A celebration of Ho Chi Minh City’s storied past, the Myst Dong Khoi weaves historical motifs into its homely, modern design
A SENSE OF HISTORY
From the black-and-white photographs of well-to-do Vietnamese families to the lobby ceiling constructed with parts salvaged from the demolished Ba Son shipyard, not to mention the gigantic, hanging anchor that greets guests as they enter, the Myst Dong Khoi offers travellers a window into the soul of ‘old Saigon’. Boasting exposed ceilings and peppered with countless curios, the Myst’s corridors are designed to replicate the city’s network of bustling backstreets and alleyways, while cut-and-paste room numbers are replaced with vintage house number plaques. These reminders of a fast-fading past lend the Myst a historical, lived-in charm that throws the city’s unbridled development into sharp relief.
FEEL AT HOME
Effortlessly blending modern fittings with warm teak floors and furniture, the Myst’s 108 guestrooms exude an air of sophistication reminiscent of the colonial villas that once lined the streets of the ‘Paris of the Orient’ – but never at the expense of comfort. Coloured feature walls, vintage telephones and paintings of idyllic rural scenes create a homely aesthetic while retaining a definite sense of style. Dressed in a bright-orange, silk ao dai, your gregarious hostess reminds you that, whether you choose to unwind with a refreshing tea served in ceramics designed by local studio Dong Gia or bathe in the whirlpool bathtub ensconced in the private balcony garden, “you now live in Saigon”.
A well-worn skiff that doubles up as a buffet station sees the Nest, the hotel’s in-house restaurant, stay true to the heritage feel underpinning the property’s interior design. During afternoon tea – a complimentary indulgence extended to all guests – the last of the day’s sun creeps through the building’s hanging-gardens-of- Babylon exterior and burnishes the Nest with a hazy orange glow that stills the senses. The remains of the day, however, are best enjoyed one floor up, reclining in one of two cabanas set into the hotel’s rooftop pool.
IN THE THICK OF IT
Situated among the heritage buildings that provide the backdrop to Graham Greene’s The Quiet American, the Myst is nestled in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City in busy District 1, where the days are filled with the roar of motorbikes and the scent from the aromatic herbs of the country’s famed street food. As well as the architecture and growing pool of noteworthy bars and restaurants, the city’s commercial hub is home to an impressive array of art galleries and boutiques that have escaped the Western-style consumerism that has taken much of the city by storm. Most notable among them is a crumbling 1940s residential block named 14 Ton That Dam Street that has been taken over by a group of young Vietnamese fashion designers, café owners and retailers.
OUT AND ABOUT
There’s an enduring appeal to breezing through a city by boat, one that clearly chimes with the staff at the Myst, who happily arrange tours for guests keen to take in the must-see sights from both the Saigon River and the city’s web of waterways. But for those who prefer to remain on land, we’d recommend a night at the opera house. Somewhat resembling a grand European city gate, the red-and-gold theatre is but three short blocks from the hotel. Flavour of the month is A O Lang Pho, a Cirque du Soleil-inspired contemporary dance performance that tells the story of Vietnam’s rural inhabitants coming to terms with the country’s disorientating urbanisation.
This article was published in the February edition of Southeast Asia Globe magazine. For full access, subscribe here.