24-Hour Room Service: The Nam Hai, Hoi An, Vietnam

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

A neat retreat on a Vietnamese beach

Placing yourself in a scene of perfection – backstage at a fashion show, for example – has implications for personal insecurities. Similarly, pulling up to a hotel where the endless lawns are being trimmed by hand – with scissors – and the verdant foliage looks like a mobile phone screensaver, has the potential to make you feel, well, a little scruffy. Thankfully, the minute my scruffy sandals entered this hallowed scene at the Nam Hai, my old suitcase disappeared out of sight aboard a golf buggy, a cooling cup of passion fruit tea was placed in one hand and a rosewater-scented cold towel pressed into the other. And, somehow, I didn't feel the least bit out of place.

The exacting lines of slate and grey stone, the mirror-calm pools of water and toned-down, pan-Asian design here will be familiar to anyone who has stayed in another GHM hotel before (The Datai in Langkawi or The Chedi hotels in Muscat or Chiang Mai, for example). The organisation choruses that it's a "style to remember" – and indeed it is.

The enormous pavilion that ushers you into the resort and wields its might atop a series of stone stairs ought to look menacing, but then a phalanx of staff in white uniforms breezes past, bidding you xin chao (hello) with genuine warmth to put you at ease.

While the Nam Hai's design is broadly Asian, the architects responsible have also worked on a couple of Vietnam's newest luxury beach resorts, the Six Senses Con Dao and the forthcoming Alila Villas in Mui Ne. And in the Nam Hai, they have made sure that local accents keep the resort rooted to its location. Ruler-straight avenues of palm trees that contour the main swimming pool are strung with lime-green lanterns, alluding to the silk lanterns that decorate the enchanting nearby town of Hoi An. Materials are locally sourced: black marble, terracotta roof tiles and balau wood.

The design imprint comes into its own at the spa, which meanders alongside a large, lotus-dotted pond – a scene so serene that you could get away with just sitting down and listening to the chirrup of the wildlife instead of indulging in the traditional Vietnamese or Himalayan hot stone massages.

If there were ever a time to feel insecure though, it would be at breakfast. Among the well-behaved younger guests evidently at ease in this sort of environment was a child sporting Ray Ban Aviator sunglasses, while the buffet proffered rabbit stew and chilled champagne, alongside fresh fruit, baguettes and cao lau – the local fiery dish of noodles, pork, croutons and herbs better appreciated with a cold beer than hot coffee. If the piquant flavours tickle your tastebuds, the Nam Hai offers cookery classes that visit a local market and the resort's (perfectly trimmed) organic farm.

Location

The resort opens onto Ha My beach on Vietnam's central coast; I barely saw another person here during my stay. One of the Nam Hai's biggest assets is its proximity to the enchanting town of Hoi An. A free shuttle bus makes the 10-minute journey four times a day, taking you to the Unesco-listed town famed for its tailors, colonial architecture and fairytale lanterns. The bus doesn't operate at dinnertime, so instead take a taxi (120,000 dong/£3.70) and try cheap and authentic white rose dumplings and cao lau. Da Nang airport is 30km north.

Comfort

The Nam Hai comprises 60 one-bedroom villas and 40 pool villas that range from one to five bedrooms in size, arranged so discreetly that even after four days I still hadn't worked out where they had put them all. My one-bedroom villa formed part of a crescent that arched back from the beach, giving all an unencumbered sea view.

Inside, the huge space lay under a pitched roof and rose through three levels, from the sitting room that opened onto a neat little garden; to a six-poster that enveloped the bed and behind it, a sunken stone bath and floor-cushioned sofa; and finally a bathroom that opened onto a tropical garden with outdoor shower. The stepped layout means that wherever you are – bed, bath or sofa, you can see the sea (and the sunrise if you're up early enough) through the floor-to-ceiling windows. At night, muslin curtains and fragrant citronella candles transform it to an intimate space.

The palette is made up of dark hardwood, white walls, dark rattan ceiling panels and stony-hued fabrics. Finally, the iPod put mine to shame, with an exhaustive library that spanned Frank Sinatra to Fatboy Slim.

The Nam Hai, Hamlet 1, Dien Duong Village, Dien Ban District, Quang Nam Province, Vietnam (00 84 510 394 0000; thenamhai.com).

Rooms 5 stars
Value 3 stars
Service 5 stars

Doubles start at US$540 (£360), including breakfast. Virgin Holidays+Hip Hotels (0844 573 2460; vhiphotels.com) offers seven-night packages from £2,379 per person including flights from Heathrow via Singapore, transfers and B&B.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
(L-R) Amanda Peet as Tina Morris, Melanie Lynskey as Michelle Pierson, Abby Ryder Fortson as Sophie Pierson, Mark Duplass as Brett Pierson and Steve Zissis as Alex Pappas in Togetherness
TV First US networks like HBO shook up drama - now it's comedy's turn
Travel
Pool with a view: the mMarina Bay Sands in Singapore
travel From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
News
The will of Helen Beatrix Heelis, better known as Beatrix Potter, was among those to be archived
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
News
Nigel Farage: 'I don't know anybody in politics as poor as we are'
i100
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

    The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
    Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

    Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

    France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
    Sports Quiz of the Year

    Sports Quiz of the Year

    So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

    From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

    Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect