Ditch work and check in for a date night staycation in Saigon
We had both been busy at work and we really needed a break, but neither of us could spare two nights out of town. We thought about Vung Tau, but after living in the city for three years, we’ve both been there too many times to count, and we couldn’t face the long journey.
So, we decided on a staycation for a night and I hadn’t realized what great value you can get for a five-star hotel in Vietnam. We booked Le Méridien Saigon (3C Ton Duc Thang, D1; www.lemeridiensaigon.com) based on the great facilities (we’d used the spa there before) and choice of restaurants. Our plan was to check-in and not leave the hotel until it was time to re-enter the real world again.
As soon as we walked into the room the familiarity of the ice cold air conditioning, the robes (who doesn’t love a good hotel robe?), and the fancy chocolates on the pillow automatically flipped a mental switch to ‘holiday mode,’ and the needle on my internal pressure gauge immediately began to fall. We recognized that this was the only real quality time we’d spent together just the two of us in ages, and the setting was perfect. Floor-to-ceiling windows boasting a view right across the city to District 7, and a huge, invitingly soft bed littered with pillows.
9th Floor – Pool
After checkin and taking advantage of the comfy bed, we spent the rest of the afternoon at the pool. It’s a unique layout—carved out of the river-side of the building on the 9th floor—so its open-air infinity pool looks across Ba Son shipyard and the Saigon River to District 2. Located right next to the fitness center (which we guiltily ignored), the two levels of loungers let you choose between the sundeck and the poolside shade. We stayed there until the orange-red sun dipped below the horizon—adding another touch of romance to our ‘getaway’ stay.
After ditching the monsoon shower for a luxurious hot, bubbly soak in the freestanding bathtub, we headed down for dinner at Bamboo Chic, one of the hotel’s three restaurants serving Asian fusion cuisine. The contemporary decor and lounge music set a relaxed tone, and the discreet seating and low lighting ensured a truly romantic ambiance. Usually wary of signature cocktails we started with a ginger gin fizz (VND180,000++, which was excellent, spicy ginger with a little tickle on the tongue) then took a gamble on the house sake-based Yakuzaaa (VND220,000++, breaking my own decades-old rule. It arrived in a small, shallow bowl, and oh my god it was amazing! I now understand that some rules really are made to be broken.
The wakame salad (VND180,000++) was fresh, crunchy, and well-dressed, and a good size for two to share. It arrived at the same time as the spicy salmon uramaki, a personal favorite of mine. The combination of flavors and textures were well balanced, with lightly flavored sushi rice. Our second starter, Chinese spring rolls and softshell crab (VND290,000++) followed quickly, despite the restaurant being full. Stuffed with whole prawns, the spring rolls were juicy and flavouful, and the softshell crab was wonderfully crisp, and equally tasty.
We thought we were full when the Wok-fried Australian beef tenderloin (VND380,000++) arrived, but the elegant presentation and powerful aroma convinced me otherwise. The imported beef was as tender and juicy, as the locallysourced capsicum were crunchy, with everything tossed in a black bean and fresh chilli sauce and served piping hot.
We managed to squeeze in a single dessert between us (because we’re on holiday, right) and opted for the goldleaf chocolate lava (VND140,000++)— oozing hot chocolate fondant served alongside a scoop of delicately flavored matcha ice cream. After we rolled ourselves into the lift and back up to our room, I couldn’t stop myself from wondering whether the breakfast (included in the room rate) would live up to the dinner—which we discovered the next morning after a wonderful night’s sleep—it did. The extensive breakfast buffet was the perfect way to end a wonderfully peaceful, and romantic, break from the ongoing chaos outside. Le Méridien Saigon is an oasis of calm and romance that we will definitely stop in at again.
Images by Ngoc Tran