The idea was to build the first non-smoking bar in town. A couple of other establishments beat the Park Hyatt to the accolade, but none of them got anywhere near when it came to design. And indeed, from the moment you walk into 2 Lam Son, it is this feature that stands out.
The first thing you notice is the freshness of the place. Huge glass street-front windows, hand-carved wooden bar stools, semi-private booths wallpapered in fabric from Sapa. All mix in with a lightbox square bar in the centre of the main room. A walk-in wine cellar also makes an appearance as does a mezzanine level with adobe walls. And then there’s the electro jazz, the latest music craze in Europe, playing through a top-end sound system and the feel that you could be anywhere from New York to Singapore.
The key, though, says F&B director Christoph Travniczek, is that this is a “neighbourhood bar”. Entrance is both through the hotel and through the street – the main doors look out onto Hai Ba Trung opposite the entrance to the Refinery. Then there are the decidedly non-five star prices. Local beers like Tiger and Heineken start at VND65,000 while wine by the glass costs between VND110,000 and VND190,000. Even the cocktails have avoided the temptation to go top-end, with prices starting at VND140,000.
And, to top it off, 2 Lam Son closes at 2am, making it a welcome addition to late-night Saigon.
2 Lam Son, 2 Lam Son Square, Q1 (entrance on Hai Ba Trung opposite Refinery).