Amanoi, Vietnam

Every special hotel starts with a journey. The scenic coastal drive to Amanoi is almost as spectacular as the resort itself. It is made even more enjoyable by the hotel’s private transfer from the local airport, which is complimentary for all guests.

Amanoi is located in central Vietnam nearby to the protected Nui Chua National Park. The beautiful, rugged landscape is a stark contrast to the modern, design-focused resort but in my opinion presents the perfect juxtaposition. The hotel’s central pavilion houses its main restaurant, bar and library. Natural materials are used wherever possible and the space has as only a few exterior walls and windows, which gives an abundance of light and air.

There are 31 one-bedroom pavilions and five multi-bedroom villas. All are similarly spacious and thoughtfully-arranged, with vistas of the National Park, the sea or the lake. I stayed in a pavilion with a large balcony and an uninterrupted ocean view. The open-plan room was flooded with natural light and featured concealed and discreet electrical amenities and controls. The sleek decor and warm colours made it immediately appealing, and I spent as much time as I could relaxing in the comfortable living area. Through a pair of sliding doors was the expansive bathroom, with his-and-hers sinks and wardrobes, a large stone bath and sliding windows and doors to expose you to the elements.

The food at Amanoi is all of a very high standard, whether you dine in-room, at the beachside cafe or in the hotel’s main restaurant. Executive Chef Danny Woodbridge oversees all the menus and ensures guests requests and requirements are met. For our first dinner we enjoyed some delicious  international favourites, and on our second night were spoilt with a Vietnamese feast. Particularly memorable were the smoked eggplant with spring onion sauce, and the authentic beef claypot.

Breakfast was a daily highlight. A comprehensive menu of international and local treats, both healthy and indulgent options. I sampled impeccable dishes of eggs benedict, French toast and pancakes, alongside the daily selection of fresh exotic fruit and juices, and flaky homemade pastries.

When you are not relaxing in the privacy of your room or enjoying the hotel’s culinary delights, there are many facilities and activities to keep your entertained. The Aman Spa is a heavenly retreat, overlooking a lotus flower covered lake, with treatment rooms, sauna rooms and a yoga pavilion where each morning guests are invited to join a complimentary session.

The hotel’s two pools, health club and gym are also available free-of-charge, or for those wanting to have a go at watersports, the beach club (with its own pool) is another option. There are also a number of walks and hikes within and nearby to the property. For early-risers, you can catch a spectacular sunrise from the top of Goga Peak, just a 10-minute stroll from the hotel’s central pavilion.

Amanoi is an idyllic and isolated getaway from the busy cities of Vietnam. With sun year round it is very appealing escape from Britain’s less than reliable weather.

More information and book a stay at Amanoi here.

The Nam Hai, Hoi An

Of all the destinations I visited in Vietnam, Hoi An was without doubt the most charming and memorable. This Unesco World Heritage city offers many beautiful historic sites and is home to the country’s famous tailoring industry. Wandering down the glowing lantern-filled streets is enchanting, like a trip back in time.

I recommend avoiding the touristy accommodation in the centre and heading instead to the paradisical Nam Hai, a modern luxurious retreat with a private stretch of beach. Despite the close proximity to Hoi An (a ten minute drive), the spacious hotel feels blissfully isolated encouraging you to immediately relax.

The all-villa, 35 hectare resort can host up to 300 guests. There are 100 villas in total, 40 of which have their own private pool and personal butler. Many of the other 60 villas offer access to the beach, with beautiful views across the ocean. After admiring the spectacular tiered infinity pools, we were driven by buggy to our villa. Nestling among the foliage was our divine sanctuary. The decor is uniform across all villas; sleek contemporary design with cool calming colours. The central elevated area of our bedroom had elegant light drapes surrounding it which were drawn at night to give the room a cosy feel. The regal bed was topped with a voluptuous duvet and bouncy pillows for maximum comfort and decadence. Behind the bed a huge stone bath was wonderful for evening soaks. The room also included a writing desk and lounge area complete with authentic Vietnamese ornaments and artwork.

Breakfast was my favourite meal of the day at The Nam Hai. Every morning there is an endless array of Eastern and Western favourites, with an open kitchen for hot a la carte dishes, champagne on ice and a variety of tropical fruits and juices. Needless to say I saw it as my duty to sample the full menu, enjoying long lazy brunches every day, which embarrassingly began to feel like the norm. Highlights included the fluffy pancakes with berry compote, and the deliciously creamy omelettes. Coffee was rich and flavoursome and the freshly squeezed orange juice was amazingly sweet.

The signature restaurant serves fusion cuisine with a strong Indian influence and the more casual beach restaurant offers light lunches in the daytime and Vietnamese classics accompanied by traditional music in the evenings. After ten days of Vietnamese food it was strange to be eating Indian inspired dishes at The Nam Hai. Considering the warm climate, I found the curries heavy and opted instead for one of the international dishes. Pressed terrine of vine ripened tomatoes with whipped mozzarella, basil oil and leaves from the hotel’s organic garden was a stylish and unique take on a classic salad. The tomatoes were brilliantly sweet and red and the leaves had a vibrant aromatic flavour. The Punjabi lamb kebab with beetroot yoghurt, cucumber was also delicious, a spiced caramelised kebab with a complementing yoghurt dressing.

The Nam Hai spa is one of the hotel’s greatest assets. There are eight treatment pavilions which sit serenely overlooking the lotus flower covered lagoon. It is a fairytale setting which makes the treatments here feel extra special. After a refreshing rose water foot soak I was treated to a Vietnamese massage. The highly trained therapist kneaded my weary muscles using a fragrant pine, lemon, cedarwood and orange oil. While I felt my skin being rejuvenated, I could hear the sounds of nature outside the pavilion. This destination spa is a miraculously beautiful place and should definitely be part of your Nam Hai itinerary.

When you feel the need to work off some of those deceptively calorific Vietnamese spring rolls there are plenty of active options at the resort. Swimming in the glistening turquoise pools is a must, the view they offer is second to none. There is also a small gym, bikes to ride, a tennis court and complementary daily yoga classes.

The hotel staff are on hand to help make any excursions as close to perfect as possible. They provide free shuttle bus transfers to and from Hoi An throughout the day, so guests can visit the culturally rich city as often as they wish. There is also the option of day trips to the Marble Mountains or Hue, a sacred and historic town.

Hoi An is not an easy place to reach from the UK, travellers need to get an international flight to one of the major cities before transferring onto a local flight to Da Nang. Despite this The Nam Hai is a very popular option for English and European jetsetters and after spending a few days here I can see why. This immaculately stylish hotel has faultless facilities and stand-out service, all just moments away from Vietnam’s most captivating city.

More information and book a stay at The Nam Hai here.

Banyan Tree Lang Co, Central Vietnam

Banyan Tree Lang Co is set amongst the leafy landscape of central Vietnam. The quiet fishing village of Lang Co provides the perfect place for tourists to enjoy a private and exclusive holiday. It is a remote and rugged location for a stunning secluded luxury escape.

The all-villa resort has different options for couples and families, but amazingly every villa includes its own private pool. The 49 villas vary in size and location – found either beachside, hillside or by the lagoon. We were very happy in a spacious and indulgent Lagoon Pool Villa. In front of the villa was a tempting turquoise pool with deck chairs and at the back a lush green garden.

The villas are inspired by the houses in the local neighbourhood, simple but sophisticated with high ceilings giving an airy and grand feel. A plush King-size bed takes centre stage in the bedroom, surrounded by striking art work and Vietnamese crafts. I immediately noticed a satisfying symmetry in the design of the room, which had a calming effect on me. After discovering our ‘his and hers’ wardrobes with matching robes, slippers and toiletry sets, I stood and marvelled at the stylish bathroom. The huge freestanding bathtub got plenty of use during our two-day stay and the powerful rainforest shower was refreshing and reinvigorating.

The award-winning spa, and 18-hole golf course by Nick Faldo are a real bonus, particularly wonderful for those guests spending longer at the resort. Hotel staff will pick you up and drop you off in the buggies, so it doesn’t take long to get around despite the size of the property and grounds.

There is never a bad time to visit Central Vietnam as this part of the country experiences warm weather most of the year. Unfortunately we witnessed an unusual downpour of rain during our stay, so the beautiful 3km beach was out of bounds, and poolside lounging wasn’t an option. This gave me a real opportunity to explore and experience the activities the hotel offers daily. Angsana Hotel is part of the same complex, and provides another space for guests to enjoy food and activities. We spent an afternoon here learning to make Vietnamese lanterns and tasting Vietnamese coffee, while it poured with rain outside.

I have always eaten exceptionally well in Banyan Tree resorts and Lang Co followed suit. The signature modern Thai restaurant, Saffron, offers flavoursome and authentic cuisine with gorgeous hilltop views. The atmosphere was relaxed, despite the high quality of service and fine food. I loved the live traditional music, which serenaded the guests during dinner. Particularly memorable were the creamy red roast duck curry with lychee and pineapple, and the succulent roasted peppered pork spare ribs with honey sauce. An array of rice varieties were served at the table to accompany the spicy meal.

Every morning breakfast is served at Azura restaurant, where an endless buffet grants your every wish. From flaky pastries, fresh exotic fruit and eggs made-to-order, to Vietnamese noodles and vegetable soups – the choice is excitingly overwhelming. I was equally impressed with the food at Angsana where we sampled a vibrant lunch of seasonal recipes.

Whilst staying at Banyan Tree I highly recommend you take advantage of the complimentary shuttle to nearby historic town Hoi An. This charming UNESCO world heritage site is famous for its lanterns and tailoring, and is a lovely place to wander around for a day. The imperial city of Hue and impressive ruins of My Son are also just a short car ride away. After a tiring day of sightseeing you will be relieved to return to the idyllic grounds of Lang Co, a relaxing and wonderful retreat.

Overnight stays at Banyan Tree Lang Co start from £280 on a bed and breakfast basis. For more information, visit www.banyantree.com or call +84 54 3695 888.