Staying In Style: The Anantara Hoi An Resort

1 March 2016

It was almost midnight when I arrived at the Anantara Hoi An Resort – seven hours later than originally planned. Let's just say the cheap airfare from Hanoi wasn't worth the trouble for all 15 flight delays.

I had big plans for those initial seven hours. After all, I had been anticipating my three-night stay for months.

Travel Inspiration The Anantara Hoi An personifies French colonial charm (image: Anna Howard)

A riverside setting close to the Old Quarter, pool and a decadent spa... the Anantara is all your luxury resort dreams personified in coral-hued French colonial charm. There's not a nook not worth photographing.

Needless to say, the warm greeting, a refreshing drink and ease of check-in was thoroughly welcomed, though not as much as the room at that late hour.

And the river view room exceeded all expectations. Each suite is by no means swanky or overtly swish; they exude demure elegance and cosy luxuriousness.

Travel Inspiration Rooms look out over the river, gardens or pool (image: Anantara Hoi An)

With rooms spread across two levels and two blocks, each split-level abode features an L-shaped sitting area and king-size bed (or two singles). As far as hotel beds in Asia go, the Anantara's offerings are like the Rolls Royce of mattresses.

Free Wi-Fi is also plus, but it's more about the little things.

Turn down service means a traditional story is laid on your pillow, as well as a hand-written note – on a leaf, no less. A sunken spa serves as both a bath and shower and dark timber doors open up to reveal a tranquil porch overlooking the charming Thu Bon River.

Travel Inspiration Looking out from Lanterns Restaurant (image: Anna Howard)

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Come morning, hazy skies reveal the tranquil grounds studded with palms as fishing boats whirr past.

With only 93 rooms, the resort is compact. You certainly don't need to account for travelling time when moving between your room and the facilities.

Consider Lanterns Restaurant as the centre of the resort. This airy space serves a breakfast buffet overlooking the river. You'll find all the usual breakfast suspects, as well as made-to-order Vietnamese dishes, such as aromatic pho and crispy Vietnamese pancakes (banh xeo). Don't forget the satay sauce.

In the evening at Lanterns, you can enjoy special dining experiences, including regular hot pot nights and seafood barbecues.

Travel Inspiration The spa also offers couples massages and journeys (image: Anantara Hoi An)

You can also dine at the relaxed Riverside Cafe and lively O'Malleys Irish Pub. If you want to spoil your significant other, Dining by Design is the ultimate in tailored private meals, complete with butler service and a romantic riverside setting.

If you're as taken with the banh xeo as I was, book in for a Spice Spoons cooking class and learn how to recreate the dish at home.

The indulgence continues at the spa sanctuary where you'll find everything from nourishing scrubs and wraps to heavenly massages and facials. There are also signature spa journeys, a bespoke experience with your own sequence of treatments, for up to four hours.

Travel Inspiration Paradise found (image: Anna Howard)

If all that relaxing and indulging and general holiday merriment gets a bit much, you can always bring yourself back down to earth at the gym.

It's small with three glass walls, but has all the equipment you need for a cardio or weights session. That is, if the view doesn't make you question why on earth you're doing lunges when you could be sipping Pina Coladas by the pool instead.

The glittering deep aqua water is surrounded by hanging vines, palm trees and a herb garden. The leisure space is peaceful, quiet and did I mention it serves cocktails? Come early afternoon for a swim and Happy Hour specials. Before you know it, hours have passed by.

Travel Inspiration The pool is a serene space to spend an afternoon (image: Anna Howard)

When you're distracted by the pool and river views, it’s easy to forget the real reason for your stay: to explore Hoi An.

It's not hard to split your time between the Old Quarter and the resort. The Anantara Hoi An is a short stroll from the lively Central Market and mustard facades of the Old Quarter.

Of course, you could also ride a bike into town and An Bang Beach. Cruisers are free to hire from the resort and are a fantastic way to get around just like the locals. If you're a bit wary about riding amongst all the motorbikes, take peace knowing they are banned in the centre of Hoi An during certain times of the day.

Travel Inspiration The Anantara Hoi An at dusk (image: Anna Howard)

And all those other hours of the day, you can easily spend at the Anantara Hoi An. Aside from all the little luxuries, it was the service that made my experience. Stay and be truly, wholly and utterly spoiled by the friendly staff.

So I may not have been able to book in my decadent half-day spa journey, or luxuriate on my private porch as much as I would've liked. Such is life when it comes to travelling, but I more than made up for the seven hours lost.

The Anantara Hoi An Resort completely exceeded all my expectations and one thing is for sure: I can't wait to return. Or move in.

At a glance:

Stay: River View Room

Eat: Hoi An specialities from Lantern Restaurant

Drink: pina colada

Do: Spice Spoons private cooking class, chill by the pool, take a four-hour spa journey

Anna Howard

Give me street food over Michelin stars, cellar doors over wine bars and small towns and wide open spaces over big cities any day. Travel for me means ticking off the 'to eat and drink' list one regional flavour and wine bottle at a time.