This cheery boutique hotel in Ho Chi Minh City’s Binh Thanh District, is perfect for people who want to experience the real Saigon away from the touristy District 1.
We love a boutique hotel with personality and Lief Hotel has plenty of it. From the colourful floor tiles to the bright photographs on the walls and the pastel Buddhas in the lobby, staying at the Lief feels like you’re visiting your hip best friend’s extra cosy home.
Most of Saigon’s hotels are clustered in two areas of District 1, but Lief Hotel is a short motorbike ride away, allowing you to escape the touristy city centre and glimpse local life in Ho Chi Minh City. If you want a cosy spot to relax at the end of the day, away from the buzz of the city, Leif Hotel is ideal.
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What we loved at Lief Hotel
Big personality. When I first spotted Lief Hotel on Booking.com, I was immediately wowed by the brightly patterned tiles. After we arrived, I saw that the tiles were only a small slice of the overall design.
Poster-size photos of gorgeous Vietnamese destinations adorn the walls, each with its own inspiring travel quote. Pastel Buddha statues watch over you in the lobby and the furniture is painted like a basket of Easter eggs.
In each room, a bowl full of quotes about travel and Vietnamese culture provides inspiration for your day, while in the rooftop bar, candles in glass lanterns light your evening cocktail.
Extra large firm bed. The most important part of any hotel room is the bed. At Lief Hotel, the king-sized beds leave plenty of room to stretch out and the firm mattresses provide a solid sleep. This was by far Stephen’s favourite bed of the last few months of travel!
Big beautiful windows. If you book a corner room, then you’ll have a curved wall of floor-to-ceiling windows to light your room and give you great views of the neighbourhood. Some rooms also have balconies where you can sit out in the evening to watch city life spread out before you.
Chef-created breakfasts. The made-to-order breakfasts at Lief Hotel were delicious and filling. Choose your style of eggs – scrambled, omelette, fried, or poached – and then decide which meats and veggies you want. There is also tasty French toast, real American-style pancakes, classic Vietnamese noodle soup, and several other options.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything vegan available, so we made do with the vegetarian options.
Perfect for digital nomads. Initially conceived as a long-stay hotel, the Lief provides plenty of comfy spaces to work and relax. Each room has a dining table with soft chairs – ours became our mobile office during our stay. There is also a comfortable arm chair or sofa in each room.
The lobby is a welcoming work space, which attracts laptop warriors from the area.
Unusual extras at Lief Hotel
Rooftop bar with city views. Sitting on the seventh-floor rooftop bar in the cool evening breeze was a highlight of our stay at Lief Hotel. With a craft beer (they have Pasteur Street on tap), a cocktail, or a fresh juice in hand, it’s the perfect way to unwind from a long day in the busy city.
Kitchenette. A small kitchenette, equipped with a stove, pots, pans, and utensils, is handy if you want to cook simple meals. It was a great place to prepare our tea and coffee in the morning and give our re-usable water bottles a good wash.
Complimentary afternoon tea. When you’re travelling, late afternoon is the perfect time to relax at the hotel before the evening’s entertainment begins. Head up to the rooftop bar for complimentary afternoon tea — which features herbal tea, cakes, or savoury snacks.
What we didn’t love at Lief Hotel
Not much in walking distance. Lief Hotel is in an unusual location. Just outside of District 1 in the Binh Thanh district, it doesn’t leave much opportunity for walking to popular restaurants or attractions.
Then again, walking in Ho Chi Minh City is hardly ever pleasant — the roads are jam-packed with traffic and there are very few sidewalks — so you’re not missing much. Getting a taxi, Uber, or Grab bike is easy and definitely the preferable method of getting around.
No vegan options. This is a complaint we have at almost every hotel. We’d always love to see a few vegan options on the menu. If we had asked, I’m sure the chef could have made us something vegan.
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What’s in the neighbourhood?
You won’t see any other tourists in the area, which means that there aren’t any trendy restaurants or cafes nearby. There are plenty of street stalls and small local restaurants to choose from though.
For most restaurants and attractions, you’ll need to take a taxi or motorbike. The fastest way through the city is by motorbike, which you can order from Grab or Uber. If you’ve never ridden a motorbike in an Asian city before, be prepared for an exciting (but generally safe) ride!
If you need to flag a cab, be sure to take the bright green Mai Linh or the white Vinasun taxis – these companies always use the metre and are trustworthy.
Where to eat near Lief Hotel
Eating at Lief Hotel is an excellent option. The food is fresh and tasty – prepared by a chef who obviously loves his work. While there weren’t many vegetarian options on the menu, they were happy to make us a plate of vegetarian spaghetti that was excellent.
If you want to dive into the local street food scene, your choices near Lief Hotel are almost limitless. From pho, to bun, to grilled meats and more, it’s all on offer on the two busy streets flanking the Lief’s neighbourhood.
There are two vegetarian restaurants within walking distance, if you don’t mind slogging through a bit of traffic.
The Organik House
This tiny restaurant is in an odd location, to be sure, with not much else around. But it is completely worth the effort to find it. From the Lief, it’s about a 1.5 km walk along a busy road – but there are sidewalks for the most part!
At Organik House there’s a small daily menu, all vegetarian with about half the options being vegan. The chef is Italian and the food is incredible. We had a fresh organic salad that was a meal in itself, and a plate of pasta that made us feel as though we were back in Italy. Don’t miss Organik House when you’re in Ho Chi Minh City!
Though this small Buddhist vegan restaurant is only about 400m from the Lief, there is a four-lane road with a large concrete divider in between the two. You can’t walk across it, unless you have a death wish, so the only option is to go around. The walk is about 2km of mostly unpleasant busy terrain.
There’s a huge selection at Khai Minh (though much of it may not be available), featuring mostly mock meat Buddhist dishes and red rice. It was decent enough food but I wouldn’t hurry back.
Book your stay at Lief Hotel
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Things to Do and Tours in HCMC
Our complete guide to mindful travel in Vietnam, includes itineraries, mindful activities, where to stay, what to eat, and where to practice yoga.
At Lief Hotel, you can organize many of the popular Ho Chi Minh City day tours, or even embark on some unusual ones.
Here are a few other tours we recommend.
Les Rives river tour. I visited Can Gio forest with Les Rives and loved getting out on the river to see a different view of Saigon. It’s a great way to learn about the Mekong Delta and escape into nature for the day.
Vietnam bike tours. Though we didn’t end up finding the right time to do a bicycle tour from Ho Chi Minh City, it looks like a great eco-friendly way to see a bit of the countryside. You can also arrange to visit some popular Ho Chi Minh City attractions with Vietnam Bike Tours, like the Mekong Delta or Cu Chi Tunnels.
Street food tour. Saigon is a big and confusing city. There are thousands of street food stalls and it’s impossible to know, as a tourist, which ones are good and which will ruin your trip with food poisoning. There is so much street food in Saigon, that you can even customize your tour to your dietary needs, whether you want a vegetarian street food tour, shellfish-free tour, or something else entirely.
Try one of these street food tours in Saigon.
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What do you think of the tiles at Lief Hotel? Have you stayed at a great hotel in Ho Chi Minh City? Let us know in the comments.
♥ Happy mindful adventures, Stephen & Jane
FYI: We were guests of Lief Hotel for our stay but our opinions are all our own (yes, we really liked it!). Also, this post contains affiliate links, so if you book using one of our personal links, we get a little commission at no cost to you. It helps keep this blog alive, so thanks in advance!