Sofitel Saigon Plaza, Ho Chi Minh City

sofitel saigon plaza

France plays a significant role in the history of Vietnam so it seems fitting that the luxury French hotel brand Sofitel has such a presence in the country. In Ho Chi Minh the Sofitel Saigon Plaza is modern and luxurious, a cool and calm place to escape the city madness.

To feel like a VIP, opt for one of the club rooms on the 18th floor, with access to the exclusive lounge for complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea and evening canapés and cocktails. The outdoor swimming pool is also located on this floor, which is a bonus in a destination described as having two seasons: hot and very hot!

Our bedroom was smart and simple, with touches of Vietnamese and French design. Red lantern lights offered colour by the bedside and wire lampshades hung artistically from the ceiling. A writing desk by the window had impressive views of the city below. The bed was topped with crisp white sheets and a large comforting duvet, it was an extremely nice prospect to return home to each night after a day of exhausted sightseeing. The tea and coffee facilities are comically concealed in a giant white dumpling basket.

The compact bathroom is smartly designed to fit into a small area, with power shower, separate toilet and his-and-hers sinks. The mirrored surfaces give the illusion of more space, whilst also giving a contemporary feel. The shower is stocked with indulgent Lanvin toiletries that left my hair smooth and strong as well as smelling fragrant.

We found a few great Vietnamese and Western restaurants nearby to the hotel, but there is also plenty to feast on in the club lounge. I was particularly impressed with the evening snacks, a range of delicious cheeses and cold meats, dumplings and spring rolls, cakes and fruit. Sit back with a G&T or a glass of champagne and watch the sun go down over the city.

Sofitel Saigon Plaza is a great base for your Ho Chi Minh holiday, but is also a lovely place to spend time if the heat gets too much. We arrived in the city in the midst of the Lunar New Year, when much of the city was closed, but I was only too happy to take the opportunity to rest at the Sofitel Plaza and enjoy all the little luxuries at this fine accommodation.

More information and book a room at Sofitel Saigon Plaza here.

Mama Shelter Marseille

I spend a lot of time in the South of France, but the busy port town of Marseille has never really appealed to me, until this year. Eurostar have recently extended their service, so it is now just a five hour direct train journey from London, and with the arrival of many trendy new bars and shops it has become an exciting destination for young and hip travellers.

The Mama Shelter brand is fashionable and affordable, first opening in Paris in 2008 and opening this second outpost in Marseille in 2012. The chain now has six hotels, four in France, one in Istanbul and most recently a hotel in Los Angeles. It is the perfect option for thrifty, style-savvy nomads who appreciate modern interiors and technology-focussed amenities. The bedrooms are designed by Philippe Starck, a Parisian designer who impresses with his creative interiors in venues across France.

The hotel has 127 rooms, and start at just 79 euros a night. We were upgraded to room 311, a spacious deluxe room on the third floor of the hotel. The large bedroom was equipped with a 27″ iMac, including numerous services: TV, radio, Airplay, Skype, internet and free WiFi access. There was a minibar and a desk where you can play or work. The floor was a colourful patchwork but most other things were minimal and white. The huge bed was blissfully comfortable and had strategically located plugs for charging, and lights for reading in bed. The full length mirror had a kind message from Mama, ‘welcome, mama loves you’ and in the bathroom, ‘you look beautiful’. I also loved the other little details, amusing masks for in-room selfies and lovely toiletries made for Mama Shelter by absolution.

It was such an unexpected delight to discover that the stylish apple TV had a variety of free films. After an evening of gallivanting around town I was happy to collapse on the bouncy white bed and watch a comedy.

The restaurant is a popular haunt with guests and visitors, and always receives rave reviews for the lavish Sunday brunch.

I enjoyed exploring Marseille and Mama Shelter was the perfect place to stay for a our brief city break.

More information on Mama Shelter Marseille and book here.

Hot on the Highstreet Week 271

Earlier this week I visited Marseille for a weekend, and was delighted to find a few unique little shops that I wanted to tell you about. This southern French city is big and particularly popular with tourists during the summer months. The Eurostar has recently introduced a direct service from London and so I predict the destination will see a lot more British tourists in the coming years.

chez lucas

Chez Lucas – this den of salvaged French vintage items is great fun to explore. From 1950s school maps to retro glassware, you will find everything you could need to make a perfectly old-fashioned French home. Prices are reasonable and the owner may even let you bargain him down.

Manufactures Françaises – this is a new boutique outpost of Maison Empereur, the popular French concept store in Marseille. The shop is found in Panier, the oldest district of the city and is instantly alluring from the street. This little treasure trove only opened in April stocking a range of traditional, design-focussed products including colognes, soaps, homeware, straw hats, smocks and old games.

Marseille shop

La Grande Savonnerie – The city of Marseille is famous for its soap, though only a few authentic shops remain.  La Grande Savonnerie is one of the best, and customers are able to personalise their bars of soap with their own message. Opt for the traditional flavour, Savon de Marseille made from olive oil and other natural ingredients.