“ Smart accommodation in Si Phan Don, Laos. „
La Folie Hotel, 4000 Islands ( Si Phan Don) Laos
WHY THIS HOTEL?
This was our last hotel in Laos and was designed to be a bit of a chill after all the rushing around we had done in Laos up till then and to prepare us for the next part of our holiday in Borneo.
The hotel is on a small island , Don Daeng in the Mekong river in the Champasak area of Southern Laos. It is an idyllic relaxing escape from all the hustle and bustle of life generally.
GETTING TO THE HOTEL
In order to get onto the island we had to climb down a steep set of 'steps' on a river bank and through a larger river boat with cabins that cruise up the Mekong and then onto our boat. This was hilarious. It was like a wooden raft built onto two of the local rowing boats. An outboard motor was attached at the back and a simple 'fence 'was built around the square raft. We sat on plastic chairs on this raft and chugged across the river looking like lord and lady Muck. Our bags were on the raft behind us just on the boards.
When we arrived on the island we stepped off our raft boat onto a bamboo 'road' and climbed into a small trailer behind a 'Chinese Buffalo' which is what the locals call their mini tractors which look like ride in mowers but with a very long steering shaft. We were then driven in this trailer up the split bamboo 'road' over the wide expanse of sand up to the gates of the hotel.
Alighting from our elegant vehicle we walked through the gates and we welcomed with a cold drink and taken up into the main building to check in. We were given a refreshing and cool welcome drink while we completed the necessary forms. This main building was open sided with palm leaf roof and big fans in the ceiling. This was where the bar and restaurant was, the computer with VERY slow internet via a dongle, the lounge with library and this building had entrances in the front onto the beach where we arrived and also out to the back onto a dirt road which led to the local villages.
In front of this building was one of the most beautiful pools I have see, surrounded by palm trees and tropical flowers as well as umbrellas and sunbeds with a view onto the beach and the Mighty Mekong River which was wide and languid in this area.
We had to walk past this pool and through the lovely gardens in order to reach our room which was a small wooden bungalow. It is not a huge resort as there are only 25 of these bungalows and one two bedroom residence complete with a house keeper and gardener. All the rooms have a view of the Mekong River and the huge white sandy beach from their front balconies.
Our room was on stilts and so we had to walk up about six wooden steps to get to the door which opened with a normal large key. Inside the room was a decent size with polished wooden floors and wooden walls. The furniture was all solid wood too and locally made. The impression was one of luxury but in a very local traditional look. On the floor was a local rug with was very nice but did slip around a bit if you were not careful when walking around the room.
The bed was a big king or queen sized bed made up with fresh cotton white sheets and dressed with two Laos local silk scarves across the bed. The pillows were a little on the hard side but I did manage to sleep with them. At the end of the bed were two wooden slatted case stands or table like things to put stuff on. On either side of the bed there was a light but only one side had a bedside table.
On the wooden walls were several pictures, some of old photographs and some paintings but all very tasteful and classy. In one corner was an air-conditioning unit, two comfortable chairs and a small round coffee table. There was also a ceiling fan so you could choose which you wanted to use.
On the wall with the air-conditioning unit was a double door with shutters leading on to a small balcony. We did enjoy sitting on here and watching the local herdsman with his cows walking down to the river to graze and have a drink. From here we could also see Champasak across the river and the hill below which was the magnificent Wat Phou temple.
There were windows on three sides of the room and they all had cream heavy linen curtains which gave privacy bit didn't darken the room.
Once again this was wooden floored and traditional looking. The shower was good but only had a curtain around it so it was quite hard to keep the water in the shower tray. A trolley held the toiletries and towels while a huge bamboo rack on the wall was great for drying the towels. The basin and toilet were normal and not anything unusual. The toilet roll was ona bamboo rack as well which was quite novel.
The toiletries provided were all in china dishes which avoided the use of plastic mini bottles. This saved waste and also was more economical. The toiletries used were also environmentally friendly so they were trying hard to avoid un eco behaviour.
There are no laundry services at the hotel but they have an arrangement with the local village and you can send your laundry which is weighed and then I think it was about 10kg for about £5 but I really can't remember. You paid extra if you wanted it ironed but we didn't need anything ironed. They can back the next day smelling really nice and fresh. I was very happy about this as I felt we were helping the local economy and the money went directly to the person doing the washing, the hotel took no cut at all.
This was impossible on your own laptop and almost impossible on their computer with only had a satellite connection which was as good as a dongle. I gave up after ten minutes of trying.
We were not sure if the books there were a library or a book exchange but we left more than we took so didn't feel too bad. There were books in French, German and English and I thought this was an idea that all hotels and resorts should take up.
This was really lovely with full grown trees and so many different tropical flowers. We spent a good hour one morning walking around the gardens taking photos of the beautiful flowers in the garden.
WE opted for snack type food at lunch time as we were not exactly doing a lot. We had a soup and spring rolls I think on both days and enjoyed iced lemon tea. There was often quite a few in the restaurant at lunch time as people came to the hotel and island just for the day and to use the pool as this was the only pool in the area apparently. Lunch and dinner were not included in our tariff but breakfast was.
We opted each night for the set meal as it was by far the best value. There was an a la carte menu but if you ordered from that it was much more expensive. The set menu did change daily and was a selection of local Laos dishes. Both meals were really tasty and nicely prepared but as this was towards the end of our stay in Laos we were beginning to get just a little tired of the same four of five dishes. Drinks were reasonable prices and we stuck to Beer Lao and I sampled their cocktails, one a night was quite enough!
This was pretty basic. Fruit juice and coffee or tea as well as fresh fruit followed by the inevitable French bread and jam or eggs whichever way you wanted them cooked. I don't eat eggs so it was fruit and fresh French bread with local jam for me once again but it was enough really and more than I usually have at home.
This was beautiful; rectangular and bright, bright blue with a backdrop of the beach and the river. Around the pool were palm trees and other tropical flowers and at night the reflections of the lights looked just amazing. There were changing rooms for those day guests but I confess I didn't inspect these.
RECOMMENDED FOR A RELAXING STAY?
This was a really very relaxing and laid back place to stay. It wasn't luxurious in the way that the Rasa Ria in Kinabalu was but it was pretty special. The staff were lovely, so genuinely helpful and went out of their way to do anything they could to help. The room was very comfortable in a traditional colonial sort of way and the food was all locally sourced and Laos food. There was no option for cordon blue sort of food but that was part of the charm of this place. It was extremely comfortable and very charming and totally in keeping with the setting.
If you want somewhere to stay and just chill but be cut off from all modern technology then this place is perfect. They do have wifi but I wouldn't bother trying to use it as you will lose the will to live as a snail would get across the river quicker.
We had a really lovely three days here and loved the quaint way we arrived on the raft boat and the tractor ride up to the hotel. Everything was just so different and a perfectly wonderful experience.
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