Over a pretty pond
Few hotels in Luang Prabang are as specially situated as Maison Dalabua. Did you know, when UNESCO designated the town a World Heritage Centre in 1995, not only did they protect 34 temples and 443 civic buildings, they also protected Luang Prabang’s vast system of natural ponds and wetlands? Maison Dalabua has incorporated one pond into their property and guests must traverse it via a series of boardwalks to reach the rooms and restaurant.
First off, the hotel’s location relative to the town centre is great. The village of Ban Thatluang is just outside of the peninsula area. It’s an easy 10-minute walk or bike ride along the main road before you turn left down a small lane and come upon Maison Dalabua’s low-key entrance, open-air lobby et voila! – a big pond chock full of water lilies.
Let’s start with the best of their offerings, all of which are air-con and have WiFi access and breakfast included in their rate. Three bungalows stand apart from the main hotel block, screened by some reeds. The bungalows are not the largest of the rooms yet it feels that way with their openness and simple layout. There’s a bit of a luxurious feeling with the richly stained, wide wooden floorboards, stylish bathroom with rain shower and glass doors that open to a terrace overlooking the pond.
The hotel block contains the rest of the rooms. Things don’t seem so promising from the outside with its heavy wooden facade and small windows. However, to our surprise the pond view and deluxe rooms have a decent amount of light. The white walls and white linens help to make the relatively small space feel clean and bright. The furniture and decorations are simple, with a welcome splash of colour brought in with cushions and hand-woven textiles.
The five classic rooms are basic and much darker, with smaller windows, a no-frills bathroom and a lot less natural light. They’re perfectly fine but compared to the others, it would be worth it to spend a little more to upgrade. By contacting and booking direct with the hotel, you may be able to get a 10-15% discount from the posted rate. Finally, the hotel added a swimming pool long enough to do a lap in.
The big question that probably comes to everyone’s minds: What about mosquitoes?
There are no more here than what’s usual for Luang Prabang. The pond is healthy and alive, teeming with fish to keep the mozzies in check. And on our several visits to the hotel, there has never been smell from the water as you might expect.
There isn’t a buffer between the hotel and the village so if you’re a light-sleeper, you will likely be serenaded by karaoke, barking dogs and roosters. Bring earplugs, or stay elsewhere. Finally, crossing water to get to your hotel room may not be for everyone though it is certainly beautiful to look at.
Maison Dalabua’s rates are very reasonable for what’s on offer and this is far more interesting choice than your run-of-the-mill Luang Prabang midrange hotel.
By Cindy Fan
Last updated on 12th February, 2016.
The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.