FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Amantaka Review

by Richard Newton

Feb 21, 2024

© AMAN

eFlyer Reviews

You know what you’re going to get at an Aman hotel, and also you don’t. Expect peerless service, obsessive attention to detail, architectural elegance worthy of a fashion magazine, a holistic approach to wellness and astounding levels of comfort. But each property is also intimately connected to its setting, and that’s where the surprises lie. For instance, finding yourself on your knees on a sidewalk in Luang Prabang handing out sticky rice to Buddhist monks at 5:30 a.m. isn’t something we expected.

Amantaka’s local credentials are written into its name. The Aman brand name is Sanskrit for “peace,” usually followed by a suffix to denote each property. In this case, taka is derived from tipitaka, meaning “teaching of the Buddha.” Few cities are as deeply immersed in Buddhism as the UNESCO World Heritage city of Luang Prabang in northern Laos. Every morning at dawn, orange-robed monks from the city’s many temples walk in procession along the streets to receive alms, usually gifts of rice and other food. Aman guests have the opportunity to take part.

Amantaka

© Richard Newton

Wearing traditional scarves across our left shoulder, me and my wife kneeled in eerie silence holding bowls of rice while a member of Aman’s staff explained what we were about to do and why. Soon the first lines of monks arrived. Most were mere children; Laotian males spend weeks or months as monks during their boyhood. We passed them handfuls of rice, which they received into their own bowls to be eaten soon for breakfast.

Our participation — direct from a luxury hotel — ought to have felt contrived, but when we returned to the airy splendor of our pool suite, the profound dignity of the ceremony remained with us. It’s a near-impossible trick to pull off, but that’s part of the Aman magic. Cosseted within our suite or lounging beside our private swimming pool, we were always conscious of the environment beyond the hotel walls.

Amantaka

© AMAN

Those walls are part of a UNESCO-listed complex originally built in French-Indochinese style as a royal residence, and subsequently served as a hospital. After a painstaking conversion, during which new buildings were added in the same style as the old, the hotel opened in 2009.

The 24 suites are arranged around the perimeter of a large, tranquil garden. On one side of the communal swimming pool are the spa and bathhouse. The latter can be booked for private use for an hour at a time; you get the run of the plunge pools (heated and cold), sauna and steam room. On the other side is a gym and a room in which guests can arrange to receive instruction from Buddhist monks. Meals are taken on the terrace beside the pool or in the colonial refinement of the main building.

Amantaka

© AMAN

On our second evening there was a poolside performance of traditional Laotian dancing while we enjoyed a lavish royal banquet for two. By happy chance it was our 12th wedding anniversary, and the staff surprised us with a cake. On return to our suite, we found the spacious bathroom lit with lanterns and the bathtub full and strewn with rose petals. The romance of the evening had been heralded in late afternoon, when we voyaged in Amantaka’s private wooden boat a short distance up the Mekong River and then, as we savored snacks and drinks, drifted side-on with the current as the sun set behind the mountains.

Amantaka

© AMAN

Accommodations and service of this quality do not come cheap. Aman hotels are favored by the rich and famous. The unique charms of each property help to ensure every stay at an Aman hotel instantly becomes a milestone in your life.

Amantaka

55, 3 Kingkitsarath Road
Luang Prabang 06000, Laos
tel 856 71 860 333

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