We spent three nights at the Don Chan Palace and I would not recommend this as a place to stay.
The hotel is located just outside of Vientianne, it overlooks an empty derelict lot close to the Mekong. It is a large hotel, built in 2004 with over 200 rooms. It is the primary ( and possibly only) large scale conference centre in Laos. The location is an issue, there is no pedestrian access in and out of the hotel, you have to walk a convoluted route to get to the main shops. Although for $10US they will drive you. ( which is expensive by local standards), there are not much in the way of amenities around the hotel, so you are kind of stranded away from the action.
The hotel is primarily used as a transit point and overnight stay for Chinese tourist groups, it was fairy evident that the hotel was not looking for repeat business.
Check in was easy, quick and efficient. In fact engagement with all staff was always pleasant and helpful. No complaints there, they did their best with what they had.
We were on the 7th floor, looking out over the Mekong, the room was a standard comfortable size, if not looking a little tired and in need of renovation. The bed, oh my goodness, the bed was simply horrible. It was rock hard. I like a firm mattress, but this was ridiculous. It was so hard at times it hurt. I think a park bench would have been more comfortable. The wifi was terrible, it was patchy, often drop out for long periods and when you asked for IT support the modem would be switched on and off and there would be a shrug of shoulders. Then it would drop again. No English TV channels available. So jet lag at 3am was fun, a crap bed, no wifi and no TV! At one point I got out of the bed and tried to sit on the chairs only to discover they too were rock hard and my backside has padding! Imagine being skinny?
The breakfast buffet ( $12US) was ok, not flash and not terrible, enough to get you started in the day, but had unsurprisingly a very strong Chinese leaning if that is to your taste. ( deep fried duck beaks anyone?)
The pool and gym were on the 4th floor, when we wanted to go for a swim, staff insisted we shower first ( which we had done an hour before so it really was not necessary) and insisted we abide by the rules of wearing a swimming cap. We are middle aged men, my husband is bald. It is not the hair on our heads that you need to worry about! The caps were too small for our large western heads and we gave up. The gym looked well equipped but i did not use it. ( told you, middle aged men!)
There was a general lack of care on the premises, there was an abandoned bus parked in front of the hotel, we joked that it was a form of post apocalyptic landscape gardening, if it was, it was very well done.
I try to not end negatively, so what else did i like? My husband informs me the toothbrushes provided were of excellent quality and they also had good thick toilet paper.
Let's not forget the staff, they were kind, friendly and helpful, but good grief where they are working needs some management and care.
Visited with my family as external guests to have a swim in the pool on a warm day. Pros: nice pool, shaded. Basically empty. Good view of the sunset over mekong river. Cons: expensive, 50k/35k kip pr guest. Takes 45 minutes to order something to drink from the pool bar
Despite a little rundown, and probably at a good 4* level and not 5*, Don Chan Palace is an excellent value for money choice. We had a room on the 11th floor with panoramic view over river Mekong & the view of the most amazing sunsets.
Rooms are large and despite furniture being old they are well maintained and clean. Breakfast is exquisite and offers a large variety of both European and Asian dishes - while some are cooked for you on the spot. Dining in the hotel is a good option as it offers a diverse selection of foods (this is for the main hotel restaurant, there is also a Chinese restaurant which we didn’t try) at a very good value.
There is a decently equipped gym & a swimming pool. Location might not be for everyone but it works if you are looking for a quiet base while exploring Vientiane. The hotel offers a shuttle bus to the city centre that runs every 2 hours, from 10am until 8pm (last pick up from the city centre is at 8.15pm) – it is an approximate 20’ – 25’ walk from the hotel to the city centre
I stayed for 1 night because next morning we have a plan to go to Vang Vieng. The room was perfect with full facilities and i go t a conner room and high floor "1123" them you can get a fantastic river view. Only one thing I disappointed "NO Bum gun toilet " but never mind all it good !
(This floor doesn't hot like a below review that mention)
Staff: I love Concierge guy, Receptionist all them have a lot service mind and try to help us everything we need.
(Thank you all you guy)
Location: it's far from the downtown for the person who love party. But if you love to relax at a hotel this is a great place to stay.
Overall I love here and the price not expensive
Thank you very much and see you next time
The service we received was always excellent from all staff. They were knowledgeable and helpful and responses were very prompt. The front desk staff spoke good English--something that can't be taken for granted in much of southeast Asia.
The lobby is beautiful and well-maintained. The rooms show a bit of age but were still in good condition.
My wife loved the pool area but I felt it was showing its age more than other parts of the hotel. While the pool itself never gets direct sun, there is always plenty of space in the sun for your loungers. The pool and the pool area are large and were almost empty most of the time we were there. When we swam, we were always the only people in the pool. The pool is unheated (as most SE Asian hotel pools are) and because it gets no sun, it is very refreshing (i.e. cool): we liked this. The only swimmer we saw spending a significant length of time in the pool wore a wetsuit!
Breakfast was buffet-style from 6 am to 10 am in a large, well-appointed room. The buffet was extensive: salad bar, many fresh fruit choices, cereal choices, bread/croissant/pastry choices, about 5 hot entree choices (e.g. chicken/veg stir fry; shrimp and noodles etc.), egg station, soup station, roti station and more. The food was good. We did not have any other meals at the hotel other than breakfast.
We had a corner room which had incredible views of the Mekong and of the city, especially at sunset. The hotel has very quick easy access to the river trail which is several kilometres long and traffic free: in SE Asia it can be difficult to find a safe easy place to run or walk since sidewalks are often full of stalls or parked vehicles forcing you onto busy roads full of chaotic traffic. Thus if you enjoy walking or running, this river trail is a huge peaceful asset.
We walked to the centre of the city each day from the hotel and took the free shuttle once. The shuttle to the airport is also free but must be pre-arranged and is at set times. We took a cab from the airport to the hotel: the cab was a new vehicle and charged a very reasonable price set by the airport (about 65000 kip--much better than cab fares charged in other Laotian cities for comparable distances and a better value than most of the tuktuk rides we took).
The cake boutique in the lobby has good prices and offers a two-for-one special each day starting at 5 pm which made the prices incredibly good.
Much of the hotel's business seems to come from Asian tour groups but given the size of the lobby and the breakfast restaurant, we never felt crowded or overwhelmed by the groups.
All the local people we met in Vientiane seemed to think that the Don Chan Palace was hugely expensive and luxurious. It was a fraction of the price of most of the other Vientiane hotels of similar quality. We would definitely stay here again if we returned to Vientiane.