The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism has instituted its own rating system, which vaguely conforms to international standards of quality. Yet hotels billed as five-star in Vietnam are often more like three- or four-star hotels in the United States.
Although hotel staffers are generally enthusiastic and some have received training abroad, really good service is still a rarity. A few hotels, however, are as luxurious and have as high standard of service as any international establishment in the world. Beach and mountain resorts are rapidly being developed.
In major cities and tourist destinations, the hotel industry continues to grow, with more and more international and smaller-size hotels opening. Many of the larger international hotels often aren't fully booked but it is rare that staff will have the authority to offer discounted rates, most will point you in the direction of the online booking agents that have the best deals. Smaller hotels and guesthouses may give you a better room rate than what's listed when calling to make reservations. Vietnam has a selection of other mid-size, mid-level hotels and guest houses, which go by the term “homestays.” These privately owned, often family-run operations range from utilitarian to plush; they usually provide friendly service, spotless if basic rooms, and a homey environment. Although such amenities as swimming pools and exercise equipment are rare, and their restaurants are often bland and lifeless, guest rooms generally have air-conditioning and usually include satellite TV, Wi-Fi, IDD telephones, refrigerators, and showers. They may also include lots of street noise.
In smaller towns or rural areas expect much more basic accommodations. Reservations are recommended during Christmas and New Year and during Tet, the lunar new year (January or February); prices often fluctuate at that time.
Apartment and House Rentals
Airbnb, Flipkey, and to a lesser extent, home-exchange directories, list rentals as well as exchanges.
Upscale beach villas and family rentals are a relatively new thing in Vietnam, but the quality of accommodations is high; some easily compete on a design scale with the private villas at four- or five-star resorts in the region, but come at less than half the price. The highest concentration are found in the popular coastal town of Hoi An. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have a number of international-standard serviced apartments. Most of these are underused, and agents are only too happy to cut deals with short-term occupants.
Ocean Villas Resort. Truong Sa, Danang, Da Nang. 234/396–7094; www.oceanvillas.com.vn.
Guest Houses and Homestays
Basically bed and breakfasts, though you won't see them advertised as such, and guest houses flood the lodging market in many towns and country areas. Standards vary from small and basic in more rural areas to downright luxurious in popular tourist destinations. Wherever these are located, you can be certain they are the cheapest places to bed down for the night, with the nicest staff and, generally, awful breakfasts (there will always be other options nearby). If it matters to you, always ask if your room has a window with a view, as it is common for cheaper room types to be nose-to-nose with the neighboring building, making rooms feel dark and claustrophobic.
In recent years the government has linked up with various NGO and tour companies to set up sustainable homestays in remote minority villages, providing hill-tribe villagers the tools, training, and support to welcome overnight guests into their village homes. Accommodations are usually basic but full of character, and usually lack the thrills of air-conditioning, ensuite bathrooms, and, quite often, electricity—you’re more likely to have shared bathroom facilities and a solar powered fan. However, what rooms lack in mod cons, they more than make up for with stunning settings, welcoming hosts, and jungle village experiences that you are unlikely to find anywhere else in the country. Bring mosquito repellant.