Concierge.com's insider take:
Five minutes from the Mekong River in the heart of Luang Prabang's World Heritage site, the 120-year-old residence of Princess Manilai is decorated in simple French colonial style, with rosewood furniture, Lao silks, and antiques. The 25 rooms are clean and large, with fresh fruit delivered daily, and the hotel's popular Princess Restaurant serves outstanding Lao food. In 2002, the owners added the 52-room Villa Santi Resort & Spa amid rice fields four miles south of the old quarter. The on-site spa and pool complement the more rural setting, but a shuttle van relieves isolation with frequent runs into town. The staff at both places speak at least a few words of English, and are skilled at arranging tours for guests.