Visiting Sapa in the summer is developing into a bit of a tradition amongst Hanoians largely to escape the heat of the capital. Recently, I joined the throngs of locals and foreign tourists for the overnight train journey up to the hills. Unfortunately, we arrived on a day of heavy rain which did not bode well in our search for a hotel. Looking like drowned rats after a few knock-backs, we found Sapa Rooms Boutique Hotel which is located close to the markets and main road. Offering great views back up to Sapa town as well as a panorama down over the rice paddies and up to the mountains, the hotel is on the road down to Cat Cat village. It is such a brilliant location and we were so glad to have found this hotel completely by chance and luckier still that they had some vacancies.
The Sapa Rooms has been thoughtfully designed with original paintings and artwork, furnished and decorated in contemporary tones with touches of local tribal culture. A feature of the comfortable lounge area is a large golden bust of ‘Uncle Ho’ which strangely did not seem out of place amongst the eclectic mix of art and handicrafts. The rooms themselves all have views – something that is imperative for a stay in the mountains, especially when you’ve come from the city. Each room has some lovely cosy features, including shaggy rugs on the floor, marvelous tall vases and books laying on the beds on arrival.
The hotel restaurant serves excellent interesting food with the menu changing regularly according to whatever seasonal organic and free range produce is available from the local suppliers. I especially loved their grilled green banana and tofu casserole, the grilled Sapa pork fillet marinated in lemon grass and the exotic side dish of grilled pineapple and chilli. Another favourite was the baked fish wrapped in banana leaf. Lunch and breakfast or drinks after a hard day trekking can be enjoyed on the outdoor terrace, perfect for a glass of crisp Australian white or a cold beer. If trekking doesn’t appeal, a lazy day with coffee and a good book can also be spent here.
I highly recommend this hotel as their staff was so helpful and friendly; I also like the fact that the owners are putting something back into the local community. They are committed to improving the living standards of ethnic minority groups by contributing to local development and education projects. The Sapa Rooms proprietors invest all of the profits from trekking for such purposes in addition to providing decent wages to the young girls they employ as guides. These girls are truly delightful and really make the whole Sapa experience worthwhile so the investment made by the hotel is already having positive impacts.