French classical vibe flows throughout the entire hotel which boasts luxurious functionality at its best.
Text by Jan Yong | Photography by Jan Yong & Hotel Des Arts Saigon
Imagine soaking in a luxurious bathtub, sipping wine while the sound of rain pitter-pattering outside can be heard. Soon, your eyelids feel heavy and you drift off to a tranquil place. Welcome to Hotel Des Arts Saigon – a little oasis of peace, calm and beauty in the whirlwind of energetic frenzy that is Ho Chi Minh City.
And one of the vehicles that transports you to the oasis is its clawfoot bathtub. Located right behind the double bed separated by a curtain, the German-made Kohler tub is the most inviting object the moment you open the door to your room. It is clean, fits your body nicely, and your head feels comfortable resting on the edge. A relaxing dip in the hot tub after a long day in Saigon is the perfect antidote to the stresses of the day, whether you have been visiting all the famous sights in HCMC or attending back-to-back meetings.
Available only in the suites and deluxe rooms, the tub is one unique thing about Hotel Des Arts Saigon which sets it apart from many other newer hotels which have dispensed with such a luxury. The tub has proven particularly popular with the Japanese who always ask for a room with a bathtub.
The bed itself is very comfortable as can be expected from a 5-star hotel. It faces the French doors that overlook the busy street below while at higher floors, the rooms get a sweeping view of part of the HCMC skyline. A charging/socket point is also thoughtfully placed next to the bed while a variety of socket points are placed next to the table, making it very convenient for many of today’s business and leisure guests with their wide-ranging gadgets that need charging.
While many of the amenities within the room are typical of a 5-star hotel, there are a few unique touches that are worth mentioning – the hotel’s proprietary toiletries and the Toshiba flat-screen TV that’s hung up at about 15% tilt allowing you a comfortable viewing position from the bed. As befits its boutique hotel status, the furniture, fixture and fittings are emblazoned with the top brand names in the industry.
For breakfast, the buffet spread at the Saigon Kitchen was good, rated an average 7 out of 10, typical of many other 5-star hotels. No complaints there except perhaps a more varied spread from day to day would be heartily welcomed. Another enjoyable experience was the infinity swimming pool on the 24th floor which has a bird’s eye-view of most of HCMC’s skyline including the Bitexco Financial Tower, which at 68-storey high is the tallest building in Vietnam. At night, the pool’s sunken bar is transformed into a DJ’s workstation. The in-house DJ on this particular Saturday night was mixing some of the grooviest tunes to a crowd comprising some of Saigon’s hippest. The view is fantastic and there is a nice breeze while the pool acts as a sort of centrepiece giving out its good water feng shui vibe. Water, wind and wonderful views – a great combination. Not surprisingly, the Social Club bar is one of the hottest night spots in town.[ihc-hide-content ihc_mb_type=”show” ihc_mb_who=”1,2,3,4,5,6″ ihc_mb_template=”1″ ]
Some of the crowd also spills over to the Social Club Lounge & Restaurant on the 22nd floor which has great ambience and is a popular spot for celebratory dinners and drinks. At the same time, you can also have a business chat over drinks. And if you climb the staircases up to the 25th floor, you will come across a glass-floor bridge, the first in HCMC, which takes you to the adjacent building at Centec Tower.
For the fitness fan, there is a gymnasium where some of the latest range of gym equipment can be found. Treadmills and stationary bicycles have screens that can connect to your phone, or access the Internet and TV. The connected gym ensures that you will never miss out on important messages or emails while you are working out.
Beyond the nifty amenities, the entire atmosphere of the hotel speaks of understated classical elegance which transports you to another era. You can’t help noticing the paintings on the wall – produced by some of the established artists as well as aspiring ones in Vietnam. “The paintings are the personal collection of the hotel,” says Pham Bao Thuyen, Marketing Communications Manager of the hotel. “This is one of the most unique aspects of this hotel – a number of paintings by some of Vietnam’s most innovative artists grace the walls of the hotel in the common areas,” says Thuyen, adding that the hotel has a mission to promote young Vietnamese artists.
“What drives this is the love of art by the owner and investors of the hotel,” she continues. In addition, the architecture and interior design of the hotel are specially crafted by specialists with great track records. Says Thuyen: “The 23rd floor and the roof top are designed by Super Potato firm from Japan while a Singapore outfit, DWP, designed the floors from the lobby all the way up to the 22nd floor.”
Flowers also adorn many spots in the hotel giving it a very beautiful and charming effect, courtesy of the hotel’s in house florist. And every day at 5.30pm, there is an in-house pianist weaving his magic to give it a lyrical mood. Managed by French hotel chain Accor, the hotel’s service is superior with very attentive and polite staff.
Located along the main road of Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, the 168-room hotel is within a few minutes’ walk from the main attractions in HCMC namely the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office, Opera House, Ben Thanh Market and the rather infamous War Remnants Museum.
You won’t realise this until you turn right as you go out of the hotel, then within 50 metres, on your left, you sight the red brick walls of the Notre Dame Cathedral and that’s when you realise you are just next door to the 100-yearold ‘off-shoot’ of the Grande Dame in Paris. It’s a fitting location for another French-inspired institution.[/ihc-hide-content]