Checking in at a hotel. It’s an unavoidable experience, usually met with weariness by even the most seasoned traveller. The pleasure of having to sign a handful of forms, scrambling for tucked away passports and handing over credit cards for that ubiquitous ‘guarantee’, lest you burn down your room. It’s a trying ritual that tests patience and fortitude. Fortunately, the folks at The Reverie Saigon have listened to the qualms of guests and have boiled the whole charade down to 60 seconds. Following our transfer from Ho Chi Minh airport — helmed by a white-gloved driver, no less — we pull up into the hotel’s entrance. It all feels very presidential, as suited men with earpieces open the doors, greet us and whisk us to the 7th floor lobby. As we approach the reception desk, a beaming man offers us a single form to sign, as someone pops up from behind with a tray of tropical drinks. And this pretty much sets the tone for our stay at the hotel.
Located on Ho Chi Minh’s Nguyen Hue Boulevard in District 1, The Reverie unabashedly announced itself in September 2015. The hotel has already achieved landmark status in this part of Vietnam’s busiest metropolis and it can be safely assumed that it has surpassed its hitherto rivals, neighbouring hotels The Caravelle and The Duxton. One could say that the property’s loud arrival is matched by its interiors, where minimalism and subtlety are proudly eschewed in favour of bling, bling and, well, more bling. References to the tastes of Old World aristocracy abound, evidenced in every nook and bejewelled cranny, from the bespoke three-metre high Baldi Firenze clock that stands in the lobby to the mosaic tapestries which line the walls. No expense has been spared here and the hotel wants you know it.
In The Reverie’s 224 rooms and 63 suites, things are a little more subdued. Semi-precious stones and miles of Calacite make way for white Carrera, snow-white Frette linens and resplendent views of the Saigon River. Italian designers, including Colombostile, Giorgetti, Poltrona Frau and Cassina — many of whom have boutiques in the same building — have teamed up with the hotel to outfit the accommodations. And yet, despite the amount of attention (and money) that has been poured into the interiors, they seem almost secondary to the views. Double bathrooms offer breath-taking vistas over the Saigon River, and parts of the Mekong Delta and in sleeping areas, floor-to-ceiling windows paint real-life panoramic tapestries of the city. Elsewhere, a cinema-sized flat screen television may or may not be a fantastic platform on which to watch some ‘genuine fake’ DVDs you may or may not have bought at a market around the corner. There are the usual marks of a luxe abode: a turndown service, daily fresh fruit and amenities by Chopard, as well as some simple, but much-welcomed touches —suitcases arrive in our room before we do and every member of staff we encounter knowing our names.
This is a hotel built for roaming. Beyond the accommodations are five dining options — the only shame is that none of these offer Vietnamese cuisine. However, what The Reverie lacks in local food, it makes up make up for in variety, with a fine dining Chinese restaurant The Royal Pavilion, leading the pack. Café Cardinal offers high, poolside views of the city, while The Deli pulls in guests and locals alike to its offering of macaroons alongside the Vietnamese beverage of choice: iced coffee.
Our lunch at The Royal Pavilion is summarised by basket after basket of light and fluffy dim sum delivered to our table, each housing delicate morsels of shrimp wrapped in steamed glutinous parcels, crispy wontons and steamed mini pork ribs, which only the experienced should attempt to tackle with chopsticks. All-day dining venue Café Cardinal looks to the country’s French connection with a menu peppered with Gallic delights such as lobster bisque, tuna tartare and a macaroon buffet for dessert. Service is polite, discreet and somewhat superfluous; we didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when a waitress pulled out a mini-chair specially provided for diners to sit their handbags on, rather than the floor.
With all this gluttony on offer, it’s tempting to venture beyond The Reverie’s walls to detox and decompress in a city where a good foot massage needn’t set you back more than £5. But consider this; by European standards, The Reverie’s spa is quite reasonably priced for the facilities and treatments on offer. A luxurious 60 minute massage – preceded by a soothing foot washing ritual and finished with an eye-rolling head massage – costs around £50 and includes access to the spa’s Himalaya salt-infused sauna and a hi-tech steam room.
It’s all concluded with an Instagram-worthy tray of treats that includes warm muffins, tropical fruits and a pot of hot ginger tea. Cosseted in the spa’s first floor lounge — replete with a floral mosaic pattern designed by Sicis of Italy and bowed walls of slatted walnut (obviously) — it’s hard not to be rhapsodic about the hotel’s theatrical drama. The hotel’s chief architect, Kent Lui, puts it best, saying “its extravagance and splendour captivates because the hotel really does present a design experience like no other”. Hear, hear.
The Reverie Saigon, 22-36 Nguyen Hue Boulevard, Ho Chi Minh City. Double rooms from $350. For more information, visit www.thereveriesaigon.com. The Reverie Saigon is part of The Leading Hotels of the World collection. For more information, visit www.lhw.com.