So reads the periodical we pick up at the entrance, just inside the main room of the mansion of the former governor of Annam — aka, Central Vietnam. Beyond, there is a wooden bar with a pleasant curve to it, Hibiki and Hendrick’s on the back bar.
We walk past portraits of colonial types perched over fancy cars, animal skins draped over their bedposts. Past a shop selling locally-sourced crafts with a contemporary edge, where my father will later buy VND4 million worth of jewellery. Up the slightly convex stairs to a tidy double room, whose glass doors lead out to a vast shared patio, the Perfume River curving underneath.
It’s the week after Tet in Hue’s fanciest hotel, and everywhere people seem to be breathing a sigh of relief.
Echoes of the Past
La Résidence has some history, this you can see down every corridor you walk. The design strikes a balance between the colonial echoes of the building’s beginnings and the modern city it’s anchored since 2005.
While the rooms are named after colonial luminaries, the business centre is decorated with portraits of the rulers of the imperial age. And the meticulous staff is largely made of Hue natives, whose commitment to the city is evident in their care and humour. The modern city in which La Résidence is located takes cues from all of these influences, and is increasingly fulfilling that promise.
During our second night, we see an edge of that new city. With La Résidence’s PR liaison Lan leading the way, we take a coffee by the newly pedestrianised riverfront. The lack of traffic hum fits in with the relaxed vibe we’ve been carrying with us throughout our visit.
The next morning we take the same tranquil breakfast we took the day before, on the outdoor patio facing the Perfume River. Later, I take a book down to the near-Olympic-sized, salt-water swimming pool, trying to get this relaxed feeling into my bones. It’s all around the hotel, its aura as thick as the imperial city we walked through the day before. — Ed Weinberg
Check out La Résidence Hotel & Spa at la-residence-hue.com