The plane taking us to Luang Prabang arrived at Siem Reap very late so we landed at Laung Prabang after dark. On the flip side, the arrivals hall was nearly empty so it look us less than 10 minutes to have our visas processed. The hotel offers a service to help but we figured since we were flying business and would be let off the plane first we could beat the rush and not pay a fee for expedited service.
The process was relatively straightforward as you filled out an application when you arrive, handed over your passport, and paid the processing fee (I brought the exact amount of cash needed). After a few minutes, we were on our way and greeted at baggage claim by an Amantaka driver.
It was an easy drive to Amantaka, and I always appreciate Aman provides cold towels, snacks, water and even local beer for the journey. It’s the little Aman touches that add up to a very relaxing experience.
Amantaka check in
We were greeted by the assistant GM upon arrival and since our fight was delayed we asked if we could eat dinner before checking in. Of course, it was no problem. They offered a variety of food including local Loation dishes as well as international dishes. After our second day we noticed the menu really didn’t really change and it started to feel limiting – more so than some other Aman resorts.
Mekong pool suite
We requested room 17 because of Mr. and Mrs Smith’s recommendation and were given that suite at check in. It was a spacious suite with a large separate living room, master bedroom with four poster bed, huge closets and long narrow bathroom. Outside there was a private pool, mango tree and patio with a table and chairs. The pool was nice but didn’t have any views. The main pool is beautiful, so I wouldn’t recommend a pool suite here.
After what a chaotic stay in Siem Reap, we really enjoyed the slow pace of Luang Prabang. Everything was walkable from the resort, which I loved. The resort will also drop you off and pick you up via tuktuk from anywhere in town. We went to the morning market and it was a sight to see! This is not your typical California farmer’s market… there were a lot of animals, insects (both alive and dead) and some really interesting fruit.
We walked along the Mekong River and over a bridge made entirely of bamboo! We checked out the french bakeries and had lunch at Elephant Restaurant, which was a delicious French-Loation spot.
The temples require you to wear long pants and coverage, which we weren’t wearing most days, so we admired them from the sidewalk. My absolutely favorite experience was taking part in the morning offering to the monks. Every morning before the sun rises, the monks walk through town to collect offerings and gifts from the townspeople. Amantaka provides guests with rice to give each monk a golf-ball sized scoop for their bin. This was one of the most authentic and unique hotel experiences I ever had – definitely worth the early wake up call.
We loved the excursions available at Amantaka and one of them was a visit to an elephant sanctuary. When I checked the schedule of the elephant sanctuary it said all the tours were sold out during our stay but of course, when I asked Aman about getting a tour they were able to secure a private tour of the sanctuary and walk with the elephants! This is part of the Aman service that speaks volumes to the relationships they build within the communities they have hotels and the “no request is too large” mentality. I really cherished our excursion, all thanks to the Aman team.
On our final night we took a sunset cruise along the Mekong, which was spectacular. Jason typically gets seasick so we avoid boats but the water was so calm he didn’t have any issues. They asked us earlier in the day what drinks we’d like stocked on the boat and had fresh canapés for us as well.
I loved the spa at Amantaka. It was simple but luxe and if you phone them ahead of time they will reservce the facilities just for you. We enjoyed the double jacuzzi, relaxation area, steam and sauna rooms.
Aman service, although in a category all of their own, can vary from property from property. A hallmark of Aman service is that you should never have to give the staff your room number or sign a bill until you check out. But that wasn’t the case for us at Amantaka. At almost every meal we were asked for our room number, which was disappointing. It’s minor, and I think my service expectations have gotten higher at Aman properties, but it didn’t feel aligned to what I’ve come to expect as Aman’s minimum bar of service.
On the other hand, I know we would not have been able to get into the elephant sanctuary without Aman’s connections. That excursion was the highlight of our trip and the staff made it happen.
I love staying at hotels with a history and was fascinated by the fact that Amantaka used to be a French colonial hospital. The deign was thoughtful, the rooms were spacious and the service was good. That being said, Amantaka was about 3x as some other luxury hotels nearby, and I don’t know if that’s justifiable. If we stay here again, I wouldn’t book a pool suite since the pool faces courtyard a courtyard wall and the main pool is gorgeous. The founder of Aman actually created another hotel right next door, Avanti, so I’d be curious to compare.