides (older kids only)

Families Should Know:

It's a long trek to get here - so kids need to be good travellers.

Distances:

  • Airport: 165km (Hanoi), reached via train and taxi
  • Hospital: 5 minutes
Kid Friendly: Kids club

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