Mild Rover: Go your own way

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Blood Moon and the best (budget) hotel in Saigon

I’m just back from Saigon, where I was finishing my next James Dunbar novel, with a lot of stories to tell.  And in case you’re thinking of joining the ever-increasing number of Aussies in the VietSet,  I’d like to jump in with a review of what I discovered to be an amazing bargain-price ‘boutique’ hotel.

Consider this: a huge room and giant bed, with an en suite, a desk,a fridge and a view, in a hotel with a 24-hour concierge desk, about half a block from the Opera House, for… drum roll … $50 dollars a night.

Now, before we go any further, this is not a sponsored or subsidised review.  I was in Saigon for 10 days, wanted to spend another four nights there but also needed to find somewhere less expensive than the fabulous Silverland Ben Thanh, where I spent my last few days.

As ever, I went on to which I use a lot because I get significant  discounts as a Level 2 “Genius” and it has genuine reviews.

I was looking for a small hotel in the city centre that was not a “Chill” apartment – they are usually small Airbnb-style joints with loose rules and regulations and where people could just crash after a long day’s touring or a hard night’s partying… or both.

The La Paix Boutique two-star hotel popped up. It was a great price with mostly positive reviews with the only negatives being muted complaints that there was poor soundproofing between rooms and the fact that the middle, cheaper rooms didn’t really have windows.

Apart from that the rooms were clean and comfortable and the cleaners were hearing impaired.  Apparently it can be difficult for anyone with any disability to get work in Vietnam, so this was something of a breakthrough.

Huge bed, huge bathroom, thin walls.

My favourite Mexican restaurant (I know, I know) from my room in La Paix

Now, before you rush off and book yourself a room, be aware of a couple of things. At first I was in a “deluxe” room on the third floor at the front which was quite noisy.

Next day I moved to the top (eighth floor) which was a lot quieter but the free wi-fi, which was fine further down the building, lost a lot of its reliability on the way up through the floors.

Also, the hotel is a typically tall, narrow building which means only the deluxe rooms at the front and back have windows directly to the outside while the two cheaper rooms in the middle have windows that give you a view across the internal corridors, to external windows.

As for the soundproofing, I never heard a thing until the morning my Immediate neighbour spent a good half hour talking to God on the great white telephone (copyright, Mr W Connolly).  The walls between the bathroom seem to be where the insulation is at its thinnest.

There are compromises to be made.  The aircon on three was too puny for the 38 degree days, while the one on eight handled the heat and humidity with impunity, but dripped like an over-watered houseplant.

The Hotel is on Hai Ba Trung, parallel to Dong Khoi (formerly the Rue Cattinat of Graham Greene fame) and two streets from Nguyen Hue Boulevard. It’s also just a couple of blocks from the river and surrounded by all sorts of restaurants offering all kinds of cuisines.

Would I stay there again?  I might set another novel in Saigon just so I can justify another trip there. Oh, and I got a picture of a “blood moon” from my window. Maybe that’s what I’ll call the book.

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