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Set on a mountainside 18km down the valley from Sapa, Topas’s eco-friendly 25 stone cottages take up a jaw-dropping spot overlooking Ban Ho town (where some treks go). For a sense of being ‘out there’ – with nothing but birds and waterfalls providing your soundtrack — nothing compares. You reach the lodge from the road via a rock path lined with flowers. The common lodge is a pleasant spot for meals and drinks around a fireplace. All cottages have wood floors and balconies looking over the valley (but arguably the ‘300s’ cottages have the best views). It’s about a 45-minute drive from Sapa.
Tel 020-872-404;, [email protected]; packages from Hanoi including train & meals from US$129 per person

The 77-room Victoria is Sapa town’s best choice, by far, but its views of Mt Fansipan now are shared with a strip of budget hotels that have popped up just below. Throughout is a mountain-lodge feel, with dark-wood floors, black/white Sapa prints on walls and local motifs on blankets and throw pillows. There’s WiFi in the lobby bar only. There’s a tennis court, an indoor pool, a woefully out-of-date spa (a renovation is planned) and a nice restaurant. You can use nice showers to clean up in before hitting the night train back to Hanoi. Also, the hotel has its own luxury carriages on Hanoi-Lao Cai train on all nights but Saturday (the return fair for deluxe cabins with two beds and restroom is $175/285 weekday/weekend).
Tel 020-871-522, in Hanoi 04-933-522;; rates from $165 Sept-Apr, from $126 May-Aug (see website for packages)