An exceptionally well-preserved example of a typical Southeast Asian trading port, dating from the 15th – 19th centuries, the ancient town of Hội An is an enticing destination to spend two or three days, with its lazy river lined with mustard-coloured merchants’ houses, and soft sandy beaches a few kilometres away. Since cars and even motorbikes are banned from the centre of Hội An, and the bicycle is king, the sprawling old town may be a little touristy, but its atmosphere verges on dreamy and it can absorb a number of visitors without losing its relatively authentic Vietnamese feel.
Hội An largely owes its charmingly well-preserved state to the silting-up of the Thu Bồn river in the 19th century. Whilst this put an end to the town’s importance as a trading post, it helped it to escape modern development and US bombing, the cumulative result of which is what travellers enjoy today. But, in recent years, not least since it was officially recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the heart of the Old Town has grown a little too rapidly to capitalise on the burgeoning tourism industry, and sadly many of its ancient houses have been converted into shops and restaurants. The neighbourhood once well known for its beautiful tiled roofs and internal courtyards – which provided a layered, spatial quality between inner and outer spaces – has slowly been eroded. Some would argue that the Old Town has lost a great deal of its original charm, calmness and peaceful way of life.
Positioned on an irregular plot of land which its designers have used to give the 48-room property a unique character, building Atlas hotel above the site completely freed-up the ground floor to create an inter-connected network of internal courtyards. Whilst this spatial quality reflects the dynamism of the new linear Hội An, it also nods to the charm of the Old Town and has been constructed so as not to further diminish the town’s original feel. And by installing more than 100 cantilevering concrete planters, lush greenery tumbles from all of the façades’ sandstone balconies, as well as along the hotel’s narrow corridors and rooftop. The overall effect is a unique place to rest your head which gently yet effectively reconnects guests with nature, whilst offering all the modern-day amenities a 21st century city break vacationer demands, including a restaurant, healthcare centre and spa, gym and swimming pool.