Hoi An, means ‘melting pot’ of cultures, and today the description could not be more apt. From cooking courses to bike tours, old houses, tailor shops and many, many restaurants, there is much on offer. A pass will gain you entry into the old town for the duration of your visit, as well as to the ancient houses and assembly halls. Arriving without a plan can feel initially like an assault on the senses, but there is no need for travellers to Hoi An to pre-plan too much. To regroup, we start with a pastry, washed down with a decent espresso (hard to find in these parts), at Mango Rooms, in the centre of town. We settle on booking a Vespa tour around the Hoi An countryside, and a cooking class at Red Bridge Cooking School. We then set off to find a tailor, of which there are hundreds.
But it’s the poolside River Bar back at Hotel Royal that provides much-needed respite from the heat of each day. On day one, we quickly learn that visitors sensibly hide away between the hours of 11am, and 2pm, because it’s too hot out and about in the streets. A dip in the pool, a fresh mango and prawn salad, washed down with a local beer on the in-water sunbeds restores us for the evening’s activities. After sunset, Hoi An becomes alive with lanterns, markets and tourists, the walk into town is dotted with locals families dining by the river. One could stay in Hoi An for weeks, and not be close to sampling all the food on offer.
Notable mentions dining in the old town are; Morning Glory, a Hoi An staple, for the shrimp mousse on sugarcane skewers, Rice Drum for sunset sangrias and Vietnamese pancake, and Streets International, for the tasting menu and curried eggplant. At Streets, you will not only sample some of the finest food in Hoi An, but also support a great initiative while dining. The restaurant, supported by The Bill and Hilary Clinton Foundation, is a social enterprise, training teenagers in all aspects of hospitality.
Back at Hotel Royal, I’m impressed by the non-pretentious nature and intuitive service from the local staff who engage us in poolside banter under the fairy lights. On our final night in this special place, we try the signature cocktail of the month “Scent of Tra Que”, a refreshing mix of pennywort, lime, Midori and vanilla syrup.
With little time on our hands, we don’t even make it to the Woosah Spa, but I’m using this as one of my many reasons to return. Being sent on our way to the airport with a warm breakfast box filled with pastries and fresh juice only just eases the pain of leaving this wonderful place.
To sum up, a perfectly located luxury base for families and couples alike to explore all that’s on offer in Hoi An and beyond.
Hotel Royal Hoi An – Where and How?
Hotel Royal Hoi An is located at 39 Dao Duy Tui, Hoi An, Vietnam.
For more information visit www.hotelroyalhoian.com.
T: +84510390777 F: +845213950888
Photography courtesy of Accor hotels