THE MOST LEGENDARY HOTEL IN INDOCHINA
Imposantly standing on a lushly hill amidst the verdant landscapes of Dalat, the Dalat Palace Hotel is a timeless testament to French colonial opulence and sophistication, both in term of architecture and service. Anyone stepping into the warm, intimate lobby, preferently after climbing breathless the cyclopean stairway across the flowered park, couldn't escape the palpable sense of history that saturates every corner of this architectural masterpiece.
The Dalat Palace Hotel, ex-Langbian Palace (and more rencently Sofitel Dalat), often hailed as the «Grand Dame of the Highlands», boasts a storied past that adds an additional layer of allure to its sumptuous present. Erected in 1922 during the French Protectorate, its colonial architecture, adorned with intricate details and expansive balconies, serves as a homage to the grace of a bygone era.
Stumbling upon a living time capsule is a rare occurrence, but here, history isn't merely exhibited; it envelops you like a comforting embrace.
The hotel's renown for excellence resonates in the myriad reviews on Booking.com, Tripadvisor.com, and traveller’s forums, where patrons shower praise on its faultless service and panoramic views of the surrounding hills, city center (located just a ten minutes pleasant walk), and Xuan Huong Lake on which it offers a spectacular panorama.
As the adage goes, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating," and here, the pudding is a delightful fusion of luxury and tradition.
One cannot discuss the Dalat Palace Hotel without delving into the roster of distinguished guests who have graced its corridors. From all the Governors of the French Indochina to the young Sihanouk (educated in the nearby Yersin College), the hotel has hosted a distinguished array of personalities. This is where Emperor Bao Dai (whose must be seen summer palace is located nearby) met the woman who became the last empress consort of the Nguyen Dynasty. This famous womanizer noticed the young beauty at a charity ball held in the hotel. He invited her to a tango, and the rest, as they say, is history. It's as if the walls themselves murmur tales of shared laughter and guarded secrets. Staying at the Dalat Palace Hotel is akin to walking in the footsteps of legends – a genuine accolade for any voyager.
While exploring the impeccably groomed gardens, the idiom "bed of roses" sprang to mind. The Dalat Palace Hotel is not merely a place to rest; it's an immersive encounter that transports you to a realm where every moment is a fragrant petal in a bouquet.
The hotel's dedication to excellence isn't just a façade but a guiding principle evident in every aspect. The staff's commitment to delivering top-tier service is akin to a "well-operating mechanism," ensuring a seamless experience for every guest. Though the beautiful Citroën 15, parked in from of the hotel, needs a complete restauration to tour the guests around the city as it did two decades ago when Sofitel managed the hotel. Though, also the cocktails aren’t the best which we experienced in a five star hotel bar (with a too creamy «Golden Dream», which needed a bit more Galliano and orange juice). Though it has no swimming pool, which is what we regreted the most. Though, last but not least, the smiling and super king staff should develop its skill in English.
The rooms and suites are most pleasant and tastefully designed; but don’t expect anything ritzy. They captured the atmosphere of 1920s, and staying at the Dalat Palace is like travelling back in time. The bathrooms boost the French palace hotels (Negresco Nice, Ritz Paris, Evian Palace…) timeless chic and simplicity. The hotel is not bling at all: just extremely elegant. It has a more modern annex next door, designed as a «convention hotel», and where the rooms are more modern and plush. Nicely done, indeed; yet, we DO prefer the historic Dalat Palace...
...Simply because the Dalat Palace Hotel is not merely a lodging; it's a destination in its own right. Enmeshing us in a legacy relishing the richness of both history and hospitality. As the sun descended behind the distant hills, casting a warm hue over the hotel's exterior, we had our cocktail at fine dining restaurant «Le Rabelais» terrace. As already mentionned, we can find better cocktails in Dalat; but the thrill, the charm, the magic cannot compete with any other venue. Not to mention the charm of the exquisite, discreet yet anticipating waitresses. That’s the dreamed place for a romance, or simply to smoke a cigar (yet they have the cutter, they don’t have the appropriated ash tray…).
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