A hotel experience like no other in Vietnam
TWO famous dead fellows come to mind during a stay at The Reverie Saigon in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. Liberace and Michelangelo. The extreme bling of the hotel would make Liberace pale even if he strode in with mink coat and fingers dripping with diamonds.
Everything glitters, twinkles, shines and gleams at The Reverie. From the gold-leaf in the ceilings to the ornate patterns in the terrazzo-tiled floors, to inlays of mother-of-pearl and lacquer, it is opulence overload.
As for Michelangelo, fortunately he visited the Carrara Mountains in Italy for David's chunk of marble long before the owner of The Reverie did. Otherwise there would have been no marble left in the land. It's all at The Reverie.
This extraordinary six-star hotel is in the hub of the city overlooking the Saigon River. Massive drop-chandeliers in the lobby glitter, above them multi-coloured glass art competes for attention. Riotous wall-coverings, floral panels, abstract paintings (even the lifts are lined with quartz and back-lit for an amber glow) make for a show-stopping entrance.
Level 7, the check-in floor, is awash with custom-made pieces: a cherry wood console embedded with semi-precious stones, a five-metre sofa in purple ostrich leather studded with amethyst and flanked by two enormous throne chairs replete with grandiose swirls of gold, a three-metre clock by Italy's Baldi with lead crystal and 24 carat gold accents. It's like having the world's most expensive foods all on one plate and not knowing where to start.
The Vietnamese owner has eschewed traditional Asian decor and indulged his passion for the bedazzling excess of Italy. Money was never going to be an issue for him.
In our room on the 30th floor overlooking the pedestrianised Ngyuen Hue Boulevard, a free-standing chandelier with drop earrings twinkled beguilingly, the king-sized bed with satin-padded headboard and Frette linen welcomed and when we were ready, electric curtains blacked out the buzz of the city below. In the marble and mosaic-tiled bathroom, Chopard toiletries kept up the luxury - and for a final and quirky flourish, the loo had a heated seat.
Service matches the luxe: someone always at the end of the phone waiting to oblige, a staff member popping out from behind a marble column to assist.
Dining is just as bewitching. The lofty Cardinal Cafe morphs from a sumptuous breakfast location where Asian and Western offerings can be washed down with free-flowing Prosecco, on to brunch, lunch and afternoon tea presentations, and finally to French fine-dining in the evening.
At the Royal Pavilion with its dyed-orchid displays, the dim-sum presented by Hong Kong-trained chefs is as good as any in China.
The Vietnam House restaurant, just a few steps outside the lobby, has our own Luke Nguyen's signature on it, with high-end Vietnamese dining in elegant surroundings.
The hedonism is at its best at the two-level spa where a smiling therapist holding a small candle will escort you up the curved marble staircase, setting a mellow mood for Asian and Western aromatherapy treatments in one of the 10 tranquil rooms.
The large pool and meandering terrace overlook the city skyline, a fitting place after a few hours out on the steamy streets.
You may love the unabashed affluence of The Reverie. You may not. You may be awed or mortified, delighted or confused. But one thing is certain, you will have a hotel experience like no other.
The writer was a guest of Jetstar and The Reverie Saigon. More information at: the reveriesaigon.com
Jetstar has three direct flights per week from Sydney to Ho Chi Minh City, priced from $239 one way.
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