Hanoi is one of the most charming, frantic cities in Indochina, and the Sofitel Metropole Hanoi is its best hotel by a mile. Right in the middle of the action, at the heart of the Old Quarter of the city, the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi is a veritable oasis with the charm and atmosphere of a bygone era.
While most parts of the Old Quarter are colonial in style, there are some communist buildings, including Ho Chi Minh’s impressive mausoleum, and you can easily walk to many of these historic and cultural landmarks from the hotel.
Managed by Sofitel since 1989, the hotel has 364 rooms and is divided into two parts: the historic wing, which is very French, and the more contemporary Opera wing, which has been stylishly renovated. This wing also incorporates an Executive Floor and Club Lounge. These floors are on the upper levels and include suites offering personal butler services. Both sides are nice, so don’t fret about which one to choose. The Opera side was teeming with groups of French, Australian, Spanish and Italian guests and, as far as I could work out during my stay, it is definitely more group-oriented. So if you are travelling alone or as a couple, I would go for the three-storey Metropole side, otherwise it can feel like you are surrounded by tour groups. Rooms on the Opera side have high ceilings, dark wood floors, with dark-green shutters, ceiling fans and beautiful white linen on the beds. With rates as low as $275 during low season, it is popular with large touring groups, which do feel like they take over the hotel as they pass through, but it feels more glamorous in the evenings when these groups melt away into function rooms.
French influence is everywhere from the the super-expensive Hermès shop in the outdoor corridor to the greetings of ‘Bonjour Madame’. I loved the hotel from the moment I arrived, with its central courtyard and lush gardens, chic pool and multi-level spa. It is not a top five-star luxury hotel but it has its own special place. I enjoyed sitting out on La Terrasse and watching the craziness of the city while having a morning espresso. I felt as if I had stepped into a piece of Hanoi history: the hotel survived bombing during the Vietnam War and Joan Baez wrote a song, Where Are You Now My Son?, when she was in the air-raid bunker of the building. Other guests have included ambassadors and heads of state, and its famous residents have included Somerset Maugham, Graham Greene and Charlie Chaplin, all of whom have suites named after them.
Hanoi is fascinating. I really fell in love with the city and the hotel. It was perfect for my two-night stay.
- Daily breakfast for two
- Room upgrade upon arrival
- Subject to availability, not applicable to Grand Premium or Suites
- Food & Beverage credit
- US$75 or equivalent credit to be used during your stay, mini bar excluded,
- Hotel experience
- Afternoon tea with chocolate buffet OR a glass of champagne in Bamboo bar or Le Club bar for two
- Early check-in / Late check-out
- Subject to availability, restricted times apply
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
Exclusive benefits may vary by hotel or hotel group. Exclusive benefits apply when booking the Best Available Rate and are not combinable with any hotel offers or special packages unless stated.
- Detailed Review +
- Facts & Amenities +
I arrived late afternoon and entered through the more modern Opera wing side of the hotel (which I assume is reserved for groups). The lobby has a black-and-white marble floor with a fabulous chandelier in the centre. To the left was the big reception desk, which was very busy, and to the right, the concierge desk was in an area with plenty of sofas and chairs for guests. I was greeted cheerfully in French, which is the default language of the Vietnamese staff. Bellboys in their traditional blue, brass-buttoned uniforms and pillbox hats rush around the busy lobby and point you in the direction of the reception desk. A female member of staff, in a traditional white uniform and pretty, round silk hat, politely welcomed me, asked for my credit card and passport and then explained where my room was. No one accompanied me. There were large groups of people in the lobby and it all felt a bit frantic. I was glad to disappear into the lift and up to the third floor.
Rooms and suites
As I stepped into my room I immediately noticed the dark polished, hardwood floor and the colonial atmosphere. In the entry corridor there was a cupboard immediately to the right, behind white shuttered doors, with a small hanging space, gorgeous silk dressing gowns, some small drawers, a large safe and a full-length mirror behind this. Just past this was the bathroom.
In the main bedroom there was a dark-wood suit hanger and bench to hold a suitcase. Next to that was a Chinese dresser with silver handles, which was in fact the minibar, with a flat-screen TV above this. In the corner was a very nice writing desk (with writing paper in the drawers), facing into the room with a lamp and phone. The room had large, colonial-style windows with white net floor-length curtains and green shutters on the outside, looking out onto the side of the hotel into the street. Despite being on a busy road, the room was extremely quiet. Heavy dark-green curtains ensured a good blackout at night, and the air conditioning was silent. To the right of the window there was a red upholstered, art deco-style chair with a silk cushion next to a small table; on it was a note from the GM with some fruit and nice chocolates.
The double bed had a wooden headboard with reading lights and a panel behind this, and there was very pretty cream wallpaper with black peonies painted on it. There were two dark-wood bedside tables on either side, each with a drawer. Both tables had complimentary water on each side and an alarm clock and pen and paper. There were dimly lit lights on either side of the wall by the bed. The bed had gorgeous linens with a heavy comforter and a white cover; there was a nice topper on the mattress too. To the right of the bed was an alcove containing a built-in dresser with a beautiful china teapot and matching tea and coffee cups, plus some white vases and ornaments. The room was not big at all but really well designed and well thought-out. During my travels it was one of the rooms I liked the best because it felt cosy and was quiet, dark and warm. The laundry service was very good and not too expensive. There were plenty of plug sockets and the Wi-Fi was very good throughout the property. I left my Kindle and my headphones on my bed when I checked out, and as soon as I contacted the hotel to tell them, I was told they had been found and they were immediately returned to me even though I was already in the northern part of Vietnam.
The bathroom was a smallish, grey marble-walled room with a mirror on one wall and red tiles on the walls around the one sink set in white marble. The area around the sink had plenty of room for toiletry bags. The shower was in the large tub with glass screens alongside the WC. There was plenty of complimentary bottled water in the bathroom (and bedroom) and weighing scales. Amenities included shampoo, conditioner, bath and shower gel and body lotion by Lanvin plus cotton wool, tissues, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush and cotton buds. It had a very good hairdryer, plenty of nice towels and excellent lighting with a vanity mirror.
The Sofitel Metropole Hanoi’s restaurants and bars – Angelina, Le Beaulieu, Spices Garden and Le Club Bar and Bamboo Bar – are all really popular venues. Le Beaulieu is more than 100 years old and is famous for its French food and its Sunday brunch with live violin music. Under the directorship of Executive Sous Chef Olivier Génique, it is a popular weekend spot for guests as well as outside visitors. Apparently Noel Coward was rather keen on the coq au vin at Le Beaulieu. Spices Garden is the Vietnamese restaurant and Angelina serves Italian food. I had dinner at Le Club Bar and ordered a salade Niçoise, which was nice though nothing extraordinary, but the bread was delicious. Cocktails were very good. I had a drink sitting at the incredibly atmospheric Bamboo Bar one evening, where I really felt as if I had stepped on to a movie set, with its traditional wooden roof and floors and ceiling fans made of what looked like Vietnamese handheld fans. Large rattan colonial chairs with rugs were dotted around the side of the bar. It was during the renovation of this bar in 2011 that they rediscovered the war bunker that had been closed and sealed since 1973. This is now open for guided visits, which is well worth doing. In addition, the hotel also has its own delicatessen and La Terrasse, a Parisian café with a wooden deck, tables and chairs spilling out onto the sidewalks next to the hotel.
Spa and wellness
La Spa du Metropole is in the middle of the hotel and its entrance is right next to the swimming pool. The main reception is downstairs, where you will also find SoFit, the fitness centre reserved for guests’ use only. Once you have checked in, you walk upstairs to a corridor; off this are the really beautifully decorated, colonial, shuttered treatment rooms. The space is about 400 metres square and there are eight treatment rooms, a manicure and pedicure room, steam, sauna, showers and a relaxation room. Unfortunately I did not have time to experience it first-hand but it looked wonderful. I could see they use Sisley products. Do book your appointments in advance as it was very busy. They offer yoga and tai chi on certain days but suggest you make reservations in advance.
Pool and beach
The pool, in the middle of the hotel, is in very public view of the bar and conservatory restaurant. It is not huge but it is a good enough size with sun loungers on two sides, and is a welcome respite in what can be a very hot city. Drinks and snacks are served around the pool.
There is no kids’ club but children are made to feel very welcome with colouring books and pencils and little bathrobes. They also have special rates for children at times too.
Staff and service
All the staff, despite being very busy, were extremely sweet and friendly. Everyone greeted you. I loved the fact that they all seemed to be rushing around but the service was seamless and efficient. Laundry was quick, not too expensive and all folded or on hangers as requested.
There were many nationalities in the Opera wing including, as I mentioned, large groups of tourists from France, Spain and Australia. There were not many Americans or English but we were there in low season and I am sure that changes. It is a glamorous hotel that deserves respect as far as dress code goes, and I wished that some of the guests hadn’t appeared in workout gear at breakfast time.
My bags were collected and stored until I had breakfast and, when I wanted to leave, my bags had already been given to the driver and were in the car. Very efficient. It was a very easy and fast check-out. I think they must be used to this, as they have to deal with huge groups – as they were doing on the day I left. My check-out took about five minutes.
How to get here
40 minutes by road from Hanoi International Airport