The Myst Dong Khoi, Saigon

First published May 2017 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle

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I wanted to visit The Myst Dong Khoi, a new hotel in downtown Saigon, before it was even finished. While it was under construction, its unusual, enigmatic appearance caught my eye. Then, when it opened, it was the name that intrigued and excited me: The Myst. I had to visit, had to stay here and write about it. The Myst is a brand new, quirky, yet elegant and comfortable, high-end hotel in the centre of town. From its perplexing, asymmetrical exterior to its eccentric and stylish interiors, the Myst is a unique, bold, concept-driven boutique accommodation. A theme runs throughout The Myst: an idea that the hotel stands for. Personally, I interpret this theme as: Hidden Corners of Old Saigon. As such, The Myst really stands out among the growing number of bland, boring luxury hotels that surround it. [Average rates are between $100-$140 a night. To check current rates, availability & make a reservation for The Myst Dong Khoi 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.

The Myst Dong Khoi hotel, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh CityBold & eccentric, elegant & stylish: The Myst Dong Khoi is a unique boutique hotel in downtown Saigon

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REVIEW: THE MYST DONG KHOI


Address: 6-8 Ho Huan Nghiep Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City [MAP]

Price: $100-$140 | Phone: (+84) 8 3520 3040 | www.themystdongkhoihotel.com

BOOK HERE


MAP:

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Located on narrow Ho Huan Nghiep Street in the heart of Saigon’s downtown District 1, The Myst Dong Khoi is a white-painted, 14 storey structure punctured by dozens of irregularly shaped windows. From the outside, it looks like the pieces of a child’s puzzle, or the honeycombed facade of an ancient burial ground where tombs have been hewn out of a rock face. It’s not necessarily a pretty sight, but it’s certainly a unique and intriguing one: what could this strange, unfathomable structure be, and how does it function? Another thing that grabs your attention about The Myst, is the shower of greenery cascading down the facade of the building from all the potted plants, creepers, and bougainvillea on the balconies. It’s a striking sight (at night it’s beautiful and mysterious) and sets the tone for what awaits you inside the hotel.

The Myst Dong Khoi hotel, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh CityEnigma: from the outside The Myst is a jumble of asymmetrical windows, angles & showers of greenery

The entrance is also the site of the hotel’s Bason Cafe. Named after the old naval shipyard (just up the Saigon River from here) that was recently demolished to make way for a new apartment development, the cafe is replete with maritime artifacts, all of which were salvaged from the shipyard before it was torn down. A large anchor hangs from the wall, bearing down on attractive wooden furniture arranged in the shade under plants and flowers dripping from a couple of suspended wooden canoes. Inside, the lobby and concierge is a strangely confusing space. There’s no high-ceilinged hall hung with elaborate chandeliers (as there is in many similarly-priced Saigon hotels); instead, a slender desk at the end of a hall beneath a low ceiling fashioned from more Bason shipyard objects – French colonial-era tiles and rusting iron girders – is where reception staff greet you and serve the welcome drink. With Cham sculptures of Hindu deities lining the hall, I find it rather confusing, both practically and aesthetically: it feels more like a museum. But it certainly makes a change from the generic Saigon hotel lobby, most of which feel as though they’ve been ordered out of a catalogue.

The Myst Dong Khoi hotel, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh CityThe Bason Cafe, named after the old shipyard (now demolished), is furnished with salvaged objects

Elevators (rather small ones) take you up to the rooms, which are arranged along deliberately wonky corridors painted in light pastel tones. All rooms have windows and balconies which either look over the sweep of the Saigon River or across the city to the high-rises and rooftops of downtown. Plants grow from every window and balcony at The Myst. This is a wonderful idea, however it does obscure the views slightly.

The Myst Dong Khoi hotel, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh CityRiver views are excellent although partially obscured by the foliage which cascades down the exterior

Balconies are furnished with wooden rocking chairs, tree trunk stools, and outside stone bathtubs (a very nice touch but, with several high storey office blocks surrounding the hotel, it can be a bit public. Also, the roar of the city is loud and the heat of Saigon is such that a hot bath outdoors may not appeal to you – but, personally, I really enjoyed it). However, privacy won’t be an issue for long, because all balconies are caged in with floral-patterned railings acting as trellises for the cascading foliage to grow over: pretty soon the greenery will provide a screen behind which you can bathe in private. 

The Myst Dong Khoi hotel, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh CityBalcony bathtubs are a nice touch, even if it is a little hot, humid and public out there

There are four main room types – Dong Khoi, Saigon City, Verdant Calm, and Serene Corner Suites – all ranging from 40m²-50m² and between $100-$150 per night (however, read the details carefully, because sometimes the lower rates do not include breakfast). Room size, design, decor and comfort are excellent. There’s a lot of dark, heavy, real wood in the rooms – floorboards, wardrobes, desks, chests, stools, chairs, benches, lamps, mirrors, curtain rails. The colours are muted Vietnamese imperial tones: purples, oranges, blues, yellows. It’s not garish or vulgar; it’s very, very tasteful, serene, and controlled. But at the same time it’s eccentric and playful: floral patterns are carved into some of the furniture, ceramics and plant pots adorn tabletops, wrought iron motifs and stained glass windows decorate the walls. Stylistically it’s urban-chic meets William Morris, Art Nouveau meets traditional Saigon.

The Myst Dong Khoi hotel, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh CityStyle & elegance: there’s a lot of wooden furniture in the rooms, pastel tones & floral motifs

Most guest rooms are open-plan – with arches rather than walls, and furniture rather than partitions, separating the different parts of the room – which makes them bright, homey, and spacious. Beds are large and soft with big pillows, and, as well as the outside bathtub, there’s a separate shower room and toilet. The decor and design is deliberately asymmetrical – ceilings are at different heights, walls are at different angles – so as to give the impression of individuality and not to appear too neat and generic. The effect is the feeling that, despite being in a hundred-and-something room hotel, your room is not the same as your neighbour’s. This is something that Ho Tram Beach Boutique also succeeds in doing. The aesthetic is very refined without taking itself too seriously. Most importantly, the rooms are lovely, cosy, comfortable, attractive, and cool places to be.

The Myst Dong Khoi hotel, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh CityComfortable & unique: guest rooms feel as though they have a personal touch; not generic

The Myst is part of the Silverland hospitality empire. They have lots of good quality properties in the nearby area, including the Jolie. But The Myst feels different: the other Silverland hotels are decorated in a Japanese-chic-meets-French-colonial style. The Myst is the only one that takes its inspiration from Saigon, more specifically a nostalgic fantasy of ‘old and hidden Saigon’. This is a concept that’s been growing steadily with the rapid modernization of the city. Saigon cafe culture in particular is all about a longing for the past.

The Myst Dong Khoi hotel, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh CityPenchant for the past: a nostalgia for ‘old Saigon’ is a theme that runs throughout The Myst

But it’s not just fantasy: pockets of old Saigon still live on – intriguing old apartment buildings with crumbling shopfronts connected by narrow, twisting stairwells with pale painted walls and peeling plaster; a maze of mezzanine floors and a labyrinth of antechambers. Some of these have been colonized by cafes and fashion boutiques, and become trendy icons of old Saigon, not least the Cafe Apartment at No.42 Nguyen Hue Street (the back of which can be seen from the south-facing windows of The Myst). And it is this aesthetic that I think The Myst is trying to recreate. The excitement of an old, enigmatic building; a warren of corridors waiting to be explored, revealing its secrets little by little, but remaining unfathomable, from the outside and in.

The Myst Dong Khoi hotel, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh CityHidden: The Myst captures the feeling of discovery & excitement you get when exploring ‘old Saigon’

This is all the more poignant because it comes at a time when the Cafe Apartment and other buildings like it are under serious threat from local authorities: it seems inevitable that they will soon go the way of the Bason Shipyard and be demolished. The Myst, with it’s mysterious exterior and asymmetrical interiors, old and salvaged objects, and emphasis on the past, the ‘hidden’ and the ‘secret’, is trying to emulate the essence of what most appeals to people about these emblems of ‘old Saigon’.

The Myst Dong Khoi hotel, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh CityAlcoves & antique objects, circles & squares, arches & angles: The Myst creates a sense of mystery

The Nest Restaurant, on the 12th floor is a wide, bright space with good-looking wooden dining tables and chairs, and outside patios with potted plants and river views. This is where the buffet breakfast is served, from 6am-10am, much of which is displayed in a life-sized traditional Vietnamese wooden fishing canoe. The quality is mostly good, especially the fresh juices, smoked salmon, and large selection of hot dishes. Get here early and enjoy your breakfast out on the terrace before the sun rises too high over the Saigon River and it becomes too hot to be outside. Complimentary afternoon tea is served from 3pm-5pm daily, and includes cakes, sandwiches, and Vietnamese delicacies. Food and drink is served throughout the day (there’s a short but decent à la carte menu with Vietnamese and Western dishes) during which time the restaurant is usually very quiet. However, the peace might be disturbed over the next few months due to the construction of the Hilton hotel next door. This is something you might also want to consider when booking your room: many east-facing river view rooms will soon be Hilton view rooms, and, in the meantime, the noise from the building site may be a nuisance.

The Myst Dong Khoi hotel, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh CityBreakfast with river views at The Nest Restaurant: get here early, before the sun gets too hot

Behind the restaurant, a small lift leads up to the 14th floor rooftop Bar Bleu and infinity pool. This is a signature of Silverland hotels, but the rooftop pool (like the rooftop bar before it) has become the thing for all self-respecting high-end hotels in Saigon these days. Bar Bleu occupies a covered terrace shaded at the sides by foliage and furnished with elegant wooden chairs and stools. The city views are fantastic: to the east, the broad sweep of the Saigon River; to the south and west, the glittering, glassy high-rises of downtown District 1 – shining like Samurai swords in the sun – and between them, way down at street level, the red-tiled rooftops of ‘old Saigon’. Cocktails are good but pricey.

The Myst Dong Khoi hotel, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh CityThe rooftop Bar Bleu has fabulous city & river views & good but pricey cocktails & snacks

The bar opens out onto a wooden deck with blue loungers and gazebos sunk into the shallow end of the pool, surrounded by bougainvillea and frangipani trees. The pool is long by city rooftop standards (about 15m by my reckoning, although 24m according to the hotel – they must be taking into account the ‘L’ shape). This makes it just about swimmable, but because it’s quite narrow it can feel crowded even when there’s only a few people in it. However, it’s great for plunging, dipping, hanging out and cooling off, and kids love it too. There’s a small gym above the pool and I’m told a spa is on the way. It’s a stylish set-up, but it’s often ruined by ludicrously loud pop music.

The Myst Dong Khoi hotel, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh CityThe rooftop infintiy pool at The Myst is long & narrow with an attractive wooden deck & good views

The Myst is right at the heart of central Saigon. Narrow Ho Huan Nghiep Street, dwarfed by high-rises, connects to the boutique-lined, increasingly plush (and horrifically overpriced) Dong Khoi Street. This shady avenue leads all the way up to French colonial landmarks such as the Saigon Opera House and Notre Dame Cathedral. Branching west from the Opera House, Le Loi Boulevard stretches to the famous Ben Thanh Market. However, much of this street is a building site at the moment, due to the construction of the Saigon metro. So it’s a better idea to spend time on Nguyen Hue Walking Street, promenading in the cooler evening air and paying a visit to the Cafe Apartment (which is the kind of old Saigon edifice that The Myst harks back to). Nearby restaurants tend to be too snazzy, pricey and international for my tastes: much better to head along the riverfront and over the bridge to District 4’s Vinh Khanh Street, a notoriously fun and tasty food street, famous for its shellfish among other things.

The Myst Dong Khoi hotel, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh CityView from The Myst: right in the heart of downtown Saigon, the river & many landmarks are close by

The Myst is a breath of fresh air in a forest of increasingly homogeneous hotels in downtown Saigon. Unlike the latter, if you stay at The Myst you’ll remember it: this is a hotel that adds to your experience of the city. I had a lot of fun getting to know The Myst during my stay: trying to work it out, explore and understand it, just like I would with an old Saigon building like the Cafe Apartment. Above all, The Myst is a very comfortable, stylish, exciting, and unique place to stay. [Average rates are between $100-$140 a night. To check current rates, availability & make a reservation for The Myst 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.

The Myst Dong Khoi hotel, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh CityThe Myst is a breath of fresh air is a forest of increasingly homogeneous hotels in downtown Saigon

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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2 Responses to The Myst Dong Khoi, Saigon

  1. Clair says:

    Great comprehensive review as always!
    I’m wondering if your concerns about the construction noise etc., from the Hilton will be an issue by late December?

    • Hi Clair,

      It’s difficult to say for certain – it depends what kind of structure they are building. However, it wouldn’t really be an issue as long as you get a south or west facing room.

      It’s a great place to stay in my opinion.

      Tom

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