Pullman Saigon Centre – A Review By Punam Mohandas
The Pullman Saigon Centre has a most enviable location, literally in the centre of the city. It is just a ten minute walk away from the famed Baan Thanh market. What’s more, the hotel provides impeccable service by organising frequent – and free – shuttles to notable landmarks such as the Notre Dame cathedral and the Opera House.
The lobby has a different concept at the Pullman here; it is almost non-existent and functional with just the Reception and Concierge desks however, off to the side you have comfortable and spacious lounge seating, with two computers for complimentary guest use.
With 306 rooms, the categories are divided into Superior; Deluxe; Executive Room; Executive Suite; Pullman Suite and the Presidential Suite. The Superior rooms have no bathtubs, while all the other categories do. For added guest safety, the lifts can only be operated by scanning the room key card against the built-in electronic panel.
The Superior room category itself is quite spacious. Near-charcoal curtains complement the grey carpeting that has purple streaks running through it and a similar motif is reflected on the headboard, which also has a series of white, flower-shaped plates in varying sizes. The black conical hanging lamp over a round table is a nice touch, offset cheerily by a grey daybed with cherry red and grey circular cushions. Faux wooden tree trunks serve as the bedside tables.
All rooms come equipped with large screen TV sets, coffee/tea makers, minibars and electronic safes. There is free wifi all across the hotel.
F&B options include Food Connexion, the 250-cover all-day dining outlet; Urban Lounge for fast food and drinks; the 100-cover Cobalt serving Western cuisine and with an impressive wine cellar; Cobalt Rooftop with 70-covers affording a view over the Saigon skyline over tapas and drinks and a small indoor bar near the pool area.
Food quality is about okay, however, the F&B attentive service makes up for this. During breakfast especially, the staff come around frequently – yet unobtrusively – to remind you that the buffet will be closing shortly.
Recreation facilities include a somewhat long and narrow swimming pool located outdoors, on the sixth floor. There is also a Fitness Centre with the standard equipment, offering steam rooms for both men and women; the sauna however, is only on the men’s side, so a female guest would need to inform the gym-in-charge prior to using the same. The hotel also has its own app which you can download on your mobile phones and sift through more than 4,000 magazines.
The Pullman Saigon also offers the Thann Spa as a relaxation measure. Thann is a well-known Thai brand of spa products and toiletries. The hotel has enhanced this image further by combining the basic Thai massage with other Oriental techniques.With six treatment rooms on offer (two of them for couples) the spa area is a delight of natural bamboo reeds and logs. Unlike the usual spa fragrance of lemongrass, the overriding scent here is of peppermint, surprisingly rather pleasing and instantly uplifting. Guests are offered a choice of oils for their treatment such as Wood (orange, tangerine and nutmeg) Oriental (lemon grass and ylang yang) Sea Foam (peppermint, rosemary and eucalyptus) or a combination of lavender and rosemary. The signature massage is of course, the Thai, but with significant differences, such as that it is done with oil and involves no stretching, just the use of elbows and forearms on the pressure points.
Convention facilities include four small meeting rooms, simply but cleverly marked with the numbers written on the doors in the manner of cinema auditoriums and the Ballroom at 420sqm (both wings) with a large pre-function area of 360sqm. The interiors here are very different from most hotel ballrooms that offer flower-patterned or otherwise boring motifs on the carpeting; here we have purple chairs with a purple-and-grey carpeting bisected into squares by narrow orange stripes. The Executive Lounge is part of the Cobalt restaurant and provides a small meeting room for up to six people (free for the first hour) and a computer for complimentary guest use.
Housekeeping needs a major rethink at this property. The Aquafina bottle caps are too tightly sealed to open easily and it doesn’t help that the bottles are of such flimsy plastic you’re in danger of twisting the neck right off. The teaspoons are too short for the mugs and so one ends up scalding one’s fingertips whilst stirring in the sugar. Also, the lack of jet sprays in the toilets are a nuisance and hardly to be expected from the Accor brand.
The concierge service is among the most helpful and attentive I have experienced recently and, despite a shortcoming of the English language, they go that extra mile in handling customer requests.
Saigon hardly needs any introduction to the world, having been through French as well as American occupations. It is now better known as Ho Chi Minh (although the locals still insist on calling it ‘Saigon’) and all major airlines fly into this city. Saigon is more pulsating than Hanoi, with wider roads and more sweeping architecture. The people are more friendly and affable here too. Traffic is a killer, especially the two-wheelers. Regarding food, try the local Pho or noodle soup, which begins from 45,000. Apart from local fare, there are western chains such as Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and suchlike; there is even a vegan place close to the hotel. From the airport to the Pullman Saigon you would pay USD 10 by taxi, however, a more inexpensive way to travel would be to take the air-conditioned bus no 152 for just 5000 dong, which drops you at the bus stop right outside the hotel. Incidentally, the Pullman is just a ten-minute walk away from the central bus station.
Note: At the time of going to press, the dong was approximately 23,000 to a dollar.
PULLMAN SAIGON CENTRE
TEL: +84 (0)8 3838 8600
FAX: +84 (0)8 3838 8603