The hotel is situated within a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage town, Luang Prabang, which was once upon a time the Royal capital of Laos. Typical of all Aman hotels, the exquisite interiors of Amantaka have been designed to ooze tranquillity and you’ll feel like you’re walking through a spa - the sense of serenity is sublime and it’s my favourite hotel in the country.
One of my favourite Amans, Amantaka couldn’t be more conveniently located. Touch down in Laos airport - you’ll be greeted straight off the plane, whizzed through immigration and a ten-minute drive later, you’re already settled into your hotel, relaxing into holiday mode.
Staff here are always smiling, always ready to help with anything you might need, and go above and beyond to make sure your stay is really comfortable. Expect this warm welcome throughout the country – everyone I met in Laos was wonderfully hospitable and it’s a real joy to travel there.
The style throughout Amantaka is typical of French colonial architecture; white walls are splashed with a little colour from traditional green shutters.
Settle into your beautiful suite, set within manicured lawns, where frangipani trees and bamboo bushes provide welcome shade. Rooms are simple but spacious, with high ceilings, beautiful teak furniture and incredible black and white wall photographs depicting monastic life in Laos.
All rooms include huge four-poster beds with beautiful white linens, and a number of suites include large private swimming pools with lounger chairs and outdoor dining spaces.
The beautiful hotel gardens encircle a large swimming pool and spa area, with ample outdoor terrace space, which is lovely for sitting out in the evenings enjoying a cocktail at sunset. Food in Laos is absolutely delicious and Amantaka’s combination of French and Lao cuisine is divine. The hotel also offers a wonderful high-tea; an eye-watering display of tasty pastries, tarts and fresh spring rolls to enjoy with chilled French Champagne – not to be missed.
Amantaka’s unique location within the town makes it perfect for getting a feel for local life. Wander the shops selling beautiful silks and pop into local restaurants and cafes to sample local fayre (Pho broth is very typical and absolutely delicious - they serve it at the hotel as well). Rise early at 5.40am to offer rice to the passing monks, followed by a coffee at Saffron overlooking the Mekong, or visit the town in the evening to peruse the night market.
The hotel’s bicycles make exploring the town and nearby temples or riverbank much easier, but you also have access to motorcycle-powered tuk-tuks or private cars should you wish, and staff are always on hand to offer their recommendations on where to explore each day. Close to the Mekong River, Nam Khan and overlooked by the sacred Mount Phousi, the areas to explore are simply stunning and activities range from outdoor adventures to spiritual discoveries. The hotel is respectful of the town’s Buddhist heritage and supports the local Buddhist community in many ways – this is a wonderful place to learn more about Buddhism and the traditional way of life of Laotian monks.
Amantaka organises a number of excursions that are exclusive to hotel guests; a cruise to Buddhist Pak Ou Caves on a private boat is a lovely excursion, as is the Mekong River cruise at sunset.
We highly recommend learning more about Asian food by spending a morning exploring the local market with the hotel’s charming head chef – it’s great fun and the colours and smells are sensational. If you have time, visiting Mandalao Elephant Sanctuary to feed and bathe adorable rescued elephants is a wonderful way to spend a morning, whilst supporting a fantastic cause. Children particularly love this activity, and there are a number of other excursions that can be arranged in the area to keep younger families entertained.
You can’t visit an Aman hotel and not treat yourself to a relaxing afternoon in the spa. Amantaka’s spa is completely beautiful with 4 treatment rooms, Jacuzzis, relaxation areas, sauna, steam room and hot and cold plunge pools. Why not indulge in a relaxing massage after a day exploring!
Every time I explore a new destination, whether it’s on an adventure holiday in Peru or a luxury beach escape in the Indian Ocean, I return home full of excitement to share the amazing sights I have seen. Through my own experiences I have developed a love of helping others experience the great wonders of the world; truly getting under the skin of the extraordinary destinations that are at your fingertips. Getting the details right, from which hotel is perfectly located for exploring away from the crowds, to which local guide is most knowledgeable on history or culture or art, is of paramount importance to me. I am constantly seeking out new and exciting experiences and exploring off the beaten track to ensure my clients are receiving the best and most honest first-hand advice.
Take a look at my travel diaries for food for thought on your next trip...