Looking for a luxury boutique hotel in Saigon but want to get out of District 1? Look no further than Villa Song, a beautiful converted mansion where the walls are adorned with art and the spiralling staircases make you dream of days gone by. Even though you’re only a short transfer back to District 1, this place feels a million miles away; a riverside escape that’s still close to the heart of the city.
The design is clean and fresh, full of natural sunlight and breezes; it’s a place where you can’t help but feel at ease. Graced with a huge outdoor pool where you can soak up the sunshine and enjoy the peace and quiet, it really feels like a long way from the bustling energy of central Saigon, but if you can drag yourself away, it’s only a short transfer to all the sights you might want to tick off during your visit.
There’s a choice of different rooms which are all decorated in similar but differing styles, the common theme drawing them together though is a peaceful, restful ambience with a touch of modernity and a hint of traditional Vietnam. Every room and corridor features original photographs and paintings which brings life into each space; it’s an easy place to lose time reading a book or contemplating life.
You can probably guess that we loved our stay at Villa Song, for the environment it created, but it also scored points with us for the food which just so happens to be something to write home about.
The Vegan Food
Top marks were quickly awarded to the Villa Song team who presented us with their vegan menu covering both breakfast options and choices for dinner in their riverside restaurant. A simple touch but one that showed us they had thought about how they would look after us as vegan guests.
At breakfast we opted for traditional Vietnamese Pho but there were also good ‘western’ breakfast options. Our pho offered a healthy and start to the day with noodles vegetables, tofu and a light vegan broth. We added our own choice of fresh herbs from the bouquet on offer, spiced it up with some fresh chilli and added a squeeze of lime for a dish that matched perfectly to our taste.
You’ve got to love that kind of start to the day?
No breakfast is complete without a good vegan coffee (not always easy to find in Vietnam) and we were happy to enjoy creamy soya cappuccinos, along with freshly squeezed orange juice and a seasonal fruit platter.
After days spent lounging, swimming or venturing out to go sightseeing in the city, we ate dinner at Bistro Song Vie and were wonderfully surprised with a mix of Vietnamese and Western dishes that had a touch of fine dining about their creation.
Fresh from the oven, our bread was served with a deliiocusly rich tomato, onion, herb and olive oil dip that transported us to the medditeranean.
The next food highlight came with our soup course, a smooth, velvety beetroot soup with herbed croutons and delightful pepper flavours. Rich in colour, rich in flavour… if we weren’t in a restaurant we’d have bathed in this soup.
And then came the gnocchi. Freshly crafted in the kitchen, the plate was full of soft pillow like dumplings covered in another fabulously rich tomato sauce. Every bite melted; bliss twinged with sadness that they were disappearing with every pleasureable “mmm…”.
With a more fine-dining twist, the understated ‘Grilled Vegetable Platter’ was a perfect showcase of how a good chef can make exceptional food by using fresh, good quality, simple ingredients and turn them into something special. Rich red wine aromas lingered from the onion confit that filled the ‘zucchini boat’, more velvet like food was enjoyed with the carrot puree contrasting perfectly with the textures of the salad, pan-seared bok choi, and grilled pumpkin wedges. Add a roasted tomato stuffed with wasabi edamame mash and this symphony of plant-based ingredients was complete, and absolutely delicious.
The Vegan Essentials
The amenities provided were from the ‘Harmonie’ range made by Rendezvous, all made from natural plant-based ingredients with no “harmful chemicals such as SLS or parabens”. A quick search on the parent company’s website revealed that they won an award for developing alternative methods to animal testing so although there was no ‘not tested on animals’ label on the bottles, it is safe to assume they weren’t from the information gathered.
There was a synthetic pillow on offer making our already comfortable bed feather-free too.
There was a spa on site with a range of treatments, explain you are vegan when booking to select a treatment using products that are suitable.
The Vegan Food Quest Verdict
Book a stay at Villa Song for a rejuvenating stay away from the city (but still within easy access) and rest easily knowing you have everything you need at hand, from a fresh and delicious breakfast in the morning, to dinner at Bistro Song Vie where you can enjoy some excellent quality vegan food in a great riverside setting.
We were guests of Villa Song but please rest assured that their generosity in hosting us didn’t influence our views
197/2 Nguyen Van Huong Street
Ho Chi Minh City
Telephone: +84-8-3744 6090
Cost From: £140 / $210 per night (Sept 2015)