Sleeping and Dining in Vientiane, Laos

Salana Boutique Hotel

The Salana Boutique Hotel is a charming respite in an otherwise underwhelming capital city.

We upgraded to the suite, a spacious room with an extra-large king size bed and views overlooking Wat Ong Teu Mahawihan.

The room has a small sitting area and a writing desk. The bathroom includes a large whirlpool bath. All the usual amenities with addition of an iron and ironing board.

The common rooms look professionally decorated with an Asian flair but a decidedly Western aesthetic.


The breakfast buffet is a cut above and befitting of an upscale boutique hotel in the capital. For a smallish hotel they have an extensive selection of French-inspired Western and Eastern faire. The tidbits of roasted pork, fish and other Asian treats are all well done. The bread is fresh and warm. The fruit is ripe. They have a limited but nice selection of cheeses including a blue, which I believe is Roquefort.

In addition to the buffet options you can order a fresh cooked breakfast including eggs cooked to order, pancakes and French toast as well as pho, an Asian noodle soup. The later was unfortunately too salty. Everything else we tried was excellent. Coffees are made to order including espresso and latte.


Lunch at Kitchen Vibe Bistro in the Salana Hotel

The hotel dining room is tastefully decorated with dark woods in a Western influenced Asian style.

We tried the chicken pesto sandwich, well executed with all the right flavors served with cooked to order twice fried fries, extra crispy and super soft in the center. Don’s Asian chicken bowl was well prepared but nothing special.

Dinner at Ai Capone

Despite the brightly lit cheap eatery décor of their front terrace this restaurant serves authentic tasting Italian food. The menu spans a wide range from inexpensive pizzas to expensive dishes, 500,000 kip ($58USD), with exotic ingredients such as white truffles. They also have an extensive wine list.

Not knowing the quality of the food I was hesitant to try their seafood items or other delicate ingredients. If I were to come back, however, I would be more adventurous.

We started with the insalata mista and the crostitni trio – a Sicilian caponata, a tomato spread and an eggplant spread. All nicely done, the toppings added just before serving such that the crostini was still crisp. Toppings were not too cold either.

For mains we tried the tagliatelli with wild boar bolognaise and the bucatini with caramelized onion and ibérico cured pork cheeks. Pastas are house made and both dishes were well executed.

For dessert, their deconstructed tiramisu. Great flavors but I miss the espresso soaked lady fingers.

The Cannonau (Grenache), a Sardinian wine was also very good, at the end of its life but not past.

Our only complaint was that when paying with a credit card they can only charge you in USD. I generally pay in the currency listed on the menu because otherwise you lose on the exchange rate. In our discussion with the owner, a very confused conversation, he explained that as a foreign owner the banks don’t allow him to charge kip on foreign credit cards. I don’t know if this is true or not. He also explained that he has to buy all his imported products in USD which is probably the bigger issue for him.

In our travels this is the first time a business that accepted credit cards didn’t let us choose the currency charged. They often pass on the 3% fee charged by the credit card company, but the transaction currency has never been an issue.

Dinner at L’Adresse

This high-end French eatery in a semi-casual setting is located a 3-minute walk from the Salana hotel. The simple menu offers a selection of fish and meat dishes plus a few classic French favorites such and cassoulet and confit.

We tried the Lao laap made with raw salmon to start, a small portion served with a green salad. The flavors were spicy and fine but somehow missing something to be truly great.

For mains the beef on a skewer was a fattier cut cooked medium rare, fork tender with great flavor. The lamb was flavorful but the cut of the chops was uneven with some more cooked than others. These were not the meatiest chops either, some having more gristle than meat. Both mains were served with a green salad, freshly cooked fried potatoes and a choice of sauce. The server suggested mushroom and pepper. I preferred the pepper sauce but both were excellent.

The wine was good but again nothing special. The most expensive meal we’ve had yet in Laos it was good but not a great value. My lamb in Vang Vieng was actually better, despite the weird cut of meat, and much cheaper.

I’d recommend this place if you are missing French food. Otherwise there are better options in town including the Kitchen Vibe Bistro at the Salana Hotel.

November 3-5, 2018

For links to all the posts in this series see the Laos/Cambodia page.