Liberace never designed hotels.
Perhaps he should have. His glitzy costumes, giant candelabra and extravagant showmanship made him almost as famous as his piano playing.
His ferocious style could easily have created the marvel that is The Reverie Saigon. Although the design curtseys to Italian craftsmanship, the gilded gold features, deliciously deep colour palette and unique features wouldn’t be out of place on a Las Vegas stage.
The owners felt she was more New York than Las Vegas though.
Towering over Saigon, she occupies the top floors of the Times Square building named after the famous bowtie- shaped square. Inspiration was sought from the Disney infused, light and architectural spectacle at the heart of New York City. They wanted to mimic its pizzazz in Vietnam.
And they did, in abundance. With an Italian twist.
A member of the Leading Hotels of the World, the global collection comprising over 400 hotels in 80 countries, it has been designed to emulate a Venetian palazzo.
Swathes of Carrara marble flood the floors, dazzlingly illuminated by the light of the Murano chandeliers. A kaleidoscope of colours seeps from the walls. Red, a sign of wealth in Vietnam, screams the loudest, alongside vibrant blue, yellow and green from the magnificent mosaic wall.
There are various entrances into the building leading from the bustling streets of district one, the commercial centre of the city. The lobby opens onto Nguyễn Huệ boulevard, the main pedestrian street, leading one way to the Saigon River and the other to Saigon City Hall, the old French colonial centre with tourist attractions and luxury shops.
It is an immediate assault on the senses, in a good way. Drop chandeliers glitter, vivacious blues mix with gold leaf to form a reception desk unlike any other. The ceiling hosts multicoloured lotus flowers in the elongated shape of Vietnam. Bellboys dressed in crisp white uniforms helpfully set the tone for the exquisite service, staff are extremely attentive, even posting a postcard should antiquated tourist traits remain your style.
The Bitexco Financial Tower is next door. Another unmistakable landmark, its helipad reaches out like an upturned hand ready to catch well healed visitors as they descend from the skies. The Reverie also has a helipad, or if you prefer to arrive by four wheels, take your pick from Rolls Royce, Mercedes, or Bentley Phantoms, of which there are only four or five in Vietnam and the Reverie has two of them.
It took nine years to complete the hotel. Every detail was executed to perfection, every design consideration evaluated including the how the sun would pierce through the vast windows in a manner in keeping with Feng Shui.
They succeeded, a round of applause please.
Check-in is on the seventh floor via a backlit amber elevator.
It’s a showstopper.
A black piano rests beside a spiral staircase that leads to the all-day Café Cardinal. This stunning feature was once used as a runway for fashion shows, what better place to showcase haute couture?
A pianist plays every day from 2-6 PM. Liberace would be in his element.
Or perhaps he would prefer tinkling the ivories in La Scala Ballroom. Decorated like Milan’s La Scala, it is the largest ballroom in the city, with its central chandelier dropping 7.3 metres dripping with Swarovski crystals.
A burgundy velvet Colombostile sofa with swirling gold chariot like feet reposes in the corner facing the check-in desks. Your carriage awaits. Take a seat and buckle up.
The magical journey is about to begin.
Beneath your feet a luxurious multicoloured thick pile Italian carpet hugs the floor. Custom made pieces from a wealth of Italian designers, including Luca Baldi of Baldi Home Jewels, Alfredo Colombo of Colombostile and Roberta Giorgetti of Giorgetti S.p.A cause your jaw to drop and your head to swim.
The pièce de résistance is the emerald-green Baldi Monumental clock that weighs in at 1,000kg and is nearly 10-feet tall.
Further along, a San Marco mirror allows you to preen like a peacock. Peacock artworks are in abundance, they are seen as a symbol of prosperity, purity, and protection. With a jewel encrusted beady eye following you it is time to take another elevator to the top floors and the bedrooms.
Ears pop as you ascend, entering onto floors that again, ooze opulence.
The views are already mesmerising even before you enter your room where the floor to ceiling windows allow unfettered views of the river and the city. A more sedate palette ensues.
There are 12 room categories, including 62 suites, all differing in design. Every room is shielded from city noise by thick glass, black out electric curtains, and blinds. They all have a king size bed, draped in Frette linen sheets. Much of the furniture is designed by Phillip Stack while the wallpaper is courtesy of Rubelli an Italian textile legend. If something catches your eye, you can purchase it in the stores on the ground floor, where willing assistants will happily bubble wrap said piece and courier it directly to your home.
The bathrooms have showers and baths, complete with Chopard toiletries, and elaborate Japanese style toilets with heated seats and wash facilities.
A delightful minibar is topped up every day. Its contents are complimentary, a cool local beer is always a welcome sight after a day dripping in the humid heat.
The outdoor pool is a treat, listen for music being piped underwater as you dive in. The show must go on, even underwater. The vistas and heated plunge pools also make for a perfect afternoon’s relaxation.
If you fancy something more tailored, this two-storey spa area also offers a plethora of treatments in their ten treatment rooms with leather clad walls. There is also a sauna and steam room.
There is no shortage of choice when it comes to food.
The Royal Pavilion offers Cantonese style dining and is itself an institution in Saigon attracting Vietnamese foodies in their droves. The venue is dramatic, with a specially commissioned Swarovski crystal dragon installation suspended at the entrance alongside its name encased in gold and regal red. White and black marble mixes with jade and vermillion. Distinct pork belly with bean curd skin and shrimp with black truffle melts in the mouth as does the sautéed Wagyu beef. The double boiled birds’ nest in a coconut is a delicacy perhaps not to everyone’s taste, however it makes some of the finest dim sum outside Hong Kong. There are 50 varieties, take your time and savour.
Da Vittorio offers wonderful Italian dining. A family-owned restaurant, it pays homage to Italy in keeping with the rest of the hotel.
Café Cardinal serves breakfast, offering traditional Asian and western food, with as much prosecco as you can muster. Lunch and afternoon tea, offering European favourites such as English scones and French éclairs are also served here. At night, French fine dining fayre is on the menu, classics such as foie gras, onion soup and beef tenderloin are expertly paired with refined French wines.
The fittingly named ‘The Long’ bar spans two streets, Dong Khoi, and the pedestrianised Nguyen Hue Boulevard. The sidewalk modelled café offers nourishment via tapas and pizzas and a collection of local specialities such as wok fried king crab spaghetti and black cod with ginger. It also hosts a surprising array of ice creams, including Vietnamese coffee and purple sticky rice flavours.
Add to that a signature cocktail such as the Saigon lover, made with Bombay Sapphire, lemongrass, and lime juice and you have a veritable enclave of taste and talent to while away many an evening. The bar stretches 48 metres, so queuing is minimal no matter how busy it gets.
Carl Jung the eminent Swiss phycologist said, ‘active imagination requires a state of reverie, halfway between sleep and waking’.
An active imagination created The Reverie Saigon.
Stretch your imagination and make a visit a reality, seeing is believing.
For more information visit The Reverie Saigon