When many of us think of taking an exotic vacation to southeast Asia, we imagine ourselves admiring the misty mountains, and fields of rice paddies accented with palm trees. Feeling the dampness in the air, the roosters crowing and the cows mooing. We spot local farmers in the fields, families on motorbikes, and kids playing in a river.
These wonderful experiences allow us to escape our busy lives.
And the only thing that makes this experience more relaxing is to spend it at an exotic luxury hotel, where you can soak in this sights, sounds, and smells of southeast Asia while being pampered with service and the perfect environment. After staying at some amazing hotels around the world, we were impressed to have this experience in Vang Vieng, Laos at the incredible Riverside Boutique Resort.
Why The Riverside Boutique Resort in Vang Vieng, Laos is One of the Best
As travelers, we enjoy a wide variety of accommodation options. But sometimes the accommodation is what makes the experience unique. While we’re not overly picky or pretentious about service and quality, we both studied hospitality in school and thoroughly appreciate a good experience — whether it is at a budget hotel, B&B, Airbnb (we love those too), or even a luxurious hotel.
You would expect to be impressed with the service at a luxury hotel — but sadly, not every luxury hotel holds up this part of the bargain. However, our stay at the Riverside Boutique Hotel in Vang Vieng not only met our expectations, but they exceeded them…consistently. In the end, this is what impressed us the most about this beautiful resort in Laos.
A high level of customer service and consistency is what every hotel, especially luxury hotels, strive for. That can be difficult anywhere, but complicating matters is that we are in southeast Asia. A place where service standards, expectations, and cultural norms are different.
At the Riverside Boutique Resort, we were please to see a local Lao staff who had been trained superbly and provided us with one of the absolute best hotel experiences that we have ever had.
Greeted With a Smile and a Cold Beverage
Whenever we are in a hot destination and arrive at a hotel, I can’t tell you how great it feels to be greeted with genuinely smiling faces, and handed a refreshing cold beverage. Just that tiny act makes you feel special!
At the Riverside Boutique Resort in Vang Vieng, this beverage was a local hibiscus tea. With it’s dark red color, I initially thought it was some kind of wine. The taste was a bit tangy and tart. We were surprised to learn it is technically a tea, because it really looked and tasted more like a juice. It was a rich tasting tea, yet it it had a light aftertaste that was refreshing.
Made onsite by the hotel chefs, this local tea was a wonderful way to be greeted on a super hot day in Laos!
While sipping our drink, the receptionists checked us in and chatted with us about local activities. They told us about the free bikes outside, which we were welcome to take for a ride across the bridge and into the village and surrounding countryside. They also talked about some upcoming festivals that we shouldn’t miss.
Unveiling the Curtain on a Magnificent View
After check in, our hosts led us outside and immediately when we opened the doors, we gasped at the scene. We stepped into a magnificent courtyard, surrounded by lush a landscape of flowers and trees…and the focal point was an inviting swimming pool that overlooked the river and majestic karst mountains. It really was like a curtain was pulled back, and we were transported into this perfect scene.
The view itself is amazing, the but the vibrant colors of the impeccably garden really make it come to life. An array of flowering trees and bushes surrounded the walkways, framing every glimpse of the pool, river and mountains perfectly as if you are always ready to take a photo.
Speaking of That Amazing Pool
The swimming pool really is the centerpiece to this resort, because it brings your attention to the primary attraction…the views! On hot days like when we visited, the crisp water of the pool and the padded loungers, umbrellas, tables, and carefully folded towels beckoned us to relax in this little oasis.
And as if taking a dip and admiring the view doesn’t make you feel spoiled enough, the moment you sit yourself on a lounger there is a dutiful waiter already bringing you a cold cup of refreshing water, or whatever else you may want to order off the bar or snack menu. Again, all about that service!
I can’t tell you how great it felt to relax in that pool and gaze out at the scenery all around me. After a long day out exploring the natural scenery around Vang Vieng (which is amazing), it felt good to just soak it all up. Listening to the sound of the river, birds, and wind blowing through the palm trees, I felt ultimately at peace and had time to really think about my experience in Laos.
As if the pool and view wasn’t beautiful enough during the day, one evening I looked out my window and was delighted to see that the staff had placed evenly-spaced candles all around the pool!
Glimmering in the dark and reflecting off the pool, this simple yet magical effect is probably something I will remember the most about my visit to the Riverside Boutique Resort in Vang Vieng. This scene combined with the lovely lanterns high in the tree beyond the pool and over the restaurant, epitomizes the spirit of this hotel.
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It was truly a scene that I will never forget. And each evening, I stayed out on the balcony by myself, sitting in a chair, having a cup of tea and just admiring the never ending beauty that surrounded me.
Luxury Hotel Rooms That Showcases the Local Culture
One of the things that we love the most about staying at the Riverside Boutique Resort is the way they embrace the local Lao culture and integrate it into every aspect of the hotel. Some hotel rooms are just that, and are the same anywhere you travel in the world.
When we travel, we want to be reminded at all times where we are & feel immersed in the experience.
So it goes beyond having a local staff or traditional food in the restaurant. It’s about the art and décor.
That’s what we really loved about the hotel rooms at the Riverside Boutique Resort. The actually have six styles of rooms, each of which pays respect to a particular group of Lao people and their culture and traditions. From the Hmong, Akha, Tai Lue, Tai Daeng, Lanten, and the Kutu (the style of room that we had).
The rooms at the Riverside Boutique Resort in Vang Vieng are specious, modern, comfortable, but more importantly, they give you the sense that you are in Laos. It’s not just a cookie cutter hotel room, but a connection to the local area.
The furnishings were natural wood and rattan, keeping with the natural feel and elements. The neutral colors were calming, and we enjoyed the touches of color and greenery with the art and plants. It really was peaceful and relaxing the moment we stepped into the room.
Local Accents in the Rooms
The accents in the room are really what set it a part from others we’ve stayed in. Being themed for local tribes in Laos, they have incorporated elements of art, tapestry, crafts, and colors of the tribes, and even include a handout in the room describing the local people and the heritage. This was perfect for us, because we enjoy reading about the local culture – including arts and crafts. So it was really cool to be able to relax in our room and read all about the different pieces of decor surrounding us.
The pillows, bed runners, and curtains were all handmade from local artisans using traditional methods. They even included beads within the tapestry, a traditional design for the Kutu group. In fact, learning the details about the artistry for each ethnic group in Laos here at the Riverside Boutique actually helped me to understand what I was seeing in the local markets as we traveled throughout Laos.
So it was wonderful to be able to learn about this in my hotel room!
We truly loved this aspect about the hotel, because we are curious travelers who really enjoy not only learning about the local culture and history, but feeling like we can participate in it in a natural way. These accents gave the room and homey yet exotic feeling, knowing every moment that we are in beautiful Laos and not any other country.
Also, the décor is a great opportunity to enable the local community to participate in the industry and demonstrate their traditions. And the gift shop at the resort showcases many of the accents you can find in your room and beyond. From the artwork, to the textiles, accessories, and much more. We enjoyed browsing the shop ourselves, and of course bought something to remember our trip!
A Modern Hotel Room & That Balcony!
We found the room to have everything we needed, even a great seating, table and work area. Modern amenities included a great bathroom with wonderful hot water and pressure, a minibar, coffee and tea maker, robes and slippers, great WiFi (not always easy to find in Laos), and a smart tv — which we always love because we can plug in our USB and watch our movies.
The balconies and terraces at the Riverside Boutique Resort in Vang Vieng are really something special. Ours, like many others, overlooked the pool, river and mountains. This large balcony with comfy lounging chairs and a table was used often by us during our visit (even though it was so hot) because the views never get old. Morning, day or night…we loved sitting out there listening to nature’s sounds and gazing out at the view.
This is why we came to Laos.
The Riverside Boutique’s Restaurant and AMAZING Breakfast!
The Restaurant du Crabe d’Or is perched above the bar, and has panoramic views over the property – including the pool and garden area, as well as out over the river and the mountains across the way. You can sit indoors, or outdoors and admire the views. At night, the large towering tree near the restaurant is lit up with lanterns from top to bottom – adding even more to the wonderful setting.
With a wide menu that includes Lao specialties and western favorites, the menu is diverse in it’s offering and prices. In the morning, there is also a free (and massive) breakfast for guests that included cooked-to-order omelettes, fruits, salads, soups, breads, cheeses, juices coffee and more. During our stay we found the food to be exceptionally good.
The service at the restaurant made us feel like we were dining in a quality establishment in a big city, not in the Lao countryside. While you can walk to restaurants around town, we found that the food quality, service, and atmosphere here at the Restaurant du Crabe d’ Or was fantastic.
Also, the prices we thought were quite reasonable for the area — a bonus when you are staying at a hotel of this nature. So we definitely recommend eating at the hotel during your stay (or even if you are staying elsewhere)!
Enjoy a Welcome Cocktail With the Staff on Your First Night
The Nam Song bar near the pool has a lovely air conditioned inside area, with relaxing seating areas and local art on display, while the outside has tables and chairs alongside the river. A particularly great place to have a drink and watch the sunset.
In fact, each night the hotel has a “welcome” cocktail hour where the staff relax with you and chat about the resort, nearby activities, and your visit. It’s a very comfortable atmosphere, and one that we really loved.
It felt like you got to know the different staff members, and removes the barriers of a desk or bar.
This is a really cool way to not only get to know each other, but it is helpful if you have questions or want to make some plans. There are so many things to do in Vang Vieng, it can actually be a little overwhelming! So it’s good to get some recommendations from the staff.
They can also help you with any kind of arrangements and bookings. They even partner with Green Discovery, a local tour operator in the area with a diverse offering and great reputation. But even if you want to rent a motorbike and explore on your own, they can advise you on how to go about it and where you should explore.
Our Final Thoughts on the Riverside Boutique Resort in Vang Vieng
Over the course of our visit, we were continuously impressed with the service and attention to detail at the resort. From the moment we walked in the door and were handed our welcome drink, to our cocktail hour chatting with the staff, the pool attendants who handed us water almost immediately when we sat down, to the wait staff at the restaurant who perfectly attended to our needs.
We were greeted everywhere we went with smiling, genuinely helpful faces.
We felt welcomed, we felt spoiled.
The property itself is beautiful, and in a convenient location. The hotel can help arrange transportation to and from the bus station, but it’s actually just a short 10 minute walk into the center of town. However, the town of Vang Vieng isn’t really the highlight of the area. It’s really all about nature.
The river, the mountains, the caves, villages, the rice fields, and people. This is what Vang Vieng is really all about. The Riverside Boutique Hotel is also in a great location to take advantage of these many natural attractions. Being on the river, you are close to activities and kayaking tours. And you are also near one of the main toll bridges in the area that goes over the water to a village and the most wonderful rural valley! This is actually the same road that goes to the famous Blue Lagoon too – a great place to go swimming!
So hop on one of their free bikes and take a ride across the river, and be deep in the heart of rural Laos.
The free breakfast was wonderful every morning, and the free welcome cocktail was just a wonderful bonus too. They are also building an outdoor sala so that they can offer outdoor massages too. Certainly, we would have loved to experience one of those…so maybe we’ll just have to return?!?!
Overall, we would highly recommend a stay at the Vang Vieng Riverside Boutique Resort for anyone traveling to Laos who has a taste for luxury and appreciates a high level of service. We can attest that the service was top notch and consistent, by far one of the best hotel experiences we have had. The hotel should be proud of their commitment not only to guest service, but also to the local community. We really appreciated the way they embrace the culture and bring it into the resort so the guests can feel connected to the region. We were impressed every moment and thank them for their hospitality in hosting us for an incredible visit!
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