When deciding on which city hotel to book, experienced travellers know that together with a spacious bathroom, good hanging closets and a designated work space, a prime location, executive floor privileges and good pillows go a long way to elevating your take-home impressions. This is particularly true when staying in busy South East Asian metropolises like Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City where the beat of the streets is frenetic and the climate sometimes challenges the toughest traveller.
Bedding It Down
International hotel research has shown that getting a good night’s sleep is at the top of travellers’ lists but finding it under hotel doonas is not always an easy matter. At the InterContinental Asiana Saigon the problem’s solved with super-lightweight yet warm duvets and a pillow menu that ranges from feather down made from a mixture of white goose feather and down wrapped in a dual shell of super-smooth Egyptian cotton, to firm latex rubber and synthetic varieties. Being a goose feather kinda gal, it’s heads-up I’m touching down for a heavenly night’s sleep….
Surrounded by Saigon’s historic sites, it’s an easy stroll to the neo-Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral, the French colonial Saigon Central Post Office designed by Gustave Eiffel no less and prettily painted in Saigon’s sunny gold and white and the Saigon Opera House built in 1897. Everything was imported from France for the 800-seat theatre which was once the exclusive province of French colonialists and now open for everyone to see the popular AO show. We pass shady green spaces where young people sit at dusk at pop-up ‘plop-down’ cafes to eat, drink and chatter en route to Propaganda restaurant that’s filled with French accents and edgy hipsters. On nearby Pasteur Street, the Coffee Factory brews freshly roasted coffee 24/7 and its casual, hole-in-wall-vibe reminds us of Melbourne. Turning right from the InterContinental’s entrance into Bai Ba Trung street, we head for 161A, Vietnam Designers House, where you can find fabulously original designer pieces created by local design talent in a stunning setting. Ah-mazing!
While it’s good to be in the middle of the action it’s great to retreat from the heat to the cocooned comfort of InterContinental’s Club Lounge and revive sagging spirits. What starts with a seamless check-in on the 19th floor at 2pm continues with an invitation to enjoy a delightful afternoon tea as tiers of bite-sized morsels such as mini macaroons and tiny savoury tartlets are presented. Before you can say “another pot of Earl Grey please” it’s time for cocktails and canapés and the kitchen brigade brings out a tantalising range of Vietnamese and Western dishes. Fortunately, it’s Friday when we check in, the only night of the week when a Vietnamese pancake stall is set-up cooking fresh-to-order. As cocktails are shaken, wines poured and sprits mixed, the only question remaining is why leave?
InterContinental Asiana Saigon, cnr Hai Ba Trung St & Le Duan Blvd. District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam www.intercontinental.com/saigon
Lincoln Harris from Asia Unbound helped 2onthewing not only to navigate Saigon’s streets but also to cross them. No mean feat!!