After visiting Ho Chi Minh City, I will never again be able to use the word bustling without thinking of the lovely chaos there. Since we live in LA, I’m used to traffic, but there’s something impersonal and mechanical about the traffic in LA. Everyone is at a distance, enclosed in their giant cars, in their orderly lanes, lost in their own worlds. In Ho Chi Minh City, most people ride scooters or motorcycles, so it feels more human. It’s certainly more chaotic than what we are used to! Scooters zipped onto the sidewalk or even drove the wrong direction when it suited them. Crossing the road as a pedestrian for the first time required some soul-searching. The sights, sounds, and smells of the city are fascinating, but can be totally overwhelming as a tourist (especially with a one year old!). Thankfully, the Park Hyatt Saigon was a refreshing oasis from the bustling madness of the city outside.
Since we knew we would be arriving late at night after an incredibly long day of travel and no sleep, we had the hotel send a car to pick us up from the airport. They also provided a FastTrack service to escort us through customs and help with the visa process. We were barely functional at that point, so it was a relief to have someone there to handle everything for us. It was also helpful to have the driver waiting since the taxi line was hours long and we also needed to install Xander’s car seat.
The drive from the airport to the hotel didn’t take long and gave us our first glimpse of the city. A lovely lady from the hotel met us at the car and escorted us straight up to our room to check in. Xander had finally fallen asleep (our double long haul flight adventures will be their own post, but suffice it to say we finally had a tough flight with him after nothing but smooth sailing since he had been born), so we left him sleeping in his car seat while we got situated in the room. The hotel was renovated in 2015 and it shows. The rooms are beautifully clean, simple, and light. We were delighted to find they had included a pack ‘n’ play, baby bath, and baby toiletries kit in the room for Xander. They also left fresh flowers and an assortment of fruit. We had to google how to cut into the dragonfruit!The room includes an iPad, which is loaded with information about the hotel and restaurants, but can also be used to access the internet. There is free wifi everywhere in the hotel. The bed was wonderfully firm, which is ideal for cosleeping. Often hotels layer down pillow tops on older mattresses, which makes them fluffy and soft, but not ideal for cosleeping with a little one. After twenty something hours of traveling, I was ready to wake up stiff, but my back felt great after sleeping in this supportive bed.
The bathroom was super cool because it featured multiple options. There was a bath and a shower within one enclosed shower space. The shower also had a regular head and a rain shower head on the ceiling. As you can imagine, it felt glorious to wash away all the stress of the airports and flights before flopping into bed.The rooms also have Nespresso coffee makers, USB plugs, an adaptor, a Bose speaker, and plenty of bottled water since you aren’t supposed to drink the tap water. They are furnished thoughtfully for convenience and comfort. It was about 11 pm when our heads finally landed on the pillows and we slept for the first time in well over 24 hours. We were hopeful that Xander would embrace the fact that it was nighttime and sleep for a solid block of time since he had slept so little on the planes…but he wasn’t having it. He gave us two hours and then wanted to get up and play from 1 am to about 4 am before taking another nap. We got back up just before 6, which was conveniently when they started serving breakfast in the main restaurant off the lobby called Opera.
At least Xander was bright-eyed and excited! Kris felt much better after sampling a Vietnamese iced coffee. I perked up when I caught sight of the mountain of pastries. We were alternating holding Xander and getting food when Anh from the concierge desk came over to introduce herself to us. Xander took and instant liking to her, so she took him adventuring around the restaurant and lobby, which allowed us to eat and ingest some much-needed caffeine. Xander was particularly intrigued by the ceiling fans and beautiful Vietnamese artwork. The breakfast at Opera was excellent. We ate there every morning of our stay, and found ourselves counting down the minutes until 6 am every night when we were up with our jet lagged little guy. They had an assortment of fairly standard Western breakfast fare mixed in with more traditional Vietnamese choices. Their pastries were outstanding–easily on par with what I would expect from a top-notch French patiserrie…and I ate enough of them to be absolutely sure. Bui, the pastry chef clearly noticed my appreciation, so on our last morning there, he switched my plate out and gave me warm almond croissants straight out of the oven. They were heavenly.
The staff at Opera were wonderful with Xander and so friendly and accommodating with us. In particular, our servers Thu, Chieu, and Tai interacted with X to keep him excited about letting us eat. He especially loved Luan (pictured below) who made the mistake of introducing me to young coconut water straight out of the coconut. I thought I disliked coconut water, but it turns out I just don’t like the fake processed versions–the real deal was phenomenal and I drank far too many of them. The manager, Bao, made a point of greeting me by name every morning and Suong made sure we had a table where Xander could watch the motorcycles. After breakfast each morning, we let Xander stretch his legs and explore the hotel. The long hallways were perfect for him to practice walking, and he loved finding windows and watching the motorcycles whizzing by on the streets below. He picked up the sign language sign for “motorcycle” not long before our trip and seemed delighted to put it to good use. He paraded up and down the hallways signing “motorcycle” in what turned into his “motorcycle” dance. A focus of the Park Hyatt’s 2015 renovation was the central pool area on the third floor. They have turned it into a lush maze of gardens and seating areas to relax and enjoy a cool drink and a snack. We sat outside one afternoon and enjoyed some Tiger beers and chilled white wine in an effort to keep cool. I chose a Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough New Zealand, which brough back fond memories of our last trip. We were missing New Zealand’s winter temperatures. Even in the winter, the heat in Ho Chi Minh City is sweltering. Xander started to get sweaty almost immediately, which did marvelous things to his hair. He was excited to discover that we had an icy cold food pouch for him that we had stashed in the room fridge before going down to the pool. Once he knew the pool and gardens were there, he demanded to visit them again and again regardless of the heat. We weren’t complaining. The gardens were beautiful.Because Xander was jet lagged he was awake from roughly 2 am to 2 pm every day, so we definitely got some funny looks for ordering beer at 10 am. It also meant our meal schedule was wonky, which we took as an excuse to disregard conventional meals and eat like hobbits instead. The Opera restaurant had a cake and pastry boutique, so when Xander planted himself at the door expectantly waiting to go on an adventure, we went in search of cakes!
Xander explored and watched the traffic outside while they prepared our order. They couldn’t believe Kris was going to drink another Vietnamese coffee after witnessing how many he had at breakfast. They were further astounded that I was going to put away more pastries. When is the last time you ordered coffee and a treat that came packaged this beautifully? It was like we were unwrapping delicious gifts.
In addition to Opera, the Park Hyatt has a restaurant on the second floor named Square One. The decor had all kinds of wonderful textures that Xander found endlessly fascinating. We had every intention of having dinner there, but didn’t actually end up being awake for the dinner hours during any of our days there, so we missed out on Square One. Their menu looked fantastic, though. It featured the Western fare you would expect to see in a high-end steak house along with traditional Vietnamese favorites. We ordered room service a few times once Xander was asleep and I believe the Vietnamese dishes came from Square One. They were excellent.
We spent lots of time letting Xander romp around the hotel. The Park Hyatt has some of the best conference facilities I’ve seen, and since most of them weren’t in use at the time, they were happy to let Xander explore. Know what’s almost as amazing as motorcycles?? Doors…with windows in them! The little creature Xander is carrying around was given to him by Anh. It will be an adorable souvenir of his visit to Vietnam.
My favorite space in the Park Hyatt Saigon (besides being cozy in bed) was the gorgeous tea room and its elegant chandelliers. They do a full afternoon tea service, which we contemplated sampling, but we ended up exploring the staircase overlooking the tea room instead. In the evenings they serve cocktails and usually had some form of live music. One of the nights it was jazz musicians and the others they had a pianist. We were impressed to see they had Lagavulin and Talisker on the drink menu. When Xander is older maybe we’ll visit again and we can sip scotch and listen to jazz, soaking in the ambiance…I’m in no hurry for that to happen, though. Seeing his excitement at conquering the staircase suits me just fine at the moment.Xuan Spa in the Park Hyatt is not to be missed. When I went to book an appointment for a massage, Xander came along and once again the staff were wonderfully patient with him even though the spa wasn’t really a child friendly space.
“Xuan Spa offers a gateway to overall wellness and rituals inspired by Vietnamese beauty and health traditions. Great care has been taken to select the finest floral, botanical, and mineral resources from the Mekong for of all Xuan’s spa experiences.”
The day before we left I had a Xuan Signature Muscle Release massage…and it was so good I managed to sneak back on our day of departure for the Xuan Signature Calming massage and a Ben Tre Hydration Facial. I can’t think of a better way to prepare for a grueling day of travel.For our final meal in the hotel we stopped by Opera for lunch. During lunch and dinner Opera serves Italian food, so we ordered two woodfired pizzas. Xander immediately fixated on the silverware, but thankfully got distracted by the ceiling fans, which held his attention long enough to let the food arrive. Our flight wasn’t departing Ho Chi Minh City until 11 pm, so we were a little stressed about what we were going to do to fill the time once we checked out since it would be after Xander’s usual bedtime. The hotel was incredibly generous and let us stay in our room with Xander sleeping until the car was ready to pick us up to go to the airport at 8:30 pm.
In summary, if you find yourself in Ho Chi Minh City, I highly recommend staying at the Park Hyatt Saigon. It is ranked as the #3 hotel in Ho Chi Minh City on TripAdvisor, but most of those reviews are from before it was renovated, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see it take the top spot in the near future. Everything from the food to the rooms to the amenities was excellent and the staff were friendly, helpful, and patient with Xander. In addition to all of that, the hotel is perfectly located within the city to be walking distance to most of the things you would want to see as a tourist: Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, Reunification Palace, the Central Post Office, City Hall, and the Opera House. We thoroughly enjoyed our time there.