Pure colonial elegance in bustling Ho Chi Minh City
Since moving to Tokyo in 2012 I have managed to squeeze in one or two trips per year to SE Asia, with many visits prior to that as well. The way of life in this part of the world, combined with the food and scenery, lures me back time and time again – Vietnam being no exception, with me choosing to spend a week there in 2017, and just recently, a few weeks back.
My stay in Ho Chi Minh City this time around was to be at the amazing Park Hyatt Saigon, and was a part of the trip I was really looking forward to. I have stayed at the Hyatt Regency in Borneo before, and eaten at Andaz in Tokyo (also part of the Hyatt brand), but this was to be my first Park Hyatt experience.
Service with more than a smile
My lasting impression of Park Hyatt Saigon – apart from the hotel’s unmistakable colonial elegance – will be the service. Somehow, despite it being peak season in Ho Chi Minh City, every single member of staff managed to make us feel as if we were the only guests staying at the hotel. Friendly, courteous, and professional throughout, it is clearly evident that all the staff here have a strong background in hospitality. I have been lucky enough to stay in a number of five-star hotels over the years, but the quality of service on offer here was perhaps the best I have ever received. I would go as far as to say that during our stay the customer service at Park Hyatt Saigon was flawless.
Colonial elegance. Modern amenities.
Despite oozing French-colonial luxury, Park Hyatt Saigon’s decor is never obtrusive. The hotel’s ivory colour scheme is tasteful and welcoming, and the huge crystal chandeliers in the Park Lounge are elegant as opposed to egotistic. Simply put, this is a hotel that knows what looks good and what doesn’t.
In our Park King room, classic furnishings lived in harmony with the latest technology: Bose bluetooth speakers, a mini iPad, and a Nespresso coffee maker. From an interior design standpoint, everything had been carefully thought about: from the bedroom’s plush carpet, to the the bathroom’s marble bath and walk-in rain shower. In fact, after walking into the room and seeing it for the first time, we both just stopped and smiled at each other. No more needed to be said, our faces said it all.
Situated around the rest of the hotel there are the type of quality facilities you would expect from a luxury brand. A good gym, equipped with decent weights and machines; an outdoor pool; and of course, a world-class spa that I will save writing about for a future post.
Breakfast to die for
I have always maintained that one of the best ways to judge the true quality of a five-star hotel is through its breakfast – not just in terms of food, but the overall experience and ambience. Seated by the glorious floor-to-ceiling windows of the conservatory area, we were able to enjoy the morning sunlight while choosing any number of things from the a-la-carte menu and insanely long breakfast bar.
Astounded by how much choice there was, I called over a waiter just to be sure: “I just want to double check we can order anything.” And indeed we could: everything from poached eggs with avocado, to waffles and ricotta pancakes; even classic Vietnamese dishes such as pho and banh mi. Behind the open kitchen, chefs dressed in gleaming whites carved giant hams, while waiting staff continually topped up a fruit station that included baby coconuts and jackfruit.
High rises and narrow alleyways
According to the Hyatt brand, Park Hyatt hotels only feature in cities considered premier destinations. And so it is clear to see why Ho Chi Minh City is included in its roster. The city is clearly evolving. Walk along the shores of the Saigon River and you will see new buildings springing up everywhere, testament to the economic growth of the country. Hanoi may be the capital, but the economic heart of Vietnam is most certainly HCMC.
Yet despite this growth, Saigon remains one of the most exciting cities to immerse yourself in SE Asia. Take a short ten-minute taxi ride to the outer Districts and you can instantly lose yourself in exciting neighbourhoods filled with narrow alleyways and curious locals. I have been in and out of Asia for 15 years now, but on this particular trip to HCMC I felt like a newbie – exhilarated by the sights and sounds of the city.
And so sums up my ideal way of travelling these days: exploring the city like a local during the day, and enjoying the comfort of an amazing hotel at night. I really enjoyed my third visit to HCMC, and my stay at the Park Hyatt had a great deal to do with it.
Follow in our footsteps:
Images and text © IKIMASHO! 2018. All views expressed here are my own.