The Northern Hotel, Saigon

First published January 2016 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle

INTRODUCTION | REVIEW | MAP | RELATED POSTS

In the shadow of downtown Saigon’s high-rises, the Northern Hotel sits on a quiet street in the affluent yet quirky enclave known as the Japanese district. Literally a 5 minute walk from such major landmarks as the Opera House and the Saigon River, the Northern Hotel offers very comfortable accommodation without the pretensions of a boutique hotel and without the price-tag of a luxury hotel. Cosy rooms, courteous staff, and a central location make the Northern Hotel a good choice for travellers or business people on a mid-range budget.

*Support Vietnam Coracle: please consider booking your hotels via the Agoda search boxes on my site. I receive a small commission for any booking (at no extra cost to you) which goes a long way to keeping this site up & running. Don’t worry, I never write a review for money & all my content is free & independent. Thank you!

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The Northern Hotel, Saigon, VietnamGuest room at the Northern Hotel: a good mid-range option in the centre of town

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REVIEW: NORTHERN HOTEL, SAIGON

Address: 11A Thi Sach Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City [MAP| Price: $60-110 per night 

Phone: (84 8) 38 251 751) | Website: www.saigon.northernhotel.com

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Towards the south end of Thi Sach Street, the Northern Hotel used to have the immediate vicinity pretty much to itself. However, over the last few years, the glut of mid-range hotels at the north end of Thi Sach has pushed development further down the street. The Northern Hotel is now flanked by another (almost identical) hotel and the foundations of yet another one are under construction. However, it’s strangely quiet and calm at this end of the street, especially considering how close it is to downtown’s major thoroughfares.

Thi Sach Street, Saigon, VietnamThe Northern Hotel vicinity: hotel construction on Thi Sach Street has taken off in recent years

Like many parts of Saigon, this street is a mishmash of development and decay: tamarind and copperpod trees line the cracked pavements; plush Korean and Japanese restaurants vie for space with seedy massage parlours and beer dens, where old men drink away the remains of the day. Meanwhile, Saigon’s most famous (and worse) club, Apocalypse Now, is located at the very end of the street (don’t worry, you’d never know it once you’re in your hotel room). The Northern Hotel itself, is a generic twelve storey tower with square windows that certainly isn’t going to win any architectural prizes.

The Northern Hotel, Saigon, VietnamThe exterior of the Northern Hotel: it’s no architectural masterpiece

Inside, the lobby tries very hard to make up for the blandness of the exterior: leather sofas, shiny concierge desk, marble and glass surfaces, and attempts at grandeur in the form of sparkling chandeliers and a grand piano. The Lobby Bar, to the right of the entrance, is a nice place for a coffee or a nightcap: decent quality cocktails cost around 100,000vnđ ($5). Staff, who are predominantly male, are very calm, courteous and well-trained.

The Lobby Bar, Northern Hotel, Saigon, VietnamThe Lobby Bar at the Northern Hotel: a nice, bright place for a drink

There are 99 guest rooms, on twelve floors, served by two elevators at the Northern Hotel. All rooms have large windows, but ask for a high floor so that you’ll get a better view. Also, consider upgrading (or asking upon arrival for a free upgrade if they don’t appear to be busy) from Superior to Deluxe: the latter are corner rooms with wraparound windows so they are full of natural light and have the best views.

Deluxe guest room, Northern Hotel, Saigon, VietnamDeluxe rooms, like this one, have plenty of natural light thanks to wraparound windows

The city views from guest rooms are very interesting if not especially beautiful. What you see from your room is an absorbing mixture of old and new buildings, construction and demolition, greenery and concrete, order and chaos. It’s a perfect cross-section of a rapidly developing Asian megalopolis.

View from a guest room, Northern Hotel, Saigon, VietnamThe view from a guest room on a high floor of the Northern Hotel

However, the biggest mistake at the Northern Hotel is not utilizing their rooftop. By now, most good hotels in Saigon have realized the potential of this space: rooftop bars, pools, restaurants, gardens, Jacuzzis – all with panoramic views of the city and, most importantly in a city as busy and humid as Saigon, lots of space and air – have sprung up all over town. A quick walk up to the twelfth floor reveals the kind of prospect you’d get from a rooftop bar at the Northern Hotel, if it existed.

View from the top of the Northern Hotel, Saigon, VietnamMissed oportunity: view from the top floor of the Northern Hotel, where the rooftop bar should be

The rooms at the Northern Hotel are its greatest strength: they are excellent. Large, bright, cosy, well-equipped, immaculately clean – they are more like the master bedroom in a plush condo than a hotel guest room. The furniture is plain but tasteful and comfortable. There’s no excess, no pretension, no glitter. It’s spare but snug.

Guest room at the Northern Hotel, Saigon, VietnamSpare but snug: the rooms at the Northern Hotel are its greatest strength

Amenities include tea and coffee making facilities, flat-screen TV, sofa, large bathtub and all the other conveniences you’d expect from an international standard 3 star hotel. These are the kind of guest rooms that you look forward to returning to after a day of sightseeing or a night out: it’s a very nice place to be.

Guest room at the Northern Hotel, Saigon, VietnamGuest rooms at the Northern Hotel are large, bright, comfy and cosy

Apart from being very close to popular tourist haunts, such as the Opera House and Dong Khoi Street, the Northern Hotel is part of an intriguing area known as the Japanese district. The web of alleyways between the corner of Thai Van Lung and Le Thanh Ton are a 5 minute walk from the hotel. These narrow streets are hung with lanterns and lined with quirky shops, restaurants and bars. Popular with the city’s Japanese and Korean expat community, there’s a boutiquey collection of ramen noodle houses, saké bars, cafes, street art, and cutesy trinket shops: it really does feel like being in the backstreets of a Japanese city. Needless to say, this is a great place to sample some relatively inexpensive Northeast Asian cuisine.

Alleys in the Japanese district, Saigon, VietnamTake a stroll down the affluent alleyways of the ‘Japanese district’ close to the Northern Hotel

A buffet breakfast is included in the price at the Northern Hotel. Served in the restaurant on the mezzanine floor overlooking the lobby, it’s a satisfying selection of Western and Asian fare that will set you up nicely for the day. Hotel guests are a mixture of Asian business people and European travellers. The Northern Hotel is similar in price and style to Edenstar Hotel. The rooms are better at the Northern and the location is more central, but it lacks the rooftop bar and pool of Edenstar. There is also a new Northern Hotel in Danang which is cut above its older sister in Saigon.

*Support Vietnam Coracle: please consider booking your hotels via the Agoda search boxes on my site. I receive a small commission for any booking (at no extra cost to you) which goes a long way to keeping this site up & running. Don’t worry, I never write a review for money & all my content is free & independent. Thank you!

Check Rates & Availability for the Northern Hotel:

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MAP:

The Northern Hotel, Saigon

View in a LARGER MAP

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

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RELATED POSTS:


EDENSTAR HOTEL, SAIGON:
Quality mid-range accommodation with a rooftop pool….read more

Edenstar Hotel, Saigon, Vietnam


MA MAISON BOUTIQUE HOTEL, SAIGON:
Cosy, French Provençial boutique in a local neighbourhood….read more

Ma Maison Boutique Hotel, Saigon, Vietnam


THE HANOI IMPRESSIVE HOTEL:
Excellent mid-range digs in a classy part of town….read more

Hanoi Impressive Hotel, Vietnam

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