I’m only just out of Da Nang airport (fresh off a direct flight from Kuala Lumpur) and the sightseeing has already begun on the way to Azerai La Residence, Hue. My driver Haong gives me a choice of taking the 6km tunnel or the 22km Hải Vân Pass. Take the pass! Winding around the hill that separates Da Nang from Lang Co, the road is bordered with lush jungle on one side and spectacular views of bays, pristine beaches and the Da Nang city skyline on the other. It is winter, which is known for its crisp temperatures and grey skies but Lady Luck is on our side and we have a beautiful day. We stop at a number of key lookout points and are greeted by refreshing breezes of around 22 degrees Celsius. Divine!
Azerai La Residence, Hue – Location
Ninety minutes later, we arrive to the majestic Azerai La Residence, Hue. Claiming two and a half hectares on the edge of the Perfume River, the hotel is one of the most prestigious in the city.
Hue was formerly the Imperial capital of Vietnam so it is only fitting that Azerai La Residence is so grand. The incredible Citadel, surrounding the Forbidden Purple City (once home to the Nguyen Emperors) sits across the river on the opposing bank with representations of the old and new Hue divided by the river. The Imperial City together with the collection of striking mausoleums of the Nguyen emperors is the foundation for the city’s place on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Unlike the major hubs of Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh, Hue is a walking city. Wide pathways border the river and getting around on foot is very pleasant. The Citadel, central market and main tourist strip are all within a 15-minute stroll of Azerai La Residence, Hue. And if setting out on foot isn’t your thing, there is a dock next to the property where you can catch a leisurely dragon boat to any number of sites. That’s alongside the taxis, cyclos, private cars and Vespas the hotel can also arrange.
For more photos and a feel for the location, find our top things to do in Hue here.
Azerai La Residence, Hue – Rooms
Holding 122 rooms and suites, the main structure was built in the 1930s. The mansion is the former residence of the French Resident Superieure and was designed with the long streamlined edges, shiny metallics and bold geometrics characteristic of the art deco era. Expanded in 2005, the two adjoining wings are based on the same historical foundations yet with a more contemporary feel.
Rooms provide for a variety of needs and budgets in the two wings and unique suites housed in the main building are ideal for special occasions. My favourite, the Voyage en Chine (pictured below), sees polished wooden floors holding a four poster bed with separate bathroom (inclusive of a claw-foot tub), living room, large balcony and roof access. Taking up the top tower of the main building, guests relish in river views on one side and the cityscape on the other.
No matter your budget, however, all rooms are equipped with the standard amenities offering simplicity, elegance and the brand’s tagline, “affordable luxury.” The most important thing for me though is that they got the shower and the bed right. The shower is high-pressure and has almost instant hot water. The bed is firm, the pillows luscious, and if you have a particular preference for pillow styles, there are five types you can choose from. A hot shower with upmarket bath products and a good night’s sleep are therefore guaranteed, whichever room you choose.
Azerai La Residence, Hue – Dining
Hue is known as the food capital of Vietnam so food hunting around the city is definitely something gourmets should save space for in their itinerary. I found all of the staff friendly and enthused to offer assistance but would highly recommend a chat with the concierge, Ruby, if you’d like to go on a local food tour. Check out some of her recommendations here.
When I’m travelling, I usually like to take breakfast at the hotel before heading out for the day. In fact, a good breakfast can sell me on a hotel nearly as much as the rooms. For guests at Azerai La Residence, Hue, most packages include the start to the day at their signature restaurant, Le Parfum.
Le Parfum Restaurant is a grand space, large enough for events but partially closed off for breakfast, making the area much more intimate. In fine weather, the most popular seats are on the patio with a view over the lawn and out to the river. Otherwise, tables inside offer similar vistas albeit through glass windows. The area is large for the buffet, making it easy to navigate without bumping shoulders with other guests. A good mix of western and local is on display with eggs, pancakes and waffles made to order. Coffee (Lavazza) and tea is poured hot and constantly refilled: alternatively, you can order espresso-based drinks such as lattes and cappuccinos as you like or get a good caffeine kick with a local brew. I’m happy with the selection of fresh tropical fruits (mango, guava, passionfruit, pineapple, rambutan) and eggs made a la minute. The Vietnamese noodle soup, however, should be given a try at least once for brekkie, even if you’re more the toast and cereal type.
At night, Le Parfum transforms into a more elegant dining experience serving up both local and international recipes a la carte. Take a look at some of the dishes I tried here.
Backing up the food and beverage options are Le Gouverneur Bar and the Lobby Lounge, which seamlessly roll one into the other and continue out French doors to a covered terrace. Food comes from the central kitchen of Le Parfum and craft cocktails are shaken, stirred and poured from the bar. The garden views are pretty and there’s even live jazz a couple of nights a week taking advantage of the grand piano in the lobby.
Azerai La Residence, Hue – Facilities
The highlights of Azerai La Residence, Hue are not only the expansive grounds bordered by the Perfume River and charming colonial architecture but an enormous saltwater pool – the only one in Hue. A reduction of chemicals in my life is always welcome and it is fantastic to take a dip and not come out feeling like I’ve stepped out of a lab. While there is much to see in the city, part of a stay at Azerai La Residence, Hue should be reserved for at least a little leisure time by the pool. Even in the “cooler” months (19 – 24 degrees Celsius), it is a pleasant spot to soak up some Vitamin D.
Tennis courts and a well-equipped fitness room furnished with strength training equipment and top-of-the-range cardio machines by TechnoGym, encourage guests to stay active and fully enjoy the local culinary delights guilt-free. Alternatively, a brisk walk or jog along the river is enjoyable exercise with wide paths and parkland bordering its edge. Lastly, for a moment of relaxation and pampering, LeSpa, the hotel’s luxury spa facility, is expected to be ready in February 2019.
Reasons to stay at Azerai La Residence, Hue: simplicity, elegance and affordable luxury; fantastic location on the Perfume River and walking distance to many of the major sites; attentive service; beautiful grounds; the most luxurious hotel in Hue.