Caravelle Hotel, Saigon - review by Rusty Compass
Ho Chi Minh City | hotels guide

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Caravelle Hotel, Saigon

| 07 May 2018

Map

Map
Caravelle Hotel, Saigon
19 Lam Son Square, District 1
, Ho Chi Minh City
+84 28 3823 499

Map

Price guide: More than US$120 per night

Our rating
Location
Design
Ambience
People
Facilities
07 May 2018

One of Saigon's historic hotels - great location, modern luxury, nice boutique atmosphere. Not much remains of the hotel of Vietnam War era fame.

Note: The information provided in this review was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service

The Caravelle commenced a major renovation in early 2018 and most rooms will be closed until early 2019.

Review

The Caravelle Hotel opened in 1959, and is another of Saigon's historic hotels - though there is little evidence of the original building in the modern structure. These days it’s one of the city’s premier downtown hotels with full business and leisure amenities and a perfect location. Great boutique feel, excellent staff and management - rooms feeling a little tired.

Location

Right in the heart of Saigon looking over the historic Opera House and the Continental Hotel.

Design, ambience and people

While the Caravelle played its part in Vietnam’s war history, the only reminders of that time are pictures that decorate the hotel interior. A 1990s renovation flushed away any visible remnant of the 1959 structure. In its place is the original curved structure on the corner, overshadowed by a large tower.

Once inside, things improve. The lobby area is cosy and welcoming. Rooms are comfortable and spacious but the decor is definitely in need of a freshening up. Nonetheless, the Caravelle remains one of the city’s most popular hotels.

It's worth paying a slight premium for an Opera Room - looking back across the Opera House towards the Cathedral.

The rooftop Saigon Saigon bar has great views across the fast changing city skyline.

The Martini Bar is home to an outstanding collection of images of Vietnam in the 1990s, by US photographer Catherine Karnow - well worth a look over an evening drink.

We haven't eaten here for a long time but Reflections restaurant has some of the best views across the city's historic heart too.

Staff are excellent as are the facilities.

History

The old Caravelle, like its neighbours the Continental and the Rex, played its part in Vietnam's war history. It was a favourite with war correspondents - especially the rooftop bar. In the sixties and seventies the bar had views across the Saigon River (now blocked by the Sheraton Saigon) and correspondents could drink the evenings away while maintaining a safe watch on the war across the river. The area is now the Saigon Saigon bar and has been renovated beyond recognition.

The Caravelle was the headquarters for many foreign news bureaus during the war and the location of the Australian and New Zealand Embassies.

In August 1964, the hotel's fifth floor became the centre of the conflict when a bomb exploded. A number of people were injured but nobody was killed in the blast that was presumed to have been targeting foreign journalists.


Facilities
Pool, gym, spa, free wifi throughout. Restaurants and bars. Full amenities.

Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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