The Metropole opened in 1901, although it has changed names for substantial periods since then and has been completely rebuilt, albeit in the style of the original hotel, and subsequently expanded. As an example, the 135-room Opera Wing and an office tower were completed in 1996, with the office block converted into guestrooms in 2008, bringing the total to 364 rooms and suites. At present, however, the heritage Metropole Wing is closed until at least 2024 for renovations, and so the room inventory is currently 255.
The ‘Legend’ part of the hotel’s title indicates it has an illustrious history, which it certainly does, complete with a bunker under the hotel dating back to the Vietnam War. A free 30-minute hotel history tour is conducted every afternoon at 5pm. It’s worth noting there are a lot of stairs in this hotel, and getting from one part of the hotel to another can be cumbersome.
Where is it?
In Hanoi’s French Quarter and in the heart of the commercial and business district. Noi Bai International airport is a 45-minute drive away.
What’s it like?
Very traditional. Dark wood floors, rotating ceiling fans, liveried staff and lots of prints displaying fascinating stories from the past and famous former guests. There are two lobbies, though the Opera Wing lobby is the one (mainly) being used while renovations are ongoing. There are two banks of lifts either side of a stairway, though as one of these is for staff, you can sometimes wait quite a while. There are seven floors in the Opera Wing, with the Executive Floor at the top.
I was in a Premium room in the Opera Wing (32 sqm). The rooms need refurbishing, unfortunately. There are no USB charging ports and a power point on only one side of the bed. There was also no coffee machine, just sachets of Nescafe and teabags. On the plus side, the light switches were simple to operate with easily controllable master switches. There was also a sizeable desk for working, a walk-in wardrobe, and the windows could be opened (after deactivating the child lock). The rooms have air conditioning, but it was very slow to chill the room.
The small bathroom had a shower accessed by stepping into the bath, but there were full-size Balmain toiletries on the wall. Executive rooms get access to the executive lounge also on the seventh floor, but compared to most executive lounges it is very nineties in both design and offering, though I liked the atmosphere created by the pianist in the evening.
Food and drink
The hotel has an outstanding arsenal of restaurants and bars, and ironically, the refurbishment of these venues showcases what the hotel could be if it was thoroughly updated. Le Beaulieu offers French gastronomy in a gorgeous room, while adjoining it is the Parisian-style pavement bistro La Terrasse for street-side snacks and refreshments. Breakfast in Spices Garden was sub-standard for a hotel of this tier. Angelina, formerly an Italian restaurant, now serves Australian and US food and has an impressive double-height bar. The Bamboo Bar by the pool is quiet, relaxing and feels like you could be at a resort instead of in the middle of the city.
There is a conference and business centre on the upper ground floor of the Opera Wing, with three boardrooms and secretarial services. The hotel also has larger event spaces, including Thang Long Hall (catering to 120), L’Orangerie and the 100 sqm garden Le Balcon.
The Le Spa du Metropole has eight rooms decorated in “Indochine” style (treatments start from around US$95 for one hour). The SoFit gym is open 7am-11pm but to get there you have to take a lift down to the lobby, walk past the restaurants and meeting facilities, back outside and then finally enter the spa – not easy in slippers and a robe. The outdoor pool is an idyllic setting.
This hotel has an enviable history, but new renovations would be welcome. Until then there is the nostalgia and excellent service, as well as Le Beaulieu restaurant.
- Best for A meal at the refurbished Le Beaulieu restaurant
- Don’t miss The complimentary tour of the hotel’s bomb shelter
- Price Internet rates for a Premium room with breakfast in mid-February start from US$375 including tax and surcharges
- Contact 15 Ngo Quyen Street, Hoan Kiem District, 10000 Hanoi; +84 24 3826 6919; sofitel.com