Legend has it that Buddha visited Luang Prabang during his travels, predicting it would become a rich and prosperous city. Some would argue his prophesy has come true for this charming township in northern Laos
With its charming timber houses and colonial architecture, the Unesco World Heritage site that is Luang Prabang has emerged as one of southeast Asia’s most unique tourist destinations, giving rise to the opening of many new hotels and resorts in the area. Few, however, rival the Hotel De La Paix.
Boasting a rich past steeped in local heritage and mystery, the Hotel De La Paix has been a governor’s mansion, a garrison and a jail during its 100-year existence. Today, the structure has been transformed into a luxurious boutique hotel by maverick Thai architect and visionary designer Duangrit Bunnag, with support from locally-based French-Canadian architect Pascal Trahan.
Seamlessly combining French colonial and traditional Laotian architecture with contemporary elegance and style, Duangrit explains, that the aim was for guests to learn about the hotel’s history, and also to explore the story themselves and enjoy it as something new. Thus, he tried to bring an authentic flavour of the city into the hotel with a modern twist that is in keeping with its past. “An old city with modern comforts, if you like,” he says. “I always like to think of the hotel as a Luang Prabang woman. She is very gentle, but also very modern. She wears Laotian clothes, but speaks a global language, telling the story of the city in the way a friend would tell it.”