Where a hotel puts lobby to good use

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The Lounge lobby bar at the Nikko Saigon Hotel with sofas and chairs covered in silk and lights set in rings in a high proof

For me a hotel lobby simply used to be a place where people can make reservations or sit and wait for someone.

That was until I saw Nikko Saigon Hotel's lobby. It has a lounge bar, where people can meet, organize a small convention, or just relax with a newspaper, drinks, and snacks.

My first impression upon entering the Lounge Bar at the Nikko Saigon Hotel was of a modern space with comfortable sofas and chairs. A white piano and drums stand in one corner. A band plays here with a singer every night from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.

The place is elegant with a simple but luxurious décor. Dozens of lights are set in metal rings that hang from the roof, prompting my friend to say they looked like "huge diamond rings."

The furniture is Japanese style with the sofas and chairs covered in grey and white silk. The wall and floor are also grey and white. The tables are made of wood, creating warmth and balancing the slightly cool colors. The place gave us a comfortable and relaxed feeling.

With 90 covers, the Lounge offers private spaces in one corner, which is located at a slightly higher level than the bar, where guests can order a cocktail or a glass of freshly squeezed juice.

At the entrance is the Deli. Though quite small, it offers snacks, international pastries, coffee, and other beverages.

The bar has a large selection of drinks beers, champagnes, and white, red, and sparkling wines from Chile, Australia, and France, costing VND180,000 to VND600,000 per glass.

It also serves Vietnamese "ca phe sua da" (coffee with milk and ice) for VND85,000-VND185,000, and tea and milk chocolate for VND95,000. Juices cost VND95,000, except for the mixed one, which is VND120,000.

Four kinds of smoothies (orange, strawberry, pinacolada, and mango) are available at VND108,000.

The cocktail menu has 15 different options for VND160,000 each, including all the usual suspects.

The Deli, whose Vietnamese cooks were apparently trained by Japanese chefs, offers cakes all day and some breakfast foods.

Both Japanese and international cakes are available. There are roll cakes, chous cakes, opera cakes in chocolate flavor, and white chocolate mousse, all priced at VND60,000 per piece. Bigger cakes like mascarpone coffee, which is made from Italian cheese, soufflé cheese, a French cake made from egg, milk, and flour mixed with fruit, and strawberry short cake cost VND420,000.

There is also white and black homemade chocolate which cost VND200,000 for a box of ten pieces and VND500,000 for 28.

For breakfast, the place serves sandwiches, shrimp cocktail, salad, baguette, dishes made from tuna and beef, and fresh spring rolls (prawn and pork fresh spring rolls accompanied with vegetable and served with sweet-sour fish sauce) for VND110,000-VND280,000.

At the Lounge Bar, we were served lemon juice. For the first time in my life I had lemon juice mixed with lemongrass. We were told that the lemongrass is cooked with syrup and ground to ensure the drink is smooth and without lumps.

The combination of the lemongrass' flavor and the taste of the lemon made for a great juice that we quickly drained our glasses and I wanted to order another one.

Sitting in a comfortable chair enjoying the unusual drink and looking out of a huge window through a thin curtain made the afternoon incredibly relaxing for us.

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