Great value, great experience
07 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, Hoi An T: (0510) 386 3631
Staying at the San Hien Family Guesthouse isn’t for everyone — luxury accommodation this ain’t at $12 a night for a basic room. If you want to experience a bit of history mixed with ambience on the eerie side, however, this 200-year-old house would be great. Located just three houses down from the Japanese Bridge on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, this former boarding house once provided shelter for crews of traders sailing along the old marine silk road.
The entrance to Sanh Hien Family Guest House is easy to miss. The dark and cluttered entrance is chock full of souvenirs on display and closely guarded by a pack of clay whistle-tooting elderly ladies but push through for a warm welcome by Madame Nanh, a sprightly 70-year-old multilingual grandmother.
The dusty old timber-framed house hosts museum-worthy giant urns and a rather regal family temple. The old boarding quarters eventually lead to an outdoor riverfront courtyard — home to your bathroom, the family kitchen and a rather lovely view.
Of the three rooms, we were only able to see one and even then had to evict Madame Nanh’s sister for a look. The mildly depressing fan-cooled, basic windowless twin came with ancient plug sockets, coffee table, lamp, mosquito net and two beds with mattresses stacked on top of one another, Princess and the Pea style. The outside bathroom is clean and great for multi-taskers looking for a hot water shower while on the loo. Nanh reassured us that the other two rooms are bigger and have windows overlooking the courtyard.
The rate of $12 a night for a private room of this standard in Hoi An is good value. Most similar guesthouses like Hoang Trinh or B’Lan House start at the $15 mark and are a good 10-minute-walk from the old town. Nhan doesn’t advertise and relies on walk-in guests which generally means it’s empty most of the year, save for a few word of mouth guests.
Sanh Hien is barely comfortable and you might want to bring your own silk sleeping bags, but for one night, you can’t beat the experience.
By Caroline Mills
Last updated on 18th August, 2014.