The city’s former prison is now a pleasurable place to be locked up. Transformed into 23 smartly designed suites, this hotel has a central pillared courtyard and an elegant colonial feel—whitewashed walls, wilting eaves, shuttered windows in gunmetal gray. Only the two corner watchtowers suggest a penitentiary, though there is a whiff of institutional austerity. Standing a couple of blocks out of town, the hotel works better as a refuge rather than as an immersive urban Lao experience, although the hotel embraces vernacular architecture in the restaurant, cooking school, and spa, which are built of dark wood and raised on stilts. Its suites are well-proportioned and unfussy, but the private little lawns with each suite—even those with their own plunge pool—can feel hemmed in by the high walls. Guests may prefer to spend time by the courtyard’s shimmering pool or lounging amid the shrubs and palms. An enthusiastic international young staff join the soft-spoken Lao team, who can escort guests on bicycle trips to Buddhist temples or on kayaking excursions on the Mekong.