To begin my insane Qatar Airway mileage run for AAdvantage Executive Platinum status I first needed to get to Vietnam. It took nearly a full day of flying and a fairly tense bus ride, but before I knew it I finally arrived at the Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon. I’d be in Vietnam for about 20 hours (11pm to 7pm) so I decided to book a room to freshen up. Since my goal for the entire journey was to stay on CST I didn’t plan on sleeping in Vietnam so I didn’t actually need a bed, but rather just a place to store my bags and shower.
I chose this property because it’s classified as a Marriott Category 5 property. Since it’s a Category 5 Marriott I used my annual Free Night Certificate from the Marriott Rewards Premier credit card to “pay” for the room. The nightly rate was less than $150 meaning this wasn’t the best use of a free night certificate, but I still used the certificate in an attempt to keep my out-of-pocket expenses to a minimum during this mileage run.
Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon Location
I also chose this property due to its location. The hotel is located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh city and walking distance from several of the tourist attractions I wanted to visit.
I also chose this location because supposedly offered incredible views of the Saigon river. I specifically chose a Riverside room so that I’d get to enjoy the sunrise over the river in the morning.
From the airport the Renaissance Hotel Riverside Saigon is just a 30-40 minute cab ride. Taxi’s cost approximately 112,000 VND (~$5). I didn’t realize how inexpensive Taxis were prior to taking one so I instead took the airport shuttle bus into town for 20,000 VND (~$1). The shuttle bus took about the same amount of time and dropped me off in front of the Sheraton Saigon Hotel which is just a 5 minute walk from the Renaissance Riverside Hotel.
Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon Check-In and Lobby
Once at the hotel I made my way inside and immediately recognized the refreshed Renaissance branded lobby. The hotel reception is just inside the main entrance. Most of the receptionists spoke english so I was finally able to get answers on where to go and what to do with my time in Ho Chi Minh.
Upon checking in I also request late check-out. Since I maintain SPG Gold status, a benefit offered with my American Express Platinum card, I also maintain Marriott Gold status. As a Marriott Gold Elite most hotel properties offer late check-out as late as 4PM when available. The receptionist couldn’t push check-out as late as 4PM, but did allow for a 3PM check-out. This was perfect because I didn’t plan on leaving for the airport until 3-4PM.
Also inside the lobby of the property is a newly refreshed Renaissance R-Bar. The bar was empty when I arrived at 1am, but seemed nice enough.
The second floor features a full service restaurant which is where guests can enjoy a sit down or buffet style breakfast in the morning and lunch or dinner options later in the day.
Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon Elevators
I wouldn’t typically focus on an elevator car in a hotel review, but these elevators are worth mentioning. These were among the strangest elevator cars I’ve ever seen in a hotel property.
Angled mirrors and LED light strips line the inside of the elevator car. The mirrors and lights lead to an interesting hall of mirrors effect as seen above.
While the design of the elevator car is neat, the functionality of the elevators is downright difficult. Guests must of course scan their hotel keys to go up to a floor from the lobby, but also scan to move between floors. I found this especially odd when moving from the 18th floor back down to the 7th. On several occasions I didn’t scan my key in time and moved in the wrong direction.
Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon River View King Bed Room
Once off the confusing elevators (the bellhop scanned me up the first time) I made it to my River View King Bed room.
From what I’ve read perviously about Vietnam it’s not exactly safe for visitors to drink the tap water. Next to the bed I found two complimentary bottles of water and the receptionist mentioned additional bottles were free upon request.
One of the more unique features of this room is the control panel next to the bed. This panel controls all of the lights within the room. Every room should feature a similar control panel next to the bed.
Just across the room from the bed was a large flat screen TV and desk.
Surprisingly the desk had a few water bottles for purchase which was surprising considering water was complimentary otherwise. The desk also had a few mini-bar type snacks for purchase.
The room also featured an espresso machine.
The bathroom within the king bed room was quite spacious although a bit dated.
A variety of amenities were on top of a box in the corner of the bathroom vanity.
It’s nice to see the hotel proactively provide things dental and shave kits in each room. One of the stranger aspects of my room was the second bathtub.
Lastly, after the sun came up the room came with a fantastic view of the Saigon river and Heineken billboards.
Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon Concierge Lounge
One thing I hadn’t realized about this property when I booked the room was that it offered a Concierge Lounge. The lounge is available for Marriott Gold Elite members and higher. When I asked the Receptionist about breakfast in the morning he recommended I visit the lounge over the hotel’s breakfast buffet. I took him up on the recommendation which appeared accurate.
The Concierge Lounge isn’t much too look at. Walking it the space looks like older Marriott or Renaissance Concierge Lounges found throughout the world. Although the space wasn’t fantastic, the breakfast spread was plentiful. The lounge divides food stations into a few different cutout sections within lounge. The first section offered traditional breakfast pastries, cereals, and yogurt. The middle section offered hot breakfast items such as eggs, sausage, bacon, and a few other Vietnamese style meats. This area also contained a ton of fresh fruits. Lastly, the third section of the lounge was a made-to-order Pho station. This area also offered meat dumplings which I ate more than my fair share of.
The Concierge Lounge also offered guests complimentary bottled waters, soft drinks, and juices. I grabbed a few bottles of water before heading back to my room so that I’d have water when walking around muggy Ho Chi Minh city.
Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon Rooftop Pool and Bar
I’m kicking myself now but I was so intrigued by the views from the rooftop that I didn’t end up taking any pictures of the pool or rooftop bar. The pool is in the center of the rooftop deck and plenty large to swim and enjoy. I wanted to sit by the pool with my feet in the water, but the pool’s drain runs off the sides so you couldn’t sit by the pool without getting wet. Still, the rooftop pool is a nice space to go and relax after a long day of walking around the city.
Above the pool is the enclosed rooftop bar. The bar isn’t all that large, but does come with spectacular view of Ho Chi Minh City.
The view to the North highlighted the massive construction projects.
The view to the east (Saigon River) showed the oddly underdeveloped part of Ho Chi Minh.
While the view to the South showed the insanely congested condos and homes within Ho Chi Minh.
Overall the rooftop pool and observation deck was a welcomed oasis above the city where guests can relax after exploring the city.
I really enjoyed my time at the Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon. I found the guest rooms, concierge lounge, and fitness center a little dated, but the lobby and restaurants are newly renovated. I’d imagine it’s only a matter of time until the hotel updates the guest rooms and other areas of the property.
One of the most welcomed amenities of the property was the blazing fast hotel WiFi. At the hotel I was able to FaceTime a few friends back in the US and download a few episodes of Stranger Things without a hiccup. Most hotel WiFi isn’t great, but this hotel offered fast and reliable WiFi throughout the property.
Overall, I enjoyed my short stay at this hotel and would consider staying here again. The hotel proved a nice jumping off point to explore the city. After loading up on complimentary breakfast, water, and coffee I had enough energy to walk well over 7 miles throughout the city. After walking all morning I enjoyed coming back to the hotel and resting by the rooftop pool as a light rain moved through the city. I was glad the hotel let me check out late and just after 3PM I hailed a Taxi from the lobby to take me back to the airport.