After more than two decades at the helm of Aman Resorts, Adrian Zecha has started a new chapter at the sprightly age of 84. Decades at the pinnacle of hospitality can leave a little pride. So Zecha’s new brand Azerai combines his initials – AZ – with the Persian word for an inn with a courtyard for travellers, caravanserai. That description sums up the appeal of the debut Azerai in Luang Prabang. Perhaps little less grandiose and a little more affordable, it has lost nothing of the associated lustre. In a building that was formerly the Phousi Hotel, Zecha and architect Pascal Trahan have created a, well, caravanserai that is simple, refined and discreet.
A courtyard pool serves as the central anchor. Flowing around it are the buildings, retaining vestiges of their colonial past under new facades of wood and refurbished roofs with their distinctive Lao finials. Behind these walls are 53 open-plan rooms, all clean and crisp. A retreat, fitness centre, reading lounge, the atmospheric Azerai Bistro and cordial Bistro Bar complete the list of amenities.