In this review, we will stay at the Simon Riverside Hotel in Vang Vieng, Laos.
After an err… interesting bus ride from Vientiane, I finally arrived in the town of Vang Vieng after some five hours travel time. The Vang Vieng bus station, which is more of a gravel parking lot, is centrally located in the central part of town and is walking distance to most of the hotels, guesthouses and hostels.
For my two-night stay in Vang Vieng I had opted for the Simon Riverside Hotel, as it had generally good ratings and decently priced rooms. The biggest reason for opting for this hotel was however the great-looking swimming pool and awesome views. I’m a sucker for great hotel room views so the Simon Riverside seemed like a natural choice.
At check-in in the nondescript lobby I was immediately helped by the two young men sitting behind the desk, who were very warm and welcoming. After dealing with the formalities one of them escorted me to my room on the first floor at the far end of the corridor.
For a slight premium I had opted for a double room with mountain view, which has a balcony overlooking not only the fabulous karst mountains and limestone cliffs of Vang Vieng, but also the swimming pool and river which streams through town.
For the room I paid 40 USD per night, which included breakfast.
The double room itself was perfectly adequate. It consisted out of a large double bed as well as a smaller single bed. There was a small desk in the room, on which a flat screen TV and a kettle was placed. Underneath the desk was a small fridge.
Throughout the room there were plenty of power sockets. Despite the room being the furthest down the corridor WiFi reception was good. The housekeeping staff would clean the room each day and put new bags of tea and coffee on the desk, as well as some complimentary bottles of water.
The only drawback of the room is that it was all a bit bland and boring. It could definitely do with some decorations and more charm. That said, it was perfectly functional and had all amenities you can expect from a mid-range hotel.
The bathroom was large and consisted of a toilet, sink and shower. Although the bathroom was decent enough and perfectly clean, it had some drawbacks as well.
The shower head was ancient and pressure pretty poor. Taking a shower would also flood half of the bathroom floor. It could definitely do with a makeover, like adding a shower cabin and exchanging the shower head for a newer, better version.
It wasn’t exactly bad considering that Laotian standards are slightly different, but I felt that it was definitely something that could and should be improved.
Needless to say, the views from my room and the balcony were superb. On the balcony were some plastic chairs and a small table. It made for a good place to have a drink overlooking the swimming pool, river and surrounding mountains and it’s well worth paying the premium for.
Without a doubt, the pièce de résistance of the Simon Riverside Hotel is its lovely swimming pool.
The swimming pool itself was perfect, with the unheated water being at the exact right temperature for a swim to be refreshing and comfortable. During my two-day stay the pool area never had more than three or four other guests. There were always loungers available besides the pool and each time I took a swim, I was the only one in the water.
Needless to say, it made for some perfect R&R! Especially with an ice cold Beer Lao in your hand.
The grounds around the hotel are also nicely appointed. Around the pool is a nice grass area with some flower beds overlooking the river.
There are some tables and benches here which are perfect for a drink or bite, or to sit down to read a book or get some work done on your laptop weather permitting.
The pool area and the balcony are also perfectly located to admire the sunset. It is highly recommended to make sure you time at least one of your days in Vang Vieng to coincide with a late afternoon swim to see the sunset.
Each morning, breakfast is served in the annex opposite the main hotel building, located at the other side of the swimming pool. The breakfast room itself looked more like a high school canteen or a dining hall in a communist-era Russian hotel. You can however also sit outside in the garden at one of the stone tables overlooking the pool and river, which is a much better choice.
Unfortunately, breakfast was a lackluster affair. Although the coffee was decent and the fresh fruit appreciated, that was about the only positive thing to be said.
Breakfast offerings were rather limited, and mainly consisted of make-your-own salad, some bread, packaged jam, eggs, cheap quality sausages and rather dry rice. On my second day a large kettle with a noodle soup resembling Vietnamese Pho was available as well – although it was also average at best.
About the service in the hotel I have nothing but good things to say. The hotel staff was courteous, welcoming and immensely warm, always greeting you with a smile upon arriving and asking if everything was fine.
When on the second day I wanted to buy a poolside beer, one employee said that unfortunately they just closed the hotel kitchen and that nobody around had the keys to it. Instead the hotel employees offered to quickly hop on their motorbike to drive to the nearest shop and get a cold beer for me while I could just stay at the pool.
Within five minutes they were back with a cold beer. Talk about great service!
Also when it came to booking a bus ticket for the morning minibus to Luang Prabant the hotel staff was extremely helpful and knowledgeable.
The Simon Riverside Hotel was a perfectly fine choice – and I can recommend it to others with a few caveats. On the plus side, the rooms are big, comfortable and clean. If you make sure to get a mountain view room you will have a balcony with some sweeping views over the pool and surrounding mountains of Vang Vieng.
The staff at the Simon Riverside Hotel are extremely welcoming and warm and will make sure that everything is according to wish and help you with any request when it comes to local sightseeing or transport.
Best of all is of course the pool area, which is beautifully located in a garden with grand views over the Nam Song river and limestone cliffs.
There are certainly some aspects where the hotel can improve. The bathroom could do with a renovation, the room and indoor public areas of the hotel are a bit boring and sterile, and the breakfast buffet is mediocre at best.
That said, lazing at the pool and drinking a beer while watching the sunset was an unforgettable travel memory and one of the best experiences on this trip. That alone makes the Simon Riverside Hotel stand out in Vang Vieng and is enough for me to give the hotel a full thumbs up.
Trip report index
This article is part of the ‘Lazing in Laos and Gallivanting a Wee Bit Around Asia‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:
1. Review: Aegean Airlines Business Class Bucharest to Athens (Airbus A320)
2. Review: Goldair Handling Lounge (Non-Schengen) Athens Airport
3. Review: Saudia Business Class Athens to Jeddah (Airbus A320)
4. Review: Saudia Alfursan Lounge Jeddah Airport South Terminal
5. Review: Review: Saudia Business Class Jeddah to Kuala Lumpur (Boeing 787)
6. Review: CitizenM Hotel Kuala Lumpur Bukit Bintang
7. Kuala Lumpur in One Day: What to See and Do in 24 Hours
8. A Batu Caves Half Day Trip From Kuala Lumpur By Public Transport
9. Review: Plaza Premium Lounge Private Resting Suite Gateway KLIA2
10. Review: Air Asia Kuala Lumpur to Vientiane (Airbus A320)
11. Review: Hotel Khamvongsa, Vientiane, Laos
12. Destination Trip Report: A Day in Vientiane, Laos
13. Guide: Domestic Bus Travel in Laos and How to Book a Ticket
14. Review: Simon Riverside Hotel, Vang Vieng, Laos (current chapter)
15. Trip Report: Vang Vieng – Worth a Stop on Your Laos Itinerary?
16. Review: Villa Ban Phanluang, Luang Prabang, Laos
17. Luang Prabang: The Stunning Pearl of Indochina
18. Guide: Luang Prabang Morning, Food and Night Markets
19. Kuang Si Falls: A Gorgeous Luang Prabang Day Trip
20. Review: Thai Smile Economy Class Luang Prabang to Bangkok (Airbus A320)
21. Review: Ibis Styles Bangkok Sukhumvit 4
22. Review: Air France/KLM Business Lounge Bangkok Airport
23. Review: Garuda Indonesia Business Class Bangkok to Jakarta (Boeing 737-800)
24. Review: Sapphire Plaza Premium Lounge Terminal 3 Jakarta Airport
25. Review: Garuda Business Lounge Terminal 3 Jakarta Airport
26. Review: Review: Japan Airlines Business Class Jakarta to Tokyo Narita (Boeing 787-8)
27. Review: Capsule Hotel Transit Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
28. Tokyo Stopover: What to See and Do in the Capital of Japan for a Day
29. Review: ANA Business Lounge Tokyo Narita Airport
30. Review: United Club Tokyo Narita Airport
31. Review: Turkish Airlines Economy Class Tokyo Narita to Istanbul (Boeing 777)
32. Review: Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles Lounge Istanbul Airport
33. Review: Turkish Airlines Economy Class Istanbul to Bucharest (Airbus A330)