Watch your mouth!
39 Tran Cao Van Street, Hoi An T: 0510 3916 757 F: 0510 3916 699
The Phuoc An (be careful how you pronounce this one — it’s “fou an”) is a little gem of a hotel. A modern take on the Chinese-style architecture that Hoi An is famous for, by day it hides its light under a bushel but by night it sparkles beneath a blanket of vibrant yellow and red silk Chinese lanterns. Hidden down bustling Tran Cao Van Street and just a five-minute walk from the centre of the ancient town, the lane plays host to a local market each morning and is home to many family tailors; if you’re as nosy as I am you’ll catch a glimpse of them running up orders on antique Singer sewing machines for the shops in town.
Phuoc An’s facade is uninspiring in the sense that it looks like every other hotel in town, but after hearing rave reviews from guests I swallowed the horrific thought of having to find new adjectives to describe a structure so shamelessly copied and dropped in to see it for myself. I chose lunchtime to make my appearance as this is usually a good time to test out staff; it was comments about how wonderful the staff are that had put it at the top of my list of must-sees.
The lobby is fitted out in the usual dark wood panelling with a huge reception-cum-tour desk taking centre stage. To the right is a small business centre with six modern desktops from which a couple were researching the latest Gucci collections to print and rip off at their chosen tailor in town. It felt a bit dark until I was welcomed by a smiling receptionist decked out in a bright pink ao dai, who introduced herself as Nga before asking all the right questions in exceptionally good English.
Quite often when you ask to see a selection of rooms you have a bit of a battle to get any further than the one nearest the reception desk; Nga made a point of walking me around the 30-room hotel and explaining each highlight.
Three types of rooms are available. Three large three-bed family suites are located in a private building opposite the hotel and are great for families looking for a little peace and privacy. All the rooms are spotlessly clean, come with air-con and are huge, with shiny new en-suite bathrooms, comfortable beds, crisp cotton linen and windows offering differing views across town. Deluxe rooms come with an in-room computer and a bathtub. The rack rate of $45 is good value in comparison to competing hotels. The standard rooms at $25 are incredibly good value when compared with the similarly priced Vinh Hung 3 Hotel’s dark, windowless rooms.
Nga offered me discounted rates that were in line with their discounts on Agoda: $19 for a standard, $30 for a superior double and $33 for the deluxe, which is incredible value. At rack rate this is not a budget option, but you won’t find a better value hotel close to town.
Tucked away behind the restaurant (where I hear they serve one of the best breakfast buffets in town, included in the room price) is a courtyard pool large enough for a cooling dip. It’s a tiny oasis with a couple of sun-loungers precariously balanced at the pool edge, which might make it a little child unfriendly. The Phuoc An also offers to lend guests free bicycles, which for a hotel so central is quite unusual; and they are not quite the dangerous bone rattlers you can hire in town. The hotel has a relaxed, friendly ambiance and the shared terraces on each floor make for great sociable spaces to share stories of your travelling adventures with like-minded guests.
Of Hoi An’s hotels, this is one of the most central to the old town and is rarely affected by seasonal floods, thus avoiding the damp and musty after-effects. It’s popular with returning guests and backpackers who fancy a splurge, and it’s worth booking ahead to bag one of the better first or second floor rooms, as the ground-floor pool-view rooms lack privacy and can be a little noisy.
Tran Coa Van Street is one of the best street food areas in Hoi An; a few doors down from the hotel is the backpacker haunt Café 43 and its famous 3,000 VND fresh beer. Generally all the action takes place around a giant Banyan tree just before the road joins Tran Hung Dao. Depending on what time of the day you pass by you can pretty much sample every Hoi An specialty perched on a tiny plastic stool.
It’s more popular with locals than tourists and if you are a little unsure, plonk yourself in to the White Sail Cafe opposite, order a drink and the staff there will be more than happy to explain and even order the food (at locals prices) for you. The area does pack up early, ensuring a peaceful night’s sleep at the hotel.
By Caroline Mills
Last updated on 20th June, 2014.