It tells you something about a hotel when you are looking forward to that evening’s bedtime story.
Yes you read that right! Victoria Phan Thiet’s special touches, such as the ribbon-bound fables left on your bedside table every night, make it a hotel you’ll never forget.
It’s been over two years since my visit to Victoria Phan Thiet, but every time I talk about hotels my mind always wanders back to that place and I find myself continually comparing future resorts against it.
Victoria Phan Thiet lies on the southeast coast of Vietnam, on the outskirts of Mui Ne, a small coastal resort which appears to be a hotspot for Russian tourists (signs and restaurant menus can be found in Vietnamese, Russian and English). It’s about 15 minutes from the nearest town, Phan Thiet, and a five-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City. There are many things to do in the local area, but if you stay at the Victoria you may not feel inclined to leave.
A lovely welcome
We arrived late afternoon after a long drive and were welcomed with a glass of refreshing fruit juice and an ice-cold towel before we were shown to our bungalow overlooking the South China Sea.
Due to my mobility issues we’d actually ‘downgraded’ our stay so we could be closer to reception and the restaurant, so we were a bit shocked when we were taken into our bungalow and got to look around…
A bungalow in paradise
At 764 square feet, the bungalow was huge. As we walked through the door we wandered past the entrance area and turned left into our wonderfully light bedroom and living area, with cool tiled flooring, a sofa, relaxing area and a gorgeously welcoming king-sized bed. The bed faced the large patio doors, which opened onto our own private patio looking over the beach. What an amazing view to wake up to every morning!
We then returned to the entrance way and turned right, walking down a few steps to enter a wonderfully large bathroom with a deep appealing bath and private toilet area. Again, double patio doors welcomed you out into your private garden with hammock and outdoor shower – by this point I was practically clapping my hands with joy!
Rest and relaxation
During most of our travels we have a routine of ‘day on, day off’, where we have an ‘active’ exploring day and then a day of rest for me to recover, however, my health was a little poorer than usual on this trip, and so we had to take more downtime for me to rest.
As someone who gets bored very easily I was worried that I’d go a bit stir crazy, but I actually found that this ‘forced’ R&R made me relax more than I had in years and the Victoria Phan Thiet was the perfect place to truly unwind.
Almost an entire day passed with me sitting on our private patio overlooking the sea with a good book, and for a change of scenery we’d wonder over to the resort’s infinity pool, again overlooking the sea, which more often than not we had entirely to ourselves! For the more active travellers there are lots of different sports on offer, so you could try your hand at tennis, squash, badminton, bodyboarding, golf, petanque or cycling.
We visited just out of season (Oct/Nov), so the resort was relatively quiet, however, with just 57 bungalows you know you’ll never be faced with an overcrowded pool or an early morning fight for a sun lounger.
Taking a cooking class
As big foodies, one of our traditions is to have a cooking lesson in the country we’re visiting and as this was something the hotel offered, we thought we’d give it a go. Instead of the usual class in a small local kitchen, we were instead whisked to a private area by the beach and met by the head chef, his assistant and our own private waiter.
Beforehand we were asked what we’d like to learn how to cook and the chef then prepared all the ingredients and brought them all out – with a portable gas hob – to our private veranda. He talked us through the ingredients and then cooked the food in front of us, explaining how best to marinade the ingredients and how long to cook. We were then served each course and ate a wonderful fresh Vietnamese feast feeling like honoured guests! Later the recipes were delivered to our room. They now have pride of place in my recipe folder and we often have Beef Luc Lac for dinner and reminisce on our time in Vietnam.
Friendly staff and ‘Engrish’ singers
Every evening before we ventured into Mui Ne for dinner we would visit the hotel’s La Oceane Bar. Sadly we always found this very quiet, which we felt bad for the staff as the service was impeccable and we made some good friends there. We’d grab a drink, play a game of pool and then have a bit of a chuckle listening to the singers, whose ‘Engrish’ renditions of songs like ‘Call Me Maybe’ would stick with me forever. Wven now we can’t help but sing their version when we hear it on the radio: ” It’s hard to look right, at Miss Daisy!” They were friendly, fun and made for a memorable evening.
Then even though it was sad to see another day in paradise over, I always looked forward to returning to our room every evening. This was because, as part of their turndown service, the staff leave a Vietnamese fable by your bedside to read, along with a sweet cake in a wooden box. I became like an excited child every night, and would read out our new story to Justin whilst enjoying my night time treat. I kept all these fables and brought them back with me. They now lie in a small chest in my living room.
My time at the Victoria Phan Thiet was memorable, and for all the right reasons. Friendly service and wonderful touches like our fables and cake mean that whenever I look back I do so with a smile on my face. If you’re looking for a special trip in the region, I’d recommend this hotel without a second’s thought.