The more I travel, the more I realize that being a savvy budget traveler isn’t necessarily about paying the absolute minimum for everything – it’s about knowing when and how to cut costs, as well as when to spend a little more in the name of a memorable experience. Most nights we pay $1 for a street food dinner, but some nights we sit down at a real restaurant to eat, with a beer alongside our plates. Most nights we sleep on hard guesthouse beds, ever vigilant for cockroaches in the bathroom, but some nights we’re lucky enough to stay in places like the Salana Boutique Hotel. You could certainly find cheaper hotels in Vientiane, but you’d be hard-pressed to find one as warm, welcoming, and downright gorgeous.
Brent and I arrived in Vientiane via an overnight mini-van ride from Chiang Mai, a typically uncomfortable ride that became even more unpleasant when our van broke down halfway and we had to wait for over 3 hours in the middle of the night for a new van to come from Chiang Mai. By the time we arrived in Vientiane, I felt pretty embarrassed to enter the lobby of such an obviously nice hotel, with matted hair, tired eyes, and questionable body odor. I’m not usually the kind of person to rave about good service – frankly, I don’t mind if the server in a restaurant doesn’t come around to refill my water glass ever 5 minutes, or a taxi driver doesn’t ask me where I’m from; yet, the service at Salana Boutique Hotel really made an impact on me. The front desk staff didn’t take a second look at our slightly scruffy appearances (or if they did, they hid it well), and their smiles didn’t feel the slightest bit forced. They chatted with us genuinely as they took our information and checked us in.
I was surprised to learn that the Salana Boutique Hotel mainly caters to business travelers, because it felt like the complete opposite of a bland business hotel. Everything, from the lobby to our room, had a feeling of authenticity that is often lost by hotels in an attempt to convey a modern and sleek image.
Despite the hotel’s elegance, it still exuded the same down-to-earth charm that makes Vientiane itself so appealing, with local artwork, Lao wood accents, faux-antique furnishings, and bright flowers placed in the bathroom and bedroom. After spending the previous night trying to sleep in a cramped mini-van, we pretty much just melted onto the enormous soft bed in our room. I talk about beds a lot when it comes to hotels in Asia because hard mattresses are incredibly common, so a comfortable bed pretty much seals my approval of any hotel or guesthouse room.
I had planned to catch-up on my freelance work during our first afternoon in Vientiane, so I was a little disappointed when I discovered that the hotel’s Wi-Fi wasn’t working. There continued to be connection problems throughout our one-night stay, however, Salana Boutique Hotel is located in downtown Vientiane, nearby the Mekong River, so it was easy for us to take our laptops to one of the many coffee shops and restaurants in the neighbourhood that offered free Wi-Fi. Like the rest of Vientiane, the area around the hotel was lively and interesting, yet somehow tranquil at the same time. Last time we were in Laos, we ate at a restaurant where the cover of the handwritten menu joked that Laos P.D.R stands for “please don’t rush” – that pretty much sums up the pace of life in Vientiane: Slow and easy-going.
Breakfast the following morning was equally as lovely as everything else at the hotel, with a small, but satisfying, buffet selection, along with made-to-order eggs and omelets. Overall, the appeal of Salana Boutique Hotel is not just that it’s immaculate – it’s that it manages to have so much character too. If you’re looking for a hotel in Vientiane that’s worth the slight splurge, this is definitely it.
Disclosure: This review was brought to you by Salana Boutique Hotel . I strive to provide honest reviews, and only recommend places and products that I really believe you would enjoy as much as I did.