Aira Boutique Sapa Hotel & Spa

First published March 2018 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle

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The town of Sapa is currently such a mess – construction, dust, traffic, and tourist tat – that the main reason for being in Sapa (as opposed to the countryside around it) is to stay in a good hotel with splendid views of the mountains surrounding the town, which is, after all, the reason Sapa became such a popular travel destination in the first place. Aira Boutique is one such hotel. On the edge of town, Aira Boutique is a brightly-painted, alpine-style lodge affording spectacular vistas across the plunging, mist-filled valley, with the jagged peak of Mount Fansipan casting a long shadow over the scene. This alone would be enough to recommend Aira Boutique, but plenty of other hotels in Sapa boast similar views. However, Aira is also a stylish, comfortable, homey and well-equipped hotel. With a swimming pool, large cosy rooms with balconies, tasteful decor, and a decent restaurant and bar, Aira Boutique is up there with the best of Sapa’s higher-end accommodations. [Average rates are $80-$110. To check availability & make a reservation for Aira Boutique Hotel please BOOK HERE]

*Please support Vietnam Coracle: I never write a review for money: all my content is free & my reviews are independent. You can support the work I do by booking your hotels via the Agoda links & search boxes on my site, like the ones on this page. If you make a booking, I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). Any money I make goes straight back into this site. Thank you.

Aira Boutique Sapa Hotel & Spa, Lao Cai, VietnamOn the edge of town, Aira Boutique Hotel & Spa has great views over Sapa & the surrounding mountains

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REVIEW: AIRA BOUTIQUE SAPA


Address: 30 Hoang Lien Street, Sapa, Lao Cai Province, Vietnam [MAP]

Average Price: $80-$110 | Website: www.airaboutiquesapa.com

BOOK HERE


MAP:

View in a LARGER MAP


I stayed at Aira Boutique with a good friend of mine at the end of a long motorbike road trip through the northern mountains: a kind of ‘reward’ for weeks of hard riding through mud and potholes. In this respect, Aira Boutique was exactly what I was looking for. On the fringes of town, Aira is just about far enough away from Sapa’s commercial heart that it doesn’t necessarily feel part of it. And this is a good thing, because Sapa doesn’t really have a ‘local scene’ anymore (if, indeed, it ever did). I stayed at Aira precisely because I wanted to be away from all the clutter of Sapa’s main streets: I wanted the views that Sapa is famous for, but not the hassle, traffic jams, overpriced food (and general overcharging) that characterizes Sapa town. For me, Sapa is a bubble of creature comforts in the northwest highlands: it’s where I come to recharge after exploring the mountains; it’s not a place to come to experience local life: not anymore, at least.

Aira Boutique Sapa Hotel & Spa, VietnamI came to Aira for the view & for some creature comforts after weeks on a road trip in the mountains

Aira Boutique sits on a steep mountainside. From the outside, it’s bright and clean, with some exposed stonework making it look a little bit like a modern ski resort chalet. Inside, it’s really rather stylish, with lots of angles and lines offset against a curving staircases and hanging ‘birdcage’ lanterns. The colour scheme is formal and classy: deep blues, purples, and grays. It reminds me of a first-class airline lounge, only with more character. Next to the lobby and reception is the restaurant and dining room, filled with plenty of natural light (a good thing in the often foggy northwest mountains) streaming in through large windows. Several modern fireplaces are spread around the room to keep guests warm during the evenings (remember it gets cold in Sapa).

Aira Boutique Sapa Hotel & Spa, VietnamInside, Aira’s decor is really rather stylish, like this spiral staircase hung with ‘birdcage’ lanterns

Guest rooms are large, warm and comfortable. Most have balconies with big views over the mountains. This is ultimately what Sapa is all about: that view over the steep, deep valley and green, purple and blue mountains is why Sapa has become the tourist mecca it is today. And the view from Aira is superb. It’s worth the room rates and you should make the most of it: get yourself a gin and tonic, sit out on the balcony and drink in the views. But, predictably, Sapa’s building boom is already beginning to encroach on the land around Aira. During my visit, bulldozers were tearing up the pine trees on the slopes below my balcony, clearing the land for another hotel (as, no doubt, was the case during the construction of Aira, too).

Aira Boutique Sapa Hotel & Spa, VietnamSapa is all about the views across the valley to the mountains: the vistas from Aira Boutique are excellent

Room decor is a cosy mix of the same formal colour scheme and symmetrical patterns as the lobby, mixed with some embellishments inspired by the textiles of ethnic minority groups who populate the northwest mountains. This works well, although the framed photographs of smiling local faces – ‘happy poor people’ – bearing down on guests paying $100 a night for a room is jarring: tourism in Sapa in general is a catalyst for provoking contemplation on the paradoxes and pitfalls of the tourist industry. Tiled and wooden floors, soft and hard surfaces, rugs and cushions, and a general coherency in style all add up to a pleasing and cosy place to be.

Aira Boutique Sapa Hotel & Spa, VietnamRooms are very comfortable & cosy with a mixture of modern decor & traditional embellishments

The restaurant and spa are both good, but not outstanding. Prices are pretty reasonable considering you’re in a high-end hotel, so ultimately meals work out as fairly good value for money. Western and Asian dishes are available, and there’s a good cocktail list. The buffet breakfast, included in the room price, is again good, but not one that will stand out among other hotel buffet breakfasts. There’s a pool table in the bar, which, considering the amount of cold, grey, rainy days in Sapa, is very convenient: we certainly got a lot of use out of it during our stay.

Aira Boutique Sapa Hotel & Spa, VietnamThe buffet breakfast at Aira is good but not outstanding; the dining room is nice, bright & warm

Aira’s swimming pool is located on the ground floor to the side of the hotel. It’s south-facing so that it makes the most of the sun (when it shines). During our stay, Northern European tourists were sprawled out on the loungers, desperately trying to soak up the sun’s faint warmth before returning home to autumn in their home countries. The mountains are visible from the pool, but it’s also right next to the driveway, which is a shame. And, although it’s absolutely adequate for children and non-swimmers, the pool is a few metres short of being genuinely swimmable.

Aira Boutique Sapa Hotel & Spa, VietnamAira’s swimming pool is pretty good, but it’s just a few metres short of being good for swimming laps

Overall, I got exactly what I wanted (and expected) from my stay at Aira Boutique: good quality lodgings with all modern facilities (and some style to boot), a fantastic view of the mountains, and a refuge from the commercial madness of Sapa town proper. It ticked all the boxes for my ‘end of motorbike adventure reward’, and was worth the money spent, although it did nothing to relieve the sadness of parting with my good friend from the U.K with whom I had travelled. [Average rates are $80-$110 a night. To check availability & make a reservation for Aira Boutique Hotel please use the search box below or BOOK HERE].

*Please support Vietnam Coracle: I never write a review for money: all my content is free & my reviews are independent. You can support the work I do by booking your hotels via the Agoda links & search boxes on my site, like the ones on this page. If you make a booking, I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). Any money I make goes straight back into this site. Thank you.

Aira Boutique Sapa Hotel & Spa, VietnamI got what I wanted & expected from my stay at Aira: good views, modern features, style & comfort

Disclosure: I never receive payment for anything I write: my content is always free and independent. I’ve written this review because I want to: I like this hotel and I want my readers to know about it. For more details, see my Disclosure & Disclaimer statements here

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