Overview: The Reverie Saigon opened in January in the historic core of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It appears the goal was to create the most lavish, most luxurious hotel in Vietnam. It is unquestionably the flashiest.

Location: The Reverie opened in the heart of Ho Chi Minh’s historic core known as District 1. The 226-room hotel shares a new 39-story high-rise that also includes luxury condos and an ultra-exclusive office complex. The official address overlooks Nguyen Hue Boulevard, which is currently being transformed into a vast pedestrian promenade with a new subway running underneath. So, for the time being, the only way to access the hotel is via Dong Khoi, not Nguyen Hue, something the hotel’s website fails to mention. The Reverie is located equidistance (two blocks in either direction) from the Saigon River and landmark Opera House.

Public spaces: The hotel is lavish beyond imagination, but not in a good way. Some spaces are quite beautiful, such as Cafe Cardinal and the hallways. However, the lobby is so outrageously flamboyant, it looks like the love-child of LIberace and Versace. Every imaginable stereotype of flashy, over-the-top Italian design comes together in one massively ugly lobby. Every surface is bedazzled with jewels or gold or silver or something. Fortunately, the lobby itself isn’t much of a gathering place, so you won’t have to spend much time there. The rooms are slightly more restrained, but not by much. The designers (or the owners) clearly didn’t know when to stop. It’s as if someone kept saying, “We need more, more, more,” as if that were the only way to guarantee The Reverie would become the most lavish hotel in Saigon.

Room: 2825, Deluxe King. Although the hotel boasts about having 12 distinct room categories, I have only been able to find two categories bookable through any online source, including all the major booking engines as well as the hotel’s own site. Those two options are Deluxe King or Deluxe Double, so I booked a king. Room 2825 turned out to be a corner room with sweeping views of the city skyline and Saigon River from the 28th floor. The quality of the furnishings is superb, with great bedding and linens. The room is stocked with robes and slippers, plus complimentary bottled water, tea and coffee.

Food/drink: The hotel’s main restaurant, Cafe Cardinal, is located in a vast, open atrium just beneath the lobby, and offers a truly impressive breakfast buffet (complimentary) filled with a range of European, Chinese and Vietnamese specialties. Several other restaurants are located on the ground floor and sidewalk entrance, but none of those adjoining restaurants allow charges to the room, even though they are operated by the hotel. The Chinese restaurant is lavish, and its Peking duck service is outstanding.

WiFi: Internet is complimentary and moderately fast.

Service: In an effort to live up to its mission of being the most luxurious hotel in town, a staff member will escort you through the hotel wherever you need to go. This appears to not be optional. No matter where you want to go — restaurant, pool, bar, lobby, elevator — a valet will rush to your side and escort you, whether you want it or not. They have cameras everywhere, so it’s impossible to come or go without the staff knowing. It’s all quite comical, really, and it takes a while to get used to. But if you ever need anything, there will always be someone nearby.

Cost: $288, plus taxes and fees = $333 per night. That rate is competitive with the Park Hyatt, which up until now had been the only true luxury hotel in District 1.

Bottom line: For better or worse, this is one of the most ostentatious hotels I’ve ever seen. It is also the nicest new hotel to be built in District 1 since the Park Hyatt more than a decade ago. The staff is incredibly inexperienced at luxury service, so there will be a long, steep learning curve to overcome. The design of the lobby is seriously hard to stomach, while the atmosphere in Cafe Cardinal is truly quite beautiful, so it’s a mixed bag of aesthetics. It’s my guess that this hotel will become the preferred hotel for the rich Chinese businessmen who are rapidly transforming the Saigon skyline and business culture. But I think most Western leisure travelers will most likely still prefer the Park Hyatt just up the street.

The Reverie Saigon
Where: 22 – 36 Nguyen Hue Blvd, District 1 (enter on Dong Khoi until construction is completed next year on Nguyen Hue), Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Phone: +84 8 3823 6688

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