Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon? Are you politically correct for using the former, or an archaic colonialist for using the latter? Most residents use the names interchangeably, but what’s for sure is that very little of what used to be Saigon was left at the end of the Vietnam War, and in the past 40 years the city has been redeveloped beyond recognition. This poses interesting questions for urban planners and gives hoteliers a blank canvas on which to make their mark.
Ho Chi Minh City plays host to an array of hotel designs, some interesting, some quite frankly dull, but the Park Hyatt Saigon decided to make a name for itself as the new grand dame and, in the absence of any competition, it really is the leader in the field. It has done a superlative job not just architecturally but also in terms of its service, food, facilities and ambiance.
Loosely based on the outline of the Brinks Hotel that previously occupied the site, the Park Hyatt Saigon masterfully bridges the gap between contemporary and traditional colonial and, since it is built from scratch, it is not held back by the pesky design faults of an older building.
The hotel hosts an equal number of corporate and leisure guests and does so with the utmost elegance and panache. The buzzy atmosphere makes any visitor feel more like an honorary resident, and the convivial mood created by those on holiday makes the place feel relaxed and carefree.
But it is really the location of the Park Hyatt Saigon, slap bang in the middle of the city, with access to great restaurants, shopping and sightseeing, that makes this a great hotel with the mindset of a boutique property. The service levels, the attention to detail, the beautifully conceived dining and living spaces and the nothing-is-too-much-trouble attitude really make a stay here of any length a pure pleasure and, surprisingly for a big hotel, almost like home.
- Daily breakfast for two
- To be taken in Opera restaurant
- Room upgrade upon arrival
- Subject to availability
- Hotel credit
- US$100 or equivalent to be used during your stay
- Early check-in / Late check-out
- Subject to availability
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
Exclusive benefits may vary by hotel or hotel group. Exclusive benefits apply when booking the Best Available Rate and are not combinable with any hotel offers or special packages unless stated.
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- Facts & Amenities +
The lobby area is huge and high-ceilinged with a convivial atmosphere as guests take tea and cocktails. It’s not technically the check-in area but it’s one of the first things you see as you enter the hotel, and it leaves a very uplifting impression. I was greeted at check-in not only by the smiling front-office staff but also the delightful sales manager. It was a brief check-in before this manager escorted me all the way to my room to highlight the fixtures and features.
Rooms and suites
My room was cosy and beautifully designed, with the bed as its main focus. The mini bar was housed in an elegant corner unit and the windows looked out onto the pool, but there are a variety of garden, pool and city views available, too. Shutters were a nice touch, not just to continue the colonial theme but also to provide complete darkness at night. The wardrobe, in the entrance hallway, could be opened both from the bedroom and the bathroom.
The lighting was simple but effective, atmospheric but practical, and the generous desk offered an iPad with the hotel menus and directories.
Everything was on one level for those with accessibility concerns. However, wheelchair-users might like to request a larger room for a little more space.
This was a compact space and I think the micro bathtub could probably have been sacrificed for a larger shower. The toiletries were made by Cochine, a local brand, and weighed in at 50ml each. Sadly, the hairdryer was pathetic and particularly disappointing given the recent renovations, but on the plus side there was every conceivable amenity and excellent lighting for applying make-up and shaving. A magnifying mirror was also provided.
Hands up those who have ordered vitello tonnato from room service in Saigon. Anyone? Thought not. I’ll admit it is not the first thing that springs to mind in Asia but there it was on the menu and I felt a craving. It was simply divine and really set the tone for the Park Hyatt Saigon’s superb cuisine, both regional and international.
The Park Lounge in the lobby is a great place for afternoon tea, which is superb, and, as it’s next to the entrance lobby you get a real feel for the buzz of the hotel.
The multi-cuisine, all-day-dining Opera is where the enormous but beautifully presented breakfast is served, and quite a breakfast it is. Like everything else in this hotel, it is well rehearsed and guests can take hours over their breakfast. Business travellers with limited time are served their superb fresh coffee efficiently and without fuss. It’s a great time to soak up the hotel’s atmosphere and do some serious people- watching.
Take time in the early evening to visit the 2 Lam Son martini bar. It has a slick and contemporary design and attracts a mixed crowd of expats and locals, young and more mature. For such an unashamedly trendy place, it has a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere and the bar staff are incredibly knowledgeable. It’s the ideal stop before enjoying the Park Hyatt’s French-Vietnamese fusion fine dining.
Other restaurant options
Just over the road from the hotel is a small courtyard with a few restaurants and bars, some of which play live music at weekends. If you don’t fancy straying too far but want a change of scenery, it’s the perfect place for a night out.
Spa and wellness
The spa at the Park Hyatt Saigon is a rather typical city spa: small but perfectly formed with four treatment rooms and a fitness centre. The area is elegantly decorated in a French colonial style and the rooms are compact, although they are more cosy than cramped. Advance booking is essential since the spa is also open to outside guests. Wraps, facials and massages take inspiration from local traditions and essential oils.
The gym is almost 2,000 feet square and kitted out with ultra-modern Life Fitness equipment, both cardio and weights. Personal training sessions are offered but there are no regular group classes.
Pool and beach
On the third floor there’s a large, very pretty, semi-circular pool with loungers and pool service. As many guests are either sightseeing or conducting business in the city, the pool is often quiet, so the otherwise limited area really feels rather spacious and gets a healthy dose of sunshine throughout the day. The landscaping also features a few shaded tables, perfect for long, alfresco lunches.
The hotel doesn’t offer a kids’ club but the staff are all child-friendly and there are plenty of interconnecting rooms and family suites. The pool area is lively enough so you don’t have to worry about boisterous kids. The concierge is well versed in suggesting family-friendly diversions, and if you want a night off, babysitting services are offered.
Staff and service
It’s the service that makes this excellent hotel truly world-class. The attention to detail, the sheer competency of every member of staff and the creative approaches to problem-solving really demonstrate excellent management and training. I had items of clothing pressed within a matter of minutes and perfect execution of my fiddly food orders. Gold stars all round.
This world-class hotel attracts all sort of guests. Just look around at breakfast or at check-in and you will see visitors in Saigon on business, on holiday, well-heeled ladies here for a weekend of culture and shopping, well-behaved families finishing or starting a tour of Vietnam, groups of friends here for the golf. The Park Hyatt Saigon has such a convivial atmosphere that everyone is made to feel completely welcome.
Check-out was painless in spite of a rush at the lobby as the unflustered staff calmly worked through the small queue. My luggage had been retrieved and was waiting for me by the pre-hailed cab. It was all seamless.
How to get here
30 minutes by road from Ho Chi Minh Tan Son Nhat International Airport
245 rooms and suites