My favorite moment of any holiday is the instant that my toes first touch the sand. They may have been cooped up in boots for a whole winter, but as soon as those so-white-they-almost-look-green-feet touch the sand, I have arrived. Pass the suntan cream and the floppy hat, it’s time to get greasy, sweaty sun-kissed finger prints over whichever paperback I choose to devour; it is beach time!
I love that first day on the beach, when you can’t stop wriggling your toes in the sand (as if to say ‘I’m here, it’s real, I have arrived, I deserve this, whoop, whoop!’). But the end of the day I’m a sandy, sweaty mess. Unfortunately I’m yet to pull off the sexy ‘beach look’ – by the time the sun goes down, my salty hair is so knotted I’m not sure any conditioner can take it on, and I resemble more of a sand monster than anything from a Baywatch scene.
So, my second favorite moment of any holiday, after spooning water over my feet from a coconut spoon (this is very much a southeast Asia hotel thing I think), is when I pad across a luxurious wooden hotel floor and throw my sandy, salty body under a powerful rain shower. Yes, there is no better way to end your first day of sun-worshipping than with a luxury beach hotel in Vietnam. For me this is the only way to complete a few indulgent days on the coast and Vietnam is tremendous value for money, which means a luxury beach hotel can cost the same price as a Premier Inn in London and I know what I would prefer!
So without further ado, allow me to present to you my top 10 luxury beach hotels in Vietnam
– and I’ve got it all covered; from the center to the south and the best of the islands off the mainland.
1. Princess D’An Nam, near Mui Ne
I need to make a bit of a confession about this one: when I stayed at this gorgeous, isolated luxury resort last year, I turned up on a decrepit old, spluttering motorbike that looked like it had been pulled out of a junk yard. My boyfriend was driving, I was on the back with a scruffy rucksack strapped to my back, and the lovely valet boy just gave us an extra big grin, took the keys from us and promised he would take ‘extra care’ with this one. I think he even gave us a wink. What a dude!
Princess D’An Nam is the most luxurious hotel in the Mui Ne area – it’s about 40km from the beach town resort of Mui Ne, on a gorgeous isolated stretch of beach surrounded by little Vietnamese villages. It is perfect for those who want to get away from it all and enjoy a private beach without the hassle of any hawkers. This top notch 5* resorts offers beautiful villas – many of which have private pools and you can opt for a one, two or three-bed villa – making it a great option for groups of friends or families that are after some luxury, as well as honeymooners and couples. Designed by award-winning architect Tan Hock Beng, the resort style mixes modernist sensibility and post colonial ambience.
2. An Lam Ninh Van Bay, near Nha Trang
This isn’t quite a private island but it certainly feels like one. When you board your boat from the busy beach town of Nha Trang and head across the bay to a little peninsular that sticks out, you leave behind one world and you enter another. Welcome to the hidden paradise that is An Lam Ninh Van Bay.
An Lam Ninh Van Bay is one of the most luxurious hotels near Nha Trang and it oozes bare foot luxury. Huge open-plan villas with private pools that open out to the jungle, lagoon and ocean beyond are the name of the game here. These beautifully furnished villas feel like an extension of nature itself and we adore the finishing touches that make it completely unique – like the huge wooden swings that hang from thick ropes in the bathroom. The crescent-shaped beach and backdrop of luscious green mountains is your welcome to the resort as you make your approach from the water – the villas, which are tucked into the jungle-like foliage, are completely camouflaged. Oh, and you’ll see some floating sunbeds in the water on a small wooden platform supported by buoys.
3. Mia Resort, Nha Trang
The Mia Resort in Nha Trang probably offers the most affordable luxury in Vietnam.It is a short drive from the busy town of Nha Trang itself and occupies a gorgeous private and pristine cove and has a very funky atmosphere… almost like something you would find in Ibiza. Sexy, funky and chilled.
Mia is more than just a beachside resort. It has a vibe that will transform your Vietnam experience – from the beautiful natural decor of its villas to the fabulous lantern-lit cocktail bar on the cliffside; it is a very special place. There are three different types of accommodation on offer, all of which are decked out in beautiful natural woods and colours that manage to feel like an extension of the ocean surroundings. The entry level rooms are the Garden and Ocean Condos but it is well worth splashing out on a villa, which offer even more privacy, space and luxury. I love the finishing touches in the villas – like the huge stone mosaic wall made from the large stones from the ocean.
4. Amanoi, near Nha Trang
Okay, so this entry is to be expected – the Aman resorts are internationally renowned for high-end superb luxury and their Vietnam property is no different. I’ve met people that will only stay in Aman resorts and I’m sure you would see their logic after a night or two here.
This hotel is not just super sexy but it’s in the most incredible location. Overlooking the beautiful white-sand beach of Vinh Hy Bay, Amanoi is perched on the side of Nui Chua National Park – it is one of the few places in Vietnam that offers stunning beaches with a undeveloped, striking backdrop. Amanoi has 31 guest pavilions – a number with private swimming pools, as well as five larger Aman Villas, all positioned on the hillside with impressive views. The design of the Pavilions and Aman Villas fuses contemporary elegance with traditional Vietnamese architectural styles. Views are either of Nui Chua National Park, the lake on the property, or Vinh Hy Bay and the East Sea.
5. The InterContinental Sun Peninsula Resort, Da Nang
This is a hotel like no other in Vietnam… seriously. This is something else. Want to eat in an upside down conical hat hanging off the edge of a cliffside hotel? Want to raid the sweety (or candy) jar besides the pool? Want to just play on the giant adult size swing for an hour or two? It’s all here and more. The InterContinental is utterly fabulous!
The creative design of this hotel, inspired by Vietnamese traditions and culture, is nothing short of stunning. Coupled with a divine location, spread over a peninsula head on one of Vietnam’s finest coastal stretches, you will find it hard to ever leave. It may bear the name of a large chain, but that is where any corporate identity ends. There are six types of rooms to choose from. All are wonderfully creative and play with the shapes of local forms such as the geometric silhouette of paper lanterns and the wood-spindled windows of traditional temples and aristocratic residences, while having the latest mod-cons. The Classic Rooms are incredibly spacious and – unlike many hotels – no expense has been spared with these entry-level rooms, which have sea-facing large balconies with oversized rattan chairs and bathrooms with a separate bathtub, rainforest shower, double vanity sinks and luxurious bath amenities. It just gets better from there…
6. Fusion Maia, Da Nang
My love for Fusion Maia is no secret. I have written about its wonders before and no doubt will do so again. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the hotel where all spa treatments are included in the room price (yes, you heard me right, unlimited spa treatments are free!)
But this resort is so much more than unlimited spa treatments… it has a wonderfully calming ambience – from the friendly staff that are dressed in smart-causal beige slacks and white t-shirts to the daily program of yoga that takes place every day by the beach; your stresses and worries will soon evaporate here. The resort has a stunning location on the quiet, white sandy beach of Da Nang – with a large infinity swimming pool that looks out onto the ocean. Meanwhile the villas are stunning. Like the rest of the resort, the theme here is chic minimalist so if you are craving Vietnamese carved beds and Oriental decor this might not the place for you, but if you want to chill in a white robe and blend in with your beautiful, soft white bed then look no further. The villas are unbelievable spacious with huge four-poster beds, an indoor living area and ginormous swanky bathrooms with sunken baths and rain showers.
7. The Nam Hai, near Hoi An
This is top notch luxury at its finest, expect a private butler and service that is out of this world. Many of the villas have private swimming pools and you may never want to leave… This one is a supersonic luxury beach hotel.
One can’t help but fall in love with the stylish, oriental inspired decor of the villas and despite being one of the first resorts to open in the area in 2006, it remains completely unique and incredibly well looked after. All the villas have large bedrooms and living spaces, sunken bath tubs, luxurious en-suite bathrooms and a walk-in closet. But it is the villas with the pools that really stand out here – not just because you can have a dip but because they come with lots of extras included – a private butler service, complimentary airport transfer services,complimentary transfers to Hoi An or Da Nang city, daily afternoon tea in the villa, laundry, a complimentary mini bar which is replenished once a day and complimentary drinks and snacks served in the villa from 6pm to 7pm.
The latest luxury hotel to spring up on my favourite island of Phu Quoc really offers something different, this 5* hotel oozes style and charm. A few years ago the island barely had any development – let alone luxury options, but now we’re almost spoilt for choice!
On the edge of Long Beach (the main stretch of beach that has lantern-lit restaurants in the evening), the Salinda Resort blends rustic local heritage with contemporary design. It is a larger hotel (122 rooms) so you can expect all the amenities and luxuries that come with that including a fitness centre and big pool – but the hotel retains a friendly but cool vibe (and has an ace cocktail list!). Expect to see lots of striking high-quality Vietnamese art as you stroll through the hotel and lovely finishing touches that nod to Vietnamese traditions, despite having a more modern decor. I love that all room have private balconies – so you can make use of your personal iPod docking station that comes with the room, whilst having a cheeky sundowner on your balcony.
9. Chen Sea, Phu Quoc
Phu Quoc might just be my favourite beach destination in Vietnam – this beautiful island in the Gulf of Thailand boasts idyllic clear water, wide and long stretches of fine, golden sand and in the evenings the restaurants are lit with lanterns and candles along the beach; the perfect way to end a lazy day. One of my favourite places to chill is the luxurious Chen Sea, which is set aside from the rest of the resorts and is the ultimate spot to unwind.
Chen Sea is located on pristine stretch of private beach, making it the perfect spot for a quiet and relaxing holiday spot. It boasts handsome accommodation and a gorgeous big infinity pool that looks out onto the calm ocean that surrounds Phu Quoc island. The resort is superbly laid out, which means all the rooms and villas have a complete or partial sea view, and none are more than a few paces from one of the island’s finest beaches. The spacious rooms and villas, ranging from beachfront to hill-side with private pool, are smartly decorated with a tasteful blend of Vietnamese traditions and modern finishes – soft creams are offset by dark woods.
10. Six Senses, Con Dao
The beautiful island of Con Dao is a national and marine protected park – one of the few barely touched spots left in Vietnam. A former prison colony, the island is of outstanding natural beauty and the Six Senses Resort does the almost-impossible job of mirroring the island’s beauty. There are just too many luxury beach hotels in Vietnam, I hear you cry!
This is the stuff that dreams are made of. A perfect crescent of private beach with a backdrop of dramatic mountains, Con Dao island juts out of the water, as though cast adrift from the main land. It is the island that time forgot – an area of outstanding beauty with crystal clear waters, soaring cliffs and hardly any development. The Six Senses Resort boasts 50 wood-panelled eco villas, all of which have their own private pools, with a sea view. Beautifully decorated in scented linens with floor to ceiling windows, the villas also have heavenly bathrooms with big tubs and outdoor showers.
Right, I don’t know about you but I need to find myself the nearest patch of sand to dig my tired feet in! Who would have thought there could be so many luxury beach hotels in Vietnam.