Located about eight kilometers from District 1, and right by Binh Thanh, Thanh Da Island is Ho Chi Minh City’s rural enclave. A peaceful, lush area made up of great local eateries, dingy homes and some farmland, this island’s first (and currently only) introduction to the luxury residence scene was the opening Saigon Domaine Luxury Residences in 2001.
The timing was right - the residence was the first of its kind in the city, blending Vietnam’s tropical flora with contemporary apartments in a way that respected the surroundings and brought foreign guests closer to Vietnamese culture than city residences could ever do.
Foreign communities are springing up everywhere in the city (Koreans in Phu My Hung, the Japanese area in District 1, the Westerners spread through Thao Dien in District 2), but Saigon Domaine remains the only luxury Western-style residence on the island, making it a standout sight.
Great for company staff parties, families and solo business travellers from abroad, Saigon Domaine presents a unique surrounding for those used to staying in urban environments. The views from the rooms, which all have balconies, are dominated by the island’s greenery, farmland and local homes. It’s quite peaceful, and convenient considering right across the waters are the massive buildings of the city center
The hotel has won numerous accolades, including three straight years of awards from World Luxury Hotel Awards and several years as TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice winner, as well as being the recipient of TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence for the past few years.
Saigon Domaine keeps a long-term staff that has served the residence well over its years. Everyone is friendly and accommodating, although there is not an abundance of employees milling about - the space is kept friendly and personal with a dedicated team, which can sometimes make the residence look empty.
Reception staff speak English, so it’s never an inconvenience to ask for something. A shuttle bus and speed boat to the city center are provided for guest convenience.
Rooms & Amenities
The rooms are Saigon Domaine’s bread and butter. They are in word, excellent. You know you’re in for something nice when you see each room individually named after a classic boat rather than a room number (although it sometimes makes finding your room a bit confusing). Immaculately clean, expertly arranged and decorated, offering sweeping views (especially on the upper floors), the rooms in Saigon Domaine are spacious, fully equipped and a joy to stay in.
Being a residence rather than a hotel, Saigon Domaine is, naturally, better equipped. The 45 suites all have kitchens, wooden floors, balconies, fridges, washing machines and basic utensils and cutlery. Whether you’re in the cozy (but still large) one bedroom rooms or in one of the two garden-equipped, massive four bedroom units, you get the same amenities.
Sizes vary, but for the most part every room has more than enough space (three bedroom units are a staggering 196 square meters). The two four bedroom units are massive, with full outdoor areas stacked with trees and plants and sunning areas. A party of up to seven may stay in these rooms.
These generous luxury apartments are just as suitable for living as staying for a single night. In fact, there have been recent residents that have stayed for up to four years.
A view from the upper floor rooms offers a dominantly green vantage point, from which to enjoy the view of Thanh Da. The island is one of the few vestiges of the classic, tropical Vietnam still close to the city center. The nighttime views are captivating, after which you get a wonderful sleep on their soft, spacious beds.
Food & Drink
There is no dedicated restaurant space (the nearby local places make up for this), but there is a bar inside the building and by the pool. Saigon Domaine is more of a quiet retreat than a place to unwind, so don’t expect the best-mixed cocktails. There is, however, a decent selection of spirits, including some Japanese Whiskies.
Since you have a fully equipped kitchen in your room, the option of cooking something from the store a few minutes down the block is not as far fetched as one may think. The in-room menu has some classic sandwiches and soups available, but if you’re not opposed to trying the local restaurants minutes away by foot, then the staff can tell you some of their favorite recommendations.
Breakfast is included and is tasty, consisting of a Western buffet served right by the river.
It may surprise most, especially since Saigon Domaine is in the middle of an island in Vietnam, but the best way to summarize the facilities here is to imagine a mix between a modern apartment building and a contemporary art museum.
One of the general manager’s true passions is collecting modern art. And we don’t mean a few abstract paintings in the lobby. There are several large exhibition spaces that showcase displays, which can range from strangely arranged objects to elaborate clothing to an entire recreated room. Even the free-to-use meeting area, fitted with old, expensive furniture and computers, has a number of paintings and an item on display. This creates a dreamy, surreal space in the middle of “rural” Saigon.
On the lobby floor, you will find a gym, steam room, sauna, showers and bathrooms, along with a bar and convenience store. Everything is neatly laid out and easy to find. Just outside the building is an excellent outdoor space, fitted with a children’s pool, garden, play area, adult pool (available for free for all guests, and $15 US per day for outside guests), a breakfast and meeting space, and additional space for meetings, company outings and family gatherings.
The area behind the building is great for company and family events, with the peaceful Saigon River to one side, a beautiful garden area in the middle and the luxury residence on the other side.
What Can Be Improved
– While the spirit selection is fine (including some nice Japanese Whiskies), the bartending at Saigon Domaine is not up to 5 star standards.
– While unique, the lack of numbers on rooms (which instead use names of famous boats) can confuse some guests.
What People Say
With over 200 reviews and a 4.5 overall rating, Saigon Domaine has a solid reputation on TripAdvisor. Many compliment the excellent service and beautiful rooms, with some minor complaints about the location. Despite this, some prefer the distance from the city center as it affords peace. Many enjoy the breakfast by the river.