Tristram Clayton checks into the Park Hyatt Saigon

Getting there:

Air New Zealand

flies direct from Auckland to Saigon. From the airport, it's surprisingly easy - it only took 25 minutes to complete the 7km journey to the hotel in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City's charming French quarter. Not bad when you consider the city has a population of 12 million.

Check-in experience: Welcoming and easy. The taxi pulled up outside the main doors, which are opened (day and night) by two attendants. There was no wait at reception and we were immediately given fresh coconut juice to help cope with the 35C temperatures outside.


Room: A stunner. Spacious, comfortable and luxurious, with a great view out over the beautiful Opera House. The room (and entire hotel) is modelled on an elegant French colonial design style.

Price: $335 per night.

What's so good about this place? Where do I start? The Vietnamese love their coffee, so my morning flat white was perfect. (There's also a Nespresso machine in all rooms). The third-floor outside pool was top notch, as were both of the hotel's bars. Drinking in the main bar was like immersing yourself in a Graham Greene novel, while the more modern upstairs bar made the perfect espresso martini. And all the staff were warm and friendly without being irritatingly obsequious.

And bad? I thought $12 for a poolside bottle of Saigon Special a bit steep especially when they only cost $5 in neighbouring bars.

What's in the neighbourhood? Aside from the aforementioned Opera House, there are a wide range of great bars - two of which have stunning rooftop sections. The river, Cathedral (a mini Notre Dame), Reunification Palace and mind-blowing War Remnants Museum are a short walk away. But my highlights were the Vietnamese cooking school and traditional Vietnamese massage shop opposite the hotel.

Toiletries: Unremarkable.

Food and drink: Unfortunately, we didn't eat dinner in the hotel but the breakfasts were splendid. The French colonial influence was present in the high-quality pain au chocolat and croissant but for me, the Soup Pho (which put the Western equivalents to shame) was the perfect way to start the day.

The bed: Sumptuous. Comfortable. Top quality.


Bathroom: The bathroom and toilet weren't massive but the rain-shower and bath were - great when you're taking three showers a day!

Free Wi-Fi? Of course.

Noise: Didn't hear a thing - this building is solid.

Room service: Like dinner, I didn't have cause to try it. But judging by the staff you'd meet around the hotel, I can say it would be friendly and attentive.

Value for money: If I wasn't there for work this would be well beyond my budget - but for a world-class, luxurious stay, I guess it's pretty reasonable.

Exercise facilities: Didn't try out the gym and sauna but the large outdoor pool was great.

Perfect for: The ultimate luxury stay in a frenetic and fascinating city.