The Caravelle Hotel is located in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The hotel was opened to the public on Christmas Eve 1959, when the city was known as Saigon. Contemporary journalists noted its use of Italian marble, bullet-proof glass and a “state-of-the-art air-conditioning system and a Berliet private generator.”
The hotel’s modern design was the work of a Vietnamese architect, Mr. Nguyen Van Hoa, a graduate of Ecole Superieure des Beaux Arts in Hanoi. (Ref: "Caravelle-Saigon, A History" by VHSG, Saigon Culture Publishing House, 2009)
The original ten-story building is now adjoined to a 24-story tower that forms the bulk of the new property. However, the Saigon Bar has changed little since 1959.
Caravelle Hotel is owned by the state-owned Saigon Tourist Co.
During the 1960s, the Caravelle was home to the Australian Embassy, the New Zealand Embassy, and the Saigon bureaus of NBC, ABC and CBS. As a hub of communication, it became an noted location in the Vietnam War. See for example the Caravelle Manifesto. It also became part of Vietnam fiction and non-fiction literature, for example Danielle Steele's Message From Nam, Morley Safer's memoir "Flashbacks", &c.
On the morning of August 25, 1964, at around 11:30 am, a bomb exploded in room 514, on a floor occupied mostly by foreign journalists, who were all out on assignment. Nine rooms were damaged, windows were blown out of several cars parked in the street, and a number of people were injured without fatalities.
Following the Fall of Saigon in 1975, the hotel was taken over and operated by the government and renamed the Doc Lap (Independence) Hotel. And so it remained until 1998, when the Caravelle name was relaunched.