Airbnb Review: Orchid House Hoi An

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We enjoyed a leisurely afternoon in Phu Quoc before heading to the airport around 4PM for our 6PM departure to Saigon, where we’d connect to Da Nang. The Phu Quoc airport is modern and efficient, and getting there 90 minutes before departure should be sufficient in most cases. The only challenge we ran into was that for whatever reason, we couldn’t check in online for both segments. The contract check-in agent was confused by this as well, but just said we’d have to check-in again in Saigon.

Our flight ended up being delayed, and I was nervous about missing the check-in cutoff for the second flight, but when I explained the situation to the Vietnam Airlines gate agent, she called it in. The consensus was that the “system was down” and we’d just need to try later. They didn’t seem too concerned.

Ultimately, I think it may have been related to the fact that SGN doesn’t have sterile transit for domestic flights, and there being something hard-coded into the reservations system that thus separates out the flights. Once we boarded the first flight I was able to check-in for the second flight online without issue. Confusing, but not a big deal, and if it happens to you, you’re not alone. Even with the delay and having to exit the airport and go back in, we had no issues making a 60-minute connection, and even ended up waiting quite a bit for boarding.

Other than that, the two economy flights were full, short, and uneventful. Vietnam Airlines brand video that they play during each flight is charming, but otherwise there isn’t much to report.

We arrived at Da Nang Airport around 10:20PM. We were met by the driver our Airbnb hostess had arranged for us, and with no traffic it was a quick ~35 minute drive to central Hoi An.

We decided to stay in Hoi An rather than Da Nang primarily because of weather concerns — everyone cautioned that Da Nang wouldn’t be warm enough to enjoy the beach in February, so we figured if it was going to be too cold to swim we’d prefer being in Hoi An than at a beach hotel — but also because Hoi An just looked like the kind of place our moms would adore (and they did!). I’ll write more about Hoi An and the things we did in the next installment, but first let’s talk about the accommodations.

While Hoi An does have some upper-end hotels, there aren’t very many right in town. There’s are a handful of larger hotels, including an Anantara on the outskirts, and a gorgeous-looking Four Seasons where the river empties into the sea, but the former looked uninspiring for the price they were asking over Tet (~$300/night), and while the latter looked incredible, $800+/night hotel rooms just aren’t part of my life, especially when we’re talking about six room nights.

So I started looking at various guest houses, ultimately settling on a two-bedroom place with a shared bath that I booked through Airbnb. We paid ~$50/night total for both rooms and breakfast for four once all was said and done. So keep that $12/person price-point in mind as we go through the review here 😉 .

The “Orchid House B&B” is tucked away on a side street close to the historic center, and is run by a darling family who lives in the house as well. Hoa, her husband Chau, and their son Pro were chatty and friendly, and we very much felt like we’d been welcomed into their home.

Actually, a review is probably unnecessary, because this photo of Heather playing a gambling dice game with Pro sums everything up beautifully:

And then mom and dad joined in as well:

So that was a fun and very sweet morning.

Back to the space.

The house itself is a narrow three-story building that seems fairly recently-built, with a small garden patio in the front.

The main floor has a living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom (that the family was using as their main bathroom while we were there). Being there over Tet meant there were lots of extra decorations and bustle, which was fun.

The stairs led to the upper floors, with the middle-level being reserved for guests.

The landing had a separate sink and vanity area, with doors to both bedrooms and the shared bathroom.

Both rooms were large, had separately locking doors, and very effective air conditioners.

The beds in both rooms were large as well, though it’s worth noting they were excruciatingly firm. I prefer a firm bed (I tend to sleep on my stomach), so I was fine, but Heather and our moms were sore in the mornings.

Each room also had a table and chairs with water and tea cups, and Hoa welcomed us to help ourselves to the filtered water from the fridge or the tea downstairs.

The bathroom was tiny, but functional. The abundant supply of towels was replenished daily, as I’m pretty sure Hoa was constantly doing laundry (she offered to do some of ours as well, which was very kind).

The one thing that was sorta odd was that we couldn’t tell whether the supplies in the bathroom were meant for guests, or had been left there by the family, or what was going on.

The bathroom could have also used a good scrubbing, but as we observed just how busy Hoa was with family obligations during Tet, it made sense why there might not have been time for a deep-clean. Truly, imagine running a B&B and a small business over a Thanksgiving weekend where you’re hosting your in-laws levels of busy. Otherwise the house and bedrooms were neat and clean.

Hoa made breakfast for us each morning — she asked what we preferred but we just deferred to her — we enjoyed eggs, noodles, banh mi, and plenty of fresh fruit over our three-night stay.

She provided Nescafe and tea as well, and then Vietnamese coffee once she learned that Heather and I liked it. Apparently that came as a surprise, because as Chau remarked “It’s so strong, we say it’s only for men!”

In addition to providing a wealth of information about the town, where to eat and shop (and where to avoid), Hoa stepped in with some tailoring assistance.

Hoi An is known for its tailor shops and bespoke clothing options, but as we were there on the first few days of Tet, all of those shops were closed. When we expressed some disappointment at how we’d timed our trip, Hoa (who owns a tailor shop herself), pulled out her measuring tape and swatches and started designing things for us around her kitchen table.

So that was fun too.

The neighborhood was quiet when we were there (again, holiday time), which was a welcome respite from the crowds in the center of town. There is what looked to be a school at the end of the block, so while there might be some morning chatter, I can’t imagine it ever being too raucous.

Overall, we had a lovely stay, and I was delighted with the experience, even though the accommodations were basic. I think the price we paid was fair (we gave her a bit extra for doing the laundry, though she didn’t ask us to), and Hoa was incredibly helpful.

It’s worth reiterating that you are very much staying in a family home, which is lovely in most ways, but was also a little awkward (and fabulous) when we came back from sightseeing one night and they had a dozen family members over playing cards on the kitchen floor. I don’t think that would necessarily happen outside of Tet, but if that’s something that would bother you you’ll want to book a hotel instead. If you’re looking for grander accommodations for a less outrageous rate than the Four Seasons, the Hyatt Regency and Sheraton in Da Nang was only about 15 minutes away, so hotels in that area could be a good compromise between the two cities.

I wouldn’t necessarily stay here again myself, mostly because if I were back in the area I’d like to try some of the hotels in Da Nang, but have no hesitations in recommending this place to others. (And, if you’re new to Airbnb, you can get $40 off a home booking of $75 or more and $15 off an experience of $50 or more using our link — we get a credit as well, which we certainly appreciate.)

For those who have been to Hoi An, where have you stayed, or where would you recommend?

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Comments

  1. @Tiffany loving the reviews. It’s a great change of pace for OMAAT.

    I’m curious, when you selected your Airbnb (and I apologise if I missed this in the article), did you select “entire house” for the accommodation type? I have stayed in lots of Airbnbs all over the world, including several where the homeowners are present or right nearby, but never had one where we had shared space like you had. They’ve always had a separate entrance way or they were in the other half of a duplex, just for a few examples.

  2. @Tiffany, I am really loving these reviews.

    @John, a person’s aspirational travels are intrinsically individual. Some might prefer a low cost nice AirBNB, so that they can hold on to their points for more flights for example. Not everyone is aiming to stay at a luxury resort/hotel every night of a vacation. Furthermore, as Tiffany noted not every destination worth traveling to has a points associated hotel.

  3. Stayed at the Intercontinental DaNang when I was there – truly spectacular hotel – beautiful rooms and facilities. Drawback is that it is about 45 mins to an hour from Hoi An – which is absolutely a delight and worth the trek (hotel did provide a free shuttle, though). And since the Intercont is a bit secluded, you are resort captive with prices to match. Da Nang as a city was also worth visiting – the modern city contrasts nicely to the old city of Hoi An – and felt like the real, modern Vietnam. After all the central part of Hoi An is actually a “museum”. This part of central Vietnam had quite a lot to offer – and with all the construction going on, is really trying to build up its profile as a resort city.

  4. @ John — Respectfully, and I say this all the time, “aspirational” means something different to everyone, and can even vary trip to trip for the same person. Some want to travel more frequently, others more luxuriously, or at a lower cost. And I think knowing the range of accommodations can be interesting in many cases, even if it’s just to confirm that you’d prefer to sacrifice location for better amenities, or whatever else.

  5. I think we may have passed each other. But then, it was hard to tell with all the Korean tourists during Tet.
    @Tiffany, I really liked your review and I thought you pointed out the highlights and things to be aware of very well.

    I’m sure the answer to your bathroom toiletries question is both, both for family and guests.
    If that’s something to bother you, then stick to hotels in Vietnam.

    The only thing I’d add is that travel in Vietnam at Tet is the most difficult of times, with packed trains and planes and businesses that are open 360 days a year are closed for the 4 or 5 days of Tet.
    Even hotels will run with reduced staff, so it’s best to avoid.

  6. Great review! Airbnb reviews are rare to see on travel blogs but the value tends to be much better than paying a hotel rate most of the time, especially for budget travelers.

  7. Will be going to DAD next month and stayin in Hoi An too.
    I booked the reasonably priced ‘Hotel Royal Hoi An’, a Sofitel hotel.

  8. Totally agreed with your approach. My wife and I stayed in Da Nang on the beach (in February), and we ended up spending all our time in Hoi An (love it there!). Fittingly, I’m wearing both the slacks and shirt that I had made there 2 years ago (and they still are in great shape).

  9. My wife and I stayed at the Hyatt Regency Danang on free nights which was great and we only left one day to see the Marble Mountains. It’s walkable from the Hyatt if you’re into long walks plus all the stairs on the mountain. Then we stayed at a local hotel about a 20 minute walk from the historic part of Hoi An which was about the same price and quality as your Airbnb. We would have preferred being much closer to the historic part for our nights there. I guess my point is some of your readers like to stay at both nice hotels on points and budget options so your review is appreciated.

  10. As the “Fair Trade” shower gel is usually found in Novotel bathrooms, and I believe I’ve seen the MM-branded ones before, too, I’d guess they were meant for guests. The others I’m not sure about, so I think Richard may be right saying it’s a mixture of guest and family stuff.

  11. @John No one’s forcing you to read this article nor are you being charged to read the blog so………

  12. I love Da Nang and have been going here every year for the past three years. I can’t say the same for Hoi An though, it’s way too touristy for me. Also, you misspelled “banh mi” in the last two posts. Otherwise, I enjoyed both posts.

  13. Love the post. I know most of us reading want or are expecting hotel reviews, but the air bnb review as a change up is refreshing. Give great insight on what one can expect from private residences.

  14. Thanks for a great review @Tiffany @John. I, for one, really appreciated it. An AirBNB stay definitely belongs on here, because it is still a travel blog overall and an AirBNB is very much part of that.

    It was nice to see a hospitable family welcoming you to their home, culture, and way of life on a daily basis. I like it as well, because I have been very hesitant on using AirBNBs. I always worry about the security, cleanliness, service, and privacy compared to high end hotels. Yet, your article gave me a different perspective, so unlike John, I am happy I read your article and thank you again for another delightful review.

  15. I’ve stayed several times at the Vinh Hung Emerald Resort which is on the river and very quiet, just a 5 minute walk to the central area. I’ve also stayed at the original Vinh Hung hotel in old Hoi An town where they filmed the movie A Quiet American. Tiffany I love your new profile picture!

  16. Loved this review Tiffany. With Ben finding a new love of staying at home and previous guest writers disappearing we need more reports from you 🙂

  17. This is great Tiffany! Can’t wait for your recap of the Hoi An activities. Your Instagram pictures made me reminisce about my trip two years ago.

    During my trip I stayed at the Golden Bell Boutique Villa. Just on the outskirts of “downtown” Hoi An. I could have paid 2x the rate and still felt I was receiving incredible value. Highly recommended.

  18. While the review content is excellent. I do agree with @John that Airbnb doesn’t belong here but not for his reason of aspiration stuff. I feel each Airbnb is too unique and specific that it serves better as your personal travel memoir. I just can’t see the odds of myself being able to book “Orchid House” or any single specific Airbnb that was reviewed. I never once was able to book the same (good) Airbnb twice. Now a 200 room property that is a different story. It’s much easier to book them.

    To sum up, as good as Airbnb can get, I would appreciate to see properties that I can/want/able to book and stay rather reading another travel diary.

  19. I just stayed at the new Hilton Da Nang and loved it – amazing service. Another option for those who prefer hotels. But tempted to do an Airbnb for at least some of the next time in Vietnam!

  20. LOL for a second there I seriously thought this might be a post by Lucky – but when I saw the first picture I was 100% sure that Lucky would not go near a place like that.

  21. By reviewing a small Airbnb on a blog like this you are creating far more publicity than they are likely to be able to handle. Sudden increase in visitors will completely ruin the character of a place like this. Irresponsible post, in my opnion.

    I think just providing your objective feedback through a review on Airbnb would have been sufficient.

  22. Personally, my travel aspirations are primarily to meet people, gain some small measure of entré into the culture, and accrue new experiences including eating local food.

    For that reason, Tiffany’s stay is substantially more “aspirational” to me than another night in an Intercontinental, now matter how servile the staff and consistent the shampoo.

  23. @RB stayed at the Mgallery Royal Hotel week before last – hotel is fine and very reasonable. It’s an okay 5 star hotel and right in town. I’m surprised Tiffany did not mention it. Much cheaper than the Anantara whose rates go up and down….

    Spent 6 nights at the Intercontinental – good hotel but yes it is a good way from city. Late March/early April perfect beach weather.

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