Bespoke dress from AoBaBa. Shot taken at the Nam Hai Hotel
I'm not sure if it was the feng shui designed black lacquer, grey marble sophistication or the scent of jasmine that infused every corner of the hotel, but something of The Nam Hai Hotel in Hoi An, Vietnam has never left me, in spite of it being over a year since I was there.
Accommodation is in one of 100 stand alone villas spread out along the Eastern Sea which you can access on a bike, golf buggy or even foot if you prefer. Stepping inside your villa is like stepping inside a jewel box. Black lacquer floors meet cut-work doors and step down to a sitting area that opens onto a private patio. Choose between an indoor or outdoor shower or bathe in a standalone bath set behind the bed. Beds are swathed with white silk curtains.
When you can drag yourself away from the peace of your villa, find your inner zen in a yoga class under a ceiling of red lanterns or dip into one of the slate lined pools that stretch to infinity.
Pools at the Nam Hai
Read more about the Nam Hai at Mr and Mrs Smith.
[Please note, the Nam Hai is being renovated between 1 August and 20 December 2016. It's hard to imagine why, since it looked pretty well darn perfect to me, but good to have a reason to go back again and see what they've done.]
When you get sick of lying by the zen pool, or having a treatment in the spa pavilion in the middle of a water lotus pond (ha, not likely), you might suddenly remember that you loved Graham Greene's The Quiet American, and you read somewhere that the movie was set in Hoi An, and you know that Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage site, which means it's spectacularly beautiful and you need to drag yourself away from all the perfection of the Nam Hai and go check it out for yourself.
While you are getting changed out of your Alexandria Main pool robe to catch the shuttle 15 minutes into town, you might start thinking about what you want to get made at one of the famed Hoi An tailors. Because there's nothing like a bespoke tailor-made garment to make you feel special. I've only been to the one tailor - AoBaBa - but it's the only one I needed to know. Hannah at AoBaBa speaks perfect English and is charming and sweet and they will whip up a frock in 24 hours if you need it. They are priced around $80 - $120 AUD. You can either take something you want copied, or you can choose from a selection of styles they have on the rack. Once they had my measurements I also sent fabric and images up from Australia and they made them up and shipped back in a matter of weeks.
What: Nam Hai Hotel, Hoi An, Vietnam
Room rate: From $800 AUD per night
Why: If you like your hotels sophisticated and zen
How to get there: Fly to Da Nang and it's around a 30 minute car trip
Trying on frocks at Aobaba
Inside the villas at the Nam Hai
Library at the Nam Hai. Here's the visual. Now you just need to imagine the smell of tropical jasmine and you're nearly there.
Night lamps lead to the beach at the Nam Hai
Outdoor shower at a villa at The Nam Hai Hotel