Traditional Lao Massages in an Old French Officer's Quarters

When You're Not Sunset Cruising on the Mekong

By Eric Twardzik ·

It's like we always say:

A former French officer's quarters is a terrible thing to waste.

Especially when you can add a swimming pool and a cocktail bar on a wraparound veranda to it.

No, really. We always say that.

And they got the idea right at AVANI + Luang Prabang, a new 53-room boutique retreat now awaiting you, smack in the middle of Laos's old royal capital.

Of course, the entire city of Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage site you can "ooh" and "ahh" over while strolling or biking through its streets. It must have something to do with all the famous temples, stirring Mekong River bends and historic properties hanging around, like these impressive, villa-like troops quarters from the French colonial period that you'll be sleeping in.

You'll rest your UNESCO site-weary feet in a big open room absolutely shellacked in teakwood (just check out these photos). With French louvered doors opening to your terrace or a private balcony overlooking the garden or pool. Honestly, you'll be fine with either.

Then forget about your tough work week/unexpected FBI office visit with a few laps in the pool or massage at the spa. And if that sounds a little too immobile, someone here will be glad to book you on a river cruise through the Buddha-lined caves of Pak Ou. Or on a sunset cruise between jungle-shrouded mountains on the Mekong.

Or if you'd like to give alms to the traditional morning procession of monks, they'll provide you with a food offering and a demonstration of the ritual.

Though you'll always wonder how Mentos would have gone over.

Eric Twardzik

Eric Twardzik is often misidentified as a Dane. Embroidered pants and green Chartreuse are the two things that get him out of bed every morning.

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