Burasiri Heritage Hotel personifies the true meaning of luxury. Here, you become an exclusive guest as you step into a narrative of profound authenticity providing an enlightening insight into everyday life in the ancient town of Luang Prabang.

Take a journey back in time at the Burasari Heritage Hotel, a cultural gem located in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang. Situated at the meeting point of two rivers, on the banks of the peaceful Nam Khan and Mekong river basin, this unique period hotel offers a profound response to life on the Mekong and the richly diverse cultural influences that have infused the ancient
settlement for many centuries.

The site consists of five traditional Lao teakwood houses, which had come into disrepair and which were afforded the perfect opportunity for restoration. PIA was invited to collaborate on the project and worked directly with the Owner as well as UNESCO’s heritage team to find the right balance between restoration, and most important conservation. The existing property had a story to tell, and the brief challenged the design team to be conscious of traditional methods of construction. This included the rebuilding of new mud walls using techniques which were specific to the region. Local knowledge was paramount and proved invaluable to the restoration process that followed.

The hotel’s cordial facilities are located over two storeys and split between five existing residential buildings. Three of these buildings are located on the main site with two additional residential blocks separated from the main, by a small street which passes through the site. The Lobby, Reception and Dining rooms are located in the most significant building and merged as an open plan concept. This is reminiscent of a 19th Century outpost adding to the immersive feeling of charm and relaxed comfort. A series of landscaped gardens surround each building, transforming the spaces between into alfresco dining areas throughout the day.

The Interior narrative follows the story of Henri Mouhot 1826-1861, a French naturalist and explorer in the mid 19th Century. Working out of his base in Bangkok, Mouhot made four journeys to Luang Prabang in his lifetime, each time recording his findings, ranging from people, places animals and objects. Mouhot visited Angkor Wat, and it was his published memoirs ‘Voyage dans les royaumes de Siam, de Cambodge, de Laos’ which introduced western people to this natural wonder on the other side of the world. On his final visit to Lao in 1861, Henri Mouhot suffered from malarial fever and passed away soon afterwards. To this day many tourists visit his tomb, located a short distance from the Hotel complex on the banks of the Nam Khan River.

Maison Mouhot is inspired by the journey of the explorer and the ideology of temporary architecture, with particular reference to decorative objects which could be tied, bound and suspended. Set within the context of the traditional Lao house the opportunity presented itself to connect the dots between French colonial influences and local cultural sensibility.

The Reception house is an alluring mix of new, reclaimed and existing installations which blend coherently at first glance. A team of experienced local craftsmen were pivotal in the sourcing, restoration, and production of all furniture pieces, and their expertise ensured a uniform result. Firstly, existing makha wall panelling’s were stripped and repainted in sepia white to highlight its period charm. Reclaimed panels from nearby houses were discovered and installed to add textural grace. Laotian teak sideboards, bureaus as well as some furniture which was retained from the existing dwellings, was lightly touched up and made good. As a backdrop to the reception desk, a newly added period open bookcase anchors the space to orderly effect. These carefully applied adaptations ensured a holistic sense of place to the overall look and feel.

The property consists of twenty-one guestrooms each with a unique footprint driven by the constraints of the structures. Superior rooms are bright and airy, painted in off white and are lavishly furnished in a storied mix of period French colonial furniture and vernacular reconditioned pieces. Each room on the ground floor comes with a private garden while the first floor rooms are provided with spacious balconies. Rooms on the first floor are designed as Attic rooms which are beautifully clad in Laotian oak boards providing an inherent sense of warmth and cosiness.

Bathrooms fixtures, which are thoughtfully designed to extend into the room space, instill contemporary convenience. The antique ceramic wash basin which is typically found adjacent to the bed retains its place but is modernised with hot and cold running water and drainage points. Antique ribcage showers become a focal point of the rooms, providing a relaxing, authentic guest room experience. Soft furnishings, cushions and throws reveal colourfully playful kanok patterns. Sourced from the local rag market these fabrics are typically used in the making of patung dresses. Colours vary from room to room and are inspired by the bright colours of the nearby night market. However authentic touches extend beyond the interior spaces with a welcome pack designed for every guest who stays at the hotel. This includes a signature tote bag as well as a tropical explorer hat. Guests can set out in the morning, rent a bike and are fully prepared for a day’s exploration along the Mekong River.

Project: Burasari Heritage Luang Prabang Laos
Location: Luang Prabang, Laos
Design Studio: PIA Interior
Website: piainterior.com

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