Vietnam Guesthouse Reviews

March 7, 2007

One month in Vietnam, eight guesthouses, most of which really impressed me. When you look at dollars spent, the quality of Vietnam’s accommodation far surpasses what we got in Thailand and Laos. Some guesthouses have gone so far above and beyond the measly $12 we paid them per night that I thought I should give them a mention, along with the not-so-stellar places, too.

Hanoi: Hanoi Guesthouse, 14 Bat Su St.
The crème de la crème. I don’t know where I heard about this guesthouse, but it was somehow book-marked in my computer. This place was incredible. Spotless rooms decorated with dark furniture, room cleaned everyday, awesome cable TV (with the Discovery Channel! Whoo!), and a fridge. Add to this free breakfast and free WiFi Internet. What pushed Hanoi Guesthouse over the top was the treatment we got from the staff. I have stayed (hell, I’ve worked) in 5-star hotels that didn’t have customer service that was as inviting and obliging as this guesthouse. They greeted me by name every time I walked into the lobby, made all of our travel arrangements, invited us to their Tet party, gave great tips about Hanoi, and in general, made our guesthouse a place where we wanted to be. All of this for $12 a night.

Sapa: Royal View Hotel
Another incredible hotel. Our room felt like a cozy chalet, with nice furniture, warm, pink walls, and a canopy over the bed. We had a bathtub in the bathroom and a (non-working) fireplace. The views into the valley were awe-inspiring. No breakfast or Internet, but the $15 we paid was very worth the “luxury” of this hotel.
Sapa: Lotus Hotel
At $6 a night, this place was good value, but of course not as luxurious as the Royal View. However, the room was spotless, huge, and well-appointed. No complaints here and I’d definitely recommend this hotel to budget-travelers.

Ninh Binh: Thuy Anh Hotel, 55A Truong Han Sieu
Affiliated with Hanoi Guesthouse, we booked this before arriving in Ninh Binh. As the hotel was bursting with raucous European tour groups, they barely had any rooms left. We paid $15 for a quadruple that was far too big for us, but was nevertheless very clean. The cable had MTV, too. Breakfast or Internet wasn’t included. The owner was a true professional – always in a suit, immaculate English, and 5-star guest treatment – and his wife was lovely, too. We did encounter some frustration with indifferent staff at reception and in the restaurant. Speaking of which, the food in the restaurant was awful. Not a bad stay, but if we could do it over again, I’d have chosen a different place.

Hue: Binh Duong I, 4/34 Nguyen Tri Phuong
Yet one more gem. This hotel is Japanese-owned and all of the bubbly staff spoke great Japanese. Rooms were very clean and bright, with the luxury of a bathtub, in-room Internet, a fridge, and satellite TV (with the Discovery Channel, HBO, and Stars!!!) We paid $12 for our room, which I thought didn’t include breakfast, but after talking to some other people who stayed there, it might have. (Didn’t matter anyway, since we became morning regulars at the too-cheap family restaurant next door.) Our room was cleaned everyday, too, and there was even one day when the housekeeper folded my pajamas that I had haphazardly strewn on the bed.

Dalat: Dreams Hotel, 151 Phan Dinh Phung St.
We’re torn between here and Hanoi Guesthouse as our Vietnam favorites. Dreams Hotel was our dream come true (I’m sorry, you had to see that coming.) Once again, squeaky clean rooms, tasteful furniture, fridge, TV, WiFi, and shower booth. The owners were incredibly friendly and helpful. Best part? The superb breakfast! Served communally at a long table, we shared baguettes, eggs, fresh fruit, yogurt, juice, coffee, and spreads of the world (peanut butter for the Americans, Vegemite for the Aussies/Kiwis, Marmite for the Brits) with our fellow travelers. We were devastated to leave. By the way, a room with a shower booth is normally $15, but because of a booking error, we got it for $12. Whoot!

Saigon: Yellow House Hotel, 269/19 De Tham St.
The only real pox in our month in Vietnam. This hotel is also affiliated with the Hanoi Guesthouse, but what a disappointment! Although free internet and breakfast were included, the “satellite TV” actually had only local Vietnamese channels and the window didn’t lock. It wouldn’t have been so bad if we hadn’t paid $14. But amenities be damned, the biggest determinant of satisfaction in a guesthouse is cleanliness, and Yellow House failed miserably in this department. The lobby was dark and uninviting and the rooms were small, shabby, and dirty. This guesthouse obviously suffers from Lonely Planet Syndrome, a disease marked by a decrease in quality once an establishment is mentioned in the Venerable Book. Boo.
Saigon: Luan Vu, 35/2 Bui Vien St.

Dissatisfied with Yellow House, we moved down the street to Luan Vu. Great decision! The rooms here, while small, were very clean, with a TV, fridge, breakfast, and WiFi access. The staff were so smiley and warm; when we checked in in the morning, they offered us breakfast, even though two breakfasts weren’t included in the $12 we paid.

Phu Quoc: Beach Club
Not so much a guesthouse, as a boutique beach resort. I really liked the vibe of this place – small, quiet, and intimate. The facilities like the beach chairs and umbrellas were in great condition. Our room, a simple but tasteful affair, cost $15. With no air-con or hot water, the price was a bit steep, but what can you expect from an island resort? The food, however, was expensive and just so-so, so we walked 5 minutes up the beach every morning and night to eat at the Thousand Stars Resort, which, while incredibly cheesy, had friendly staff and good-value rooms, or so we heard. The food was good, too. I have mixed feelings about Beach Club. While the staff were friendly, they didn’t really go out of their way to be helpful. Plus, I didn’t really feel that I got the same bang for my buck as other places in Vietnam. The problem, however, is probably more in my expectations than in Beach Club; they simply don’t aim to accommodate the backpacker crowd.

Overall, Vietnam’s accommodations rocked. In Bangkok, we paid $12 for a fan room with no hot water; in Vietnam, we got the works. In addition, in Vietnam, we didn’t feel like backpackers. Even though we were only paying chump-change for our room, most guesthouse staff never treated us dismissively. I will be very sad tomorrow when we say goodbye to Vietnam and its in-room WiFi Internet access and satellite cable TV.


2 Responses to “Vietnam Guesthouse Reviews”

  1. Tammie said

    So…when are we planning a group venture to Vietnam?! I am so shocked (and impressed) at the quality you received for the price you paid! Seriously, I’m on the next red eye….

  2. sailorjes said

    I was telling Shin before we left Vietnam that there’s really no point in paying so much money to stay in “nice” hotels, when we can pay $12, get a clean room, most of the amenities, and free breakfast and internet thrown in! Wish we had places like this in the US. I’ve never stayed in a youth hostel, but Shin has and he says they’re nasty.

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