Executive travel: Refuge from the bustle at Hotel Nikko Saigon

The Hotel Nikko Saigon’s cavernous Zen-style interior offers welcoming calm from the rumbustious vigour of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), where avoiding a collision with one of its seven million scooters and motorbikes is a daily challenge.

For the business traveller it is something of a toss-up between choosing a hotel located near the airport or in the middle of District One, where business usually gets done. 

The Hotel Nikko Saigon is the right option to be close to Tan Son Nhat International Airport, just 20 minutes away in the quietest periods, or over an hour if your driver gets lost in the rush hour, as ours managed to do.

It has 334 rooms, suites and apartments in a 23-storey building, all in relaxing shades of grey. Rooms start from the equivalent of Dh460 per night.

The spacious lobby lounge was a pleasant venue, with attentive service and a long menu. On the fourth floor the business centre has four meeting rooms to seat from 10 to 100, priced from $142 to $450 for half a day. 

There is complimentary 4.2 Mps Wi-fi across the hotel, and two work stations available in the business centre, where half an hour costs $2. 

In the room the desk was a little small to spread out my papers. But I could hardly complain about an internet connection three times faster than my du service in Dubai. 

There was also a fixed-line LAN connection, although I had to call room service for an adapter for my square-pin plug, a bit odd as they seemed standard in the other 10 hotels I stayed in during this exhausting trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. 

I would award this hotel the prize of second-best bed of this long tour (in top spot, L’Opera in Hanoi was as nice as can be).

The Nikko group is Tokyo-­based, and Japanese attention to detail was strong at the Ho Chi Minh City outlet – like a rechargeable torch by the bed to find your way around if you get up in the night, plus free toiletries, including a shaving kit. 

The hotel has a full-size swimming pool on an open-air terrace on the fifth floor and a gym with four treadmills, a few other machines and free weights. The sumptuous Ren spa looked a less arduous option with an hour of its signature massage for $57 and a two-and-a-half hour package for $111.

q&a don’t drive yourself crazy

Peter Cooper speaks with Kevin Snowball, the veteran expat and chief executive of the PXP Vietnam fund, which is headquartered in Ho Chi Minh City:

What’s your top tip for executives visiting Vietnam?

Choosing the right hotel is very important. Vietnamese cities are very difficult to move around in and so all the business action is in the centre.

So where would you stay?

The Nikko is a bit far out. The Park Hyatt is best in Ho Chi Minh City. It’s high-end, great for business meetings and restaurants. In Hanoi I always stay at The Metropole, which is my favourite hotel in the whole world.

How do you get around?

I’ve got a driver. Taxis are very cheap but we bought a “tank” after an accident in 2006. Motorbikes are quickest but I gave up riding after having an accident within 18 seconds of getting my last bike.

What do you advise for a quick tour?

Despite my worries about two-wheel travel, Vespa Tours are a specialist company that do a really good job. People like to go and see the tunnels from the Vietnam War. For something different try Sophie’s Art Tours.

Is driving safe?

Vietnam is a very safe country apart from the roads. The driving is absolutely awful. There are millions of scooters and motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh City and they give no thought to the consequences of their actions and will do anything to save a fraction of a second on the journey time. That said, aside from the sort of opportunistic petty theft you find in any large city it’s a great place to live and work.


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