I'm super excited to share this review, and the hotel associated with it, thanks to a combination of its storied history and inspiring owner. You may or may not know that, like many industries, the upper echelon of hotel ownership and management is dominated by white men. So it made me happy, as an aspiring/wannabe hotelier, to see that one of Luang Prabrang’s most famous hotels, Satri House, is owned by a Lao woman with impeccable taste and a vision for hospitality. The name “Satri House” even translates to “House of Women”, a hint towards the elegance and sophistication you’ll find there.
I actually happened to have a chance encounter with the owner, Lamphoune Voravongsa, in the elevator of Satri House’s newly opened sister hotel, the Lao Poet Hotel in Vientiane. Mrs. Voravongsa looked every bit like a sophisticated hotelier in oversized sunglasses and a polished dress, but she was warm and friendly when directing us to the lobby. It’s inspiring to see her empire expanding with the launch of her second hotel, which I’ll tell you all about at a later date.
But back to Satri House. The original building that houses the hotel was built at the turn of the 20th century and was home to Prince Souphanouvong, also known as the “Red Prince”, a revolutionary who would later become the first president of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (he’s a fascinating person himself but for the sake of not getting sidetracked, I’ll just suggest you google for more information). Lamphoune, who had been exiled to France when she was young, returned to Laos thirty years later to open up a traditional art, textiles, and antiques shop. After opening a few more shops in Luang Prabang she decided to purchase the original Satri House building, restore the estate, and run it as a hotel. The rest is history.
Which brings us to the present. Upon arriving at the airport in Luang Prabang we got in the taxi line. The taxi service here was quite centralized, similar to New York City with a queue and set prices. Luckily since Satri House is so popular the drivers and taxi stand attendants were all familiar with it. We were assigned to a van with some other tourists who were going to be dropped off at other hotels along the way. Within twenty minutes we pulled up in front of Satri House’s discreet bamboo-lined entrance.
The bamboo-lined entrance to Satri House.
Satri House doesn’t really have a traditional hotel lobby, but rather a waiting room that’s styled more like a cozy lounge or library with red walls, a dramatic fireplace, and local whiskey available to taste at any time. They also offered us a welcome drink while we waited to be checked in, with options including both cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks. I opted for some kind of Campari cocktail which was actually quite strong, and then we were taken to our room.
Complimentary welcome drinks and local whiskey tasting set.
I booked a deluxe room, the most affordable option at the hotel. Even at the lowest tier the room seemed plenty spacious for two and included a backyard patio. A four poster bed anchors the room, which is decorated with an array of art from different cultures: Ganesh statues, Chinese banners, and seemingly aboriginal accents are a few examples in the hotel's collection.
Four-poster bed with mosquito net and complimentary fruit basket.
The room also includes complimentary fruit, a generous storage bench, full-length mirror, and a functional desk which we used quite a bit while working on #inktober during our trip. Both sides of the room also featured door-windows (dwindows?) that can be opened up for an extra breeze, or to access the garden.
Interior courtyard, backyard patio, and bathroom entrance.
The bathroom is split up into separate rooms located on either side of the bed. The toilet is in its own little room on the left, along with a spacious closet.
Cute little sink area to the right of the bed.
On the right side of the bed is the sink and shower, which is covered in a pretty forest green tile and also features a short bench. It’s quite spacious, although due to both the dark color of the tiles and dim lighting, it did feel a little too dark in there.
Above: toilet room. Below: shower faucet, bench, and provided toiletries.
One clever little detail I liked is that they roll a sheet of banana leaf into a cone to be used as a cover for your bar soap when it’s not in use.
The grounds are where Satri House really shines. The hotel is laid out like an estate with a bunch of different zones and areas to discover. There are several ponds, the largest of which is overlooked by the hotel restaurant and has lotus flowers which bloom in the night and early morning. There a few more ponds running under small bridges, green patches of grass for sun-tanning, a small bungalow for a foot massage, two gorgeous emerald pools, and a bar.
Narrow and wide pools, plus one of the estate's original buildings.
Shrines, sun-lit corridors, curious corners can be found all over the hotel grounds.
Okay, I know I just said “the grounds are where Satri House really shines” but I take it back because actually… it might be the food. Specifically the pain au chocolat, which you can have as many of as you want gratis during breakfast hours, and come piping hot out of the oven. They’re served with homemade spreads and are so good and put the dinky little pain au chocolat I used to buy at Paris Baguette to shame. The actual food is really good too. It’s a made-to-order menu so everything is fresh and there are a lot of Lao dishes as well as western ones. My favorite was probably this egg-y crepe with northern sausage and seasonings.
Crepe, sausage, soup, and noodles are all part of the decadent breakfast options at Satri House.
The service at a place like Satri House is top-tier as expected. Everyone we interacted with was exceptionally kind and friendly. I think the only room for improvement is that when it comes to booking excursions around Luang Prabang, not all of the front desk staff have the same amount of knowledge. The day we arrived we asked what our options were to get to the Pak Ou caves and were given two choices, but when we talked to someone else the next day there was a third option no one had mentioned before. It wasn’t a super huge deal but no one seemed super confident in making any recommendations for that trip, unlike for Kuang Si falls. It may be that Pak Ou is just a lot less popular, but it’s something to keep in mind when trying to organize an excursion. You may need to ask more than once to get all your options. Luckily the option we ended up choosing included lunch on the boat and it was surprisingly one of our best meals in Laos, which is rare for a tour-provided lunch!
Lotus pond and inner courtyard.
Another thing to note is that the internet service at Satri House was quite weak and on/off from our room. It wasn’t the end of the world since we were there to relax and not to work, but for a remote or business traveller, it may be something to consider.
The immediate area around Satri House is quiet but filled with a variety of good restaurants. It’s also walking distance to the main walking street and Mount Phou Si (assuming you are able and willing to walk around ten to fifteen minutes). Right behind Satri House is an amazing, extremely romantic and atmospheric high-end restaurant called Manda de Laos. Definitely go at night, when the lotus flowers are in bloom. On the other end of the spectrum, just a few blocks away is a place called Joy’s Restaurant. It’s Lao home-cooking, and the restaurant is located on the ground floor of the family home. Joy’s has curated set-meals which include a few dishes and a dessert. It’s not only a good value but also makes ordering very easy.
Views from Mount Phou Si and the temple Haw Pha Bang.
I wouldn’t consider Satri House very accessible. Since it is an old property, there are many short stairs and narrow brick passageways linking the different parts of the estate together. There may be some ground floor units at the hotel but I imagine getting around might still be a hassle for wheelchair users.
Exterior view of first and second floor units.
Pathway underneath a bridge, bordered by two small ponds.
There are cheaper places to stay in Luang Prabang, but for me Satri House with its history and heritage feels so quintessential to the area. I also used my credit card points to pay for my half of the hotel stay (if you use Chase, Satri House is on their rewards platform). If you like the idea of staying in a historic hotel but also want a little glamour and good food, then I highly recommend Satri House. If not Satri House then my very close second choice for Luang Prabang would’ve been the Burasari Heritage which is owned and operated by a Thai woman.
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