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It is an overcast December afternoon when we arrive at La Residence, once the home of the colonial French Resident Superieure and now restored as a boutique hotel. When the French assumed control of Hue in the 1880s, they left the northern bank of the river to the Vietnamese, claiming the south bank as their own ‘New City" and began to redevelop the area. Built in 1930 on the banks of the Perfume River in Hue, the former Imperial Citadel of Vietnam, the architecture of La Residence is distinctive of the Art Deco modern school of that era. The mansion has a bowed façade and is flanked on both sides by long wings. The luminous white of its grand façade and festive lighting greets us with arms outstretched and we instantly forget the gray skies above.

Our room is also large and bright and a large balcony beckons us to sit and gaze at the fabled river in front of our eyes. It threatens to rain, so we rest in the comfort our room for a while. We have planned a special evening – to dine outdoors enjoying what the hotel refers to as "the Governor’s Colonial Dinner." We go down for dinner early to spend some time in the garden, sipping an aperitif. Even at dusk, I can see that the grounds are lush with flowering shrubs and frangipani trees, illuminated with lantern-like fixtures. The song of the cicadas lures us to wandering along the lighted pathways. Fortunately, the skies hold back and we are treated to the experience of dining outdoors in this romantic setting, made even more magical by countless flickering candles placed around the terrace and on our table.

It is a decadent meal of many courses, the portions just the right size and presented like works of art. How masterful is our chef, Dong Hai, who creates such delicacies as Orange Marinated Prawns and Green Papaya Salad with Ginger Dressing. His gallery of dishes, an exquisite fusion of Asian and French cuisine, has us tasting local fish on a Confit of fresh vegetables and a Fine Herbs Salad & Citrus Sabayon. And oh, the "Young Rice Ice Cream with Vietnamese Sweet Rice Wine" is enough to make us sigh with pleasure. Something we do often during this meal.

We could not have enjoyed our evening more and were so pleased that the weather cooperated. On the second afternoon of our visit, a relentless downpour held us prisoners in our room – a sentence of pure, restful comfort. There is no other place I’d rather be held captive!

September 2014

All images and reviews copyright 2015 by Ginda Simpson

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La Residence Hue Hotel & Spa

5 Le Loi Street, tp. Hue, Thua Thiên, Hue, Vietnam

La Residence Hue Hotel & Spa  ~ Original watercolor painting by Ginda Simpson

Vietnamese Cuisine: The Governor’s Colonial Dinner in Hue, Vietnam