What is it, and where? Ho Chi Minh City's swankiest hotel by a mile, the Park Hyatt, which has just undergone a soft opening, towers over the ornate, red-roofed Opera House in central downtown. Luxe or less than? Decidedly luxe: its 238 rooms and 21 suites all come with colonial inflections (but not without modern business cons such as high-speed internet connections); buxom beds; marble bathrooms and wooden floors. The colonial bearing is a mere veneer, however, because rather than a revamped rice magnate's architectural gem, the eight-storey building is new. Who should visit? Five-star high rollers, certainly, but also those who don't take splendour for granted. Antiques pepper the Park Hyatt's public areas, the 20-metre swimming pool is fed by a three-tier fountain and the ground- and first-floor terraces allow discreet viewing of engagingly chaotic street life. The Park Lounge piano bar, meanwhile, with its warm, Stygian corners and sofa-to-ceiling louvred windows, is sure to become the rendezvous of choice for the next Graham Greene. What's on the menu? Asian fusion, eastern, western or can't decide? Take your pick from Opera, which specialises in Italian dining - al fresco if you prefer - and showpiece restaurant Square One for Vietnamese and other western delights. Both feature vast wine racks at their entrances, Square One appending a plush bar for good measure. Opera is an airy expanse of blond wood, smoked glass and steel; Square One, unselfconsciously urbane, is a dazzlingly successful collision of architectural styles, private rooms, open walkways and shadowy corners for those evading the paparazzi. What else is there to do? Not even the Xuan Spa or the adjoining Fitness Studio will keep you busy forever, so step out of the hotel in any direction and be bowled over by the incessant tide of two-wheeled humanity - literally, if you hesitate while crossing any road. Like much of Asia, Ho Chi Minh City is suffering in the race to replace the elegant old with the tasteless new, but you don't have to look or walk far to find its heritage: it's right there in the untold number of public buildings, stores and side streets that speak of a more decorous age. Anything else we should know? If the hotel seems oddly familiar, it probably is. Construction began in 1995 but funding wrangles exacerbated by the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98 triggered a series of protracted delays. What's the bottom line? Until the end of the year, room rates are US$160 to US$180 a night, excluding tax. The Park Hyatt Saigon is at 2 Lam Son Square, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, tel: 84 8 824 1234; www.hyatt.com .