The Majestic - The Breeze Sky Bar
In the heart of District 1, the best hotels in town all vie for the prominent spot. To be fair, in one way or another, they almost all pull it off. First prize in the battle for location has to go to The Hotel Majestic, sitting as it does right on the riverside at the end of Dong Khoi, one of the most prominent streets in town. This magnificent French colonial building is one of the most respected hotels in Southeast Asia. The 175 room opulent hotel, is where Graham Greene wrote his best seller “The Quiet American”, this is the stuff of legend.
It really is a superb hotel, the location, French design and staff, make it a very special place to stay. Guests can enjoy the use of six restaurants and bars, the most popular being the Breeze Sky Bar on the roof, presenting lovely views of the Saigon River. This is a delightful rooftop bar that is partly covered, giving visitors the choice should the weather be less than fabulous. This is a truly awesome place to sit either during the day or in the evening. It has a calm relaxed atmosphere, that suits the venue perfectly.
The Rex Hotel - Garden Bar
Formally a garage, built by the French at the start of the 20th century, it is a magnificent and large building, dominating the square at the junction of Dong Khoi and Le Lai, though the front entrance is on Le Thanh Ton. The hotel has been voted in the “Top Ten Hotels” for ten consecutive years by the Vietnam Tourism Association. It is steeped in history and for anyone old enough to remember the Vietnam War, it makes for an emotional visit.
The only hotel that I had heard of before arriving here was in fact The Rex. during the Vietnam war, foreign correspondents held their daily press conferences from the roof. These broadcasts, that became known as the 5 O’clock Follies were watched avidly from all over the world, giving the Rex worldwide fame.
It is a superb hotel, the roof top Garden Bar is a wonderful place to sit in the evenings and enjoy a drink and one of the best views in town. Though that view is somewhat diminished at the moment, by the construction work being carried out on Saigon’s new underground rail system. They have live music most nights, great cocktails and a lovely atmosphere. Steeped in history, it has fabulous old photographs on the walls as you walk out onto the most famous roof in town.
Caravelle Hotel - Saigon-Saigon
Address: 19 Lam Son Square, District 1
Open 11:00am till Late
The Caravelle is one of the true landmarks of Vietnam. French colonial built and sitting next door to the Opera House, its arched roof high in the sky is recognisable from all over the city. It is a grand design of grandiose proportions. The tall tower was added later. The older more traditional style original building is much older.
On the top of the old ten-storey wing here, the famous Saigon - Saigon Bar can be found. This is one of the best rooftop bars around. A chic modern indoor bar with an outside terrace that runs round three sides. Fabulous views of the city, great wines and sumptuous food, beautifully presented. The menu is everything you would expect of a top five star hotel. The music is totally suitable to the surroundings and played at a volume that allows people to actually speak to each other. The buzz of conversation creating the best of ambiences. This is a real treat. By Vietnam prices it is high end, but remember this is Vietnam, compared to the West, it is not expensive.
This is a place for Saigon’s well heeled and of course guests of the wonderful hotel. The traffic noise falls away and the warm evening air creates one of those uniquely Asian experiences.
Grand Hotel - the Grand Café
Address: 8 Dong Khoi Street, District 1
Open between 01:00 PM - 11:00 PM
The Grand Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in the city having been built in 1930. It is on one of Saigon’s main streets, Dong Khoi and right in the heart of the very beautiful Riverside area, of District 1. French colonial design and build make this one of Saigon’s stand out buildings. It presents 230 magnificent rooms and suites. It was fully renovated in 1997 but has retained all of its former charm and iconic luxury status.
The Grand Café Bar & Restaurant on the 20th floor here, is a popular place after the office, of an early evening. It has undergone a complete renovation in 2014. It presents a kind of party ambience and is a good location for for relaxing and enjoying the night after work. They offer delicious cocktails and really great snacks and have live music every night. This is right in the centre of town and the view from the rooftop bar is excellent. This is a great place for orienting yourself with District 1, don’t forget to take your camera.
The food is excellent and by 5 star standards, not at all expensive. The only negative thing I can say about this place is that the motorbike parking is in the basement and the lift starts 40-odd steps up.
The Pulman Hotel - Cobalt Bar
Address: 148 Tran Hung Dao Boulevard, District 1
Open between 11-30am and 2-30pm and 6-00pm and 1-00am
One of the new additions to the Saigon Skyline is the wonderful 31 storey Pulman Hotel that can be found on Tran Hung Dao, adjacent to the famous Bui Vien, Backpacker street and close to Ben Thanh Market. The hotel is a flamboyant glass tower that dominates the area. At night its purple lighting is a striking feature in an vibrant area.
The Cobalt Bar is spread over the 30th and 31st floors serving fabulous cocktails and cutting edge fusion cuisine. Specialities include oxygen foam cocktails and in their own words ‘adult ice blocks’. Whilst from the restaurant the modular cuisine includes nitrogen ice cream. This is an ultra-modern space and is already becoming popular with Saigon’s jet setters. It is flashy, but there’s nothing wrong with that.
This is a great place for viewing the Saigon Skyline. Being just on the edge of the part of District 1 that has the most skyscrapers, views from Cobalt are pretty much uninterrupted in all directions. The surrounding area is a mosaic of old Saigon streets, with run down houses. It presents quite a canvas.