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A Tale of Two Resorts in Hoa Binh, Vietnam

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AsiaHoa BinhHotelsResortsReviewsViet Nam
Article author: michael
michael
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You know, sometimes when travelling, you end up in the most amazing hotel. One that’s just so incredible, so luxurious, so relaxing, that you don’t want to leave! You just want to stay there forever and live like a king (or queen!).

And then other times, you end up in a hotel that makes your jaw drop … but for all the wrong reasons. You know, the kind of hotel that makes you want to run away screaming, and never look back! 😱😱

This post is about two such hotels, both of which we stayed at during our recent trip in Kim Bôi, Hòa Bình, Vietnam.

Hòa Bình, Vietnam

Hòa Bình is a province in the north of Vietnam, about 2 hours drive from Hanoi. It’s a mountainous region, with lots of beautiful scenery, and is a popular destination for Vietnamese tourists.

Hoa Binh
Image Credit: vietnamonline.com
Hoa Binh
Image Credit: Gió Đông

As a foreigner though, if you’re like me at least, you’ve likely never heard of the area. You’re also not likely to find many other foreigners here, as most of the tourists are Vietnamese, and you’ll find that very few people speak English. This can make it a bit difficult to get around, but not impossible. Just understand that the area, as such, will be more catered towards Vietnamese tourists, and Vietnamese tastes.

Our Hotels

My wife has been to Hòa Bình before on several occasions for business conferences, and wanted to book us a few nights at an amazing resort she had stayed at in the Kim Bôi district while at the conferences. She had told me about it, and I was really looking forward to it.

This time around in Vietnam, we were taking a more relaxed, leisurely approach to our travels, and as such didn’t plan or book anything in advance. This is a great way to do things if you want your travels to be more flexible, but it also means you can’t always get the best deals, or book the venues you really want.

This is exactly what happened to us for our stay in Kim Bôi, as the resort my wife wanted to book was only available for one night. My wife really wanted to do 3 days, 2 nights in Kim Bôi though, so she ended booking two different hotels. The 1st of which was …

Trung tâm Điều dưỡng Người có công Kim Bôi Resort

Holy crap, that’s a mouthful!

Resort Entrance

If there’s one thing I think I’ve noticed throughout my travels in Vietnam, it’s that if a hotel or venue’s name is more than a few syllables long, it’s probably not going to be a great experience.

Actually, if you throw the name of this place in Google translate, the words “Trung tâm Điều dưỡng Người có công Kim Bôi” translate to “Kim Bôi People’s Convalescence Center”. So … yeah, that should tell you something right there, but apparently it didn’t tell my wife, who’s fluent in Vietnamese, that we should stay away! 😑

Initially though, it didn’t look that bad.

The Resort Grounds

Resort Grounds

But after we parked, and walked over to the actual building, I started wondering what we’d signed up for!

Resort Building

Resort Building

Where exactly were we staying? Was this really a hotel? It looked more like a hospital, or a military compound, or a prison, or something.

The Hotel Room

The hotel room

The hotel room

The entire place, including the rooms, were very tired looking, and in desperate need of renovation. The beds were hard as a rock, which I guess isn’t much of a surprise as that seems to be typical in Vietnam.

There was mould on the wall connected to the bathroom …

The hotel room

and in the bathroom as well. And when we arrived, the rooms also reeked of cigarette smoke! 🤢
Besides the mould in the bathroom, the bathroom itself was also really dirty in general.

The hotel room

The hotel room

I think the only decent thing was the view, but which was only visible through a narrow, small balcony, and only when the single, old balcony door was open.

The hotel room

The hotel room

If that wasn’t awesome enough, when I woke up the following morning, I realized my toiletries bag was full of tiny ants. I killed about 15 or so before deciding to just give up and toss the toiletries bag in the trash.

The Pool

The resort also has a swimming pool, which I was apprehensive about using considering the state of the rooms, but my wife and kids wanted to swim, so we went down to check it out.

You actually need to pay to use the pool, which is a bit strange considering it’s part of the resort, but it’s only 50,000 VND per person, so it’s not too bad. That said, no big surprise, but the pool was old and dingy looking, and the water was quite murky.

The hotel pool

Verdict

Trung tâm Điều dưỡng Người có công Kim Bôi isn’t a resort/hotel I was able to find on the main sites like Booking.com or Agoda, so I’m not sure how my wife found it. I’m guessing it’s more of a local place, and so it’s not really geared towards foreigners, so you probably don’t have to worry about accidentally booking it. But if you do, I’d recommend cancelling your booking and finding somewhere else to stay! 😂

My rating: ⭐ (1/5 stars) … and that’s being generous!

Serena Kim Bôi Resort

Serena Kim Boi Entrance

Now, while our 1st day and night in Kim Bôi was a bit of a disaster, our next couple of days were about to get much better.

The Resort Grounds

Right from our drive in to Serena Resort, you knew this wasn’t going to be some rinky-dink, run down, convalescent home! 😂

The entrance to the main lobby is really chic, both outside and in, and the grounds are beautifully manicured. And what looks like grass outside the main entrance, is actually rice!

Serena Kim Boi entrance

Serena Kim Boi entrance

Serena Kim Boi entrance

The Hotel Lobby

Serena Kim Boi lobby

Serena Kim Boi lobby

Right next to the main lobby area, and on the way to the restaurant, there’s a nice indoor play area for children. Inside the play area, there’s an area filled with those plastic balls that kids love to jump into, a few little ride-on toys, and some tables and crayons as well.

Serena Kim Boi kids play area

After checking in, we had a golf-cart ride bring us to a path that led to our room, which was a nice touch. The rooms are all directly accessible from the outside, so you don’t have to go through a lobby or anything to get to your room.

Serena Kim Boi grounds

Serena Kim Boi grounds

Serena Kim Boi grounds

And the hotel grounds are even more gorgeous and elegant at night!

Serena Kim Boi grounds

Serena Kim Boi grounds

The Hotel Room

The room itself was really nice and clean, and didn’t smell like cigarette smoke! 😏

Unfortunately, being a last-minute booking, we weren’t able to get a room with a king bed.

Serena Kim Boi room

No matter though, as it didn’t stop us from loving the room, and the hotel in general. The room was very spacious, and had a nice balcony with a view of the mountains.

Serena Kim Boi room

Serena Kim Boi room

The bathroom was probably the most elegant and chic part of the room, with a nice big counter, huge marble (or is that granite?) tile shower, and plenty of space in general.

Serena Kim Boi bathroom

Serena Kim Boi bathroom

Serena Kim Boi bathroom

The Pools

The pools, yes that’s pools plural, were friggin gorgeous!

The main one, outside, is an infinity pool that looks out towards the mountains. It’s a really big pool, which wraps around the trees you see in the right of the pic below, and has a nice shallow section for kids to play in, with a couple of water slides.

Serena Kim Boi pools

Serena Kim Boi pools

Serena Kim Boi pools

And the 2nd pool, which is a heated pool and semi-indoors, is right next to the outdoor pool.

Serena Kim Boi pools

It’s also quite big, with another shallow section for children, and some hot-water waterfalls at the opposite end (which you can’t really make out in the pic above).

Both pools were fantastic, and we had a blast swimming in them. There’s also apparently a Japanese-style onsen, but we somehow managed to miss it. 😕

The Restaurant

And last but not least, the restaurant was also really nice, with a great selection of food, and more nice views of the mountains.

Serena Kim Boi restaurant

Verdict

At the beginning of this post I talked about how sometimes when travelling, you end up in a hotel that’s just so incredible, so luxurious, so relaxing, that you don’t want to leave. Well, Serena Kim Bôi Resort is definitely one of those hotels. And I’m not just saying that because of how bad the 1st hotel was. Even if we had only stayed at Serena Resort, I’d still be saying the same thing. It was that fantastic, and I was legit sad to leave.

If you’re in or around Hòa Bình, and looking for a really relaxing and luxurious place to stay, I absolutely recommend Serena Kim Bôi Resort. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s worth it!

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5 stars)!

Until next time,
michael 😀

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