The Luxe List 2010, Laos: Amantaka, Luang Prabang

Merit-making is one of the many cultural immersion programs on offer at Luang Prabang’s top billet, where you can earn good karma by delivering steamed Mekong fish and braised vegetables to Buddhist monks. A well-executed conversion of the town’s onetime colonial hospital, Amantaka has just 24 neutral-hued suites, none smaller than 65 square meters, and all furnished with restraint under soaring ceilings. When you’re done exploring the manicured grounds, tour any number of surrounding temples with Amantaka’s knowledgeable guides. Alternatively, climb aboard the hotel’s custom-built boat for a cruise along the Mekong, or strike out on unguided explorations of neighboring sights like the night market. The attentive restaurant staff greet all guests by name; rely on them to point out the best local dishes on the menu, but save room for the sublime sticky rice pudding with wild mango.

55/53 Kingkitsarath Rd., Ban Thongchaleun; 856-71/860-333; doubles from US$600

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