Opened in 1901, the Metropole is one of Southeast Asia’s oldest hotels, visited by the likes of Graham Greene, Prince William, Roger Moore and Ban Ki Moon. Accor took over the property in 1987 and renovated it to international standards. It opened in 1992 as a Pullman property, before becoming part of the Sofitel Legend collection. A new 135-room Opera Wing and office tower was completed in 1996, with the office block converted into guestrooms in 2008, bringing the total to 364 rooms and suites.
WHERE IS IT?
Steps away from the Opera House in Hanoi’s French Quarter, the hotel is in the heart of the commercial and business district. Noi Bai International Airport is a 45-minute drive away – a taxi costs around 450,000 dong (US$20), or you can book transportation with one of the hotel’s BMW 7 series.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Steeped in history, offering plenty of character for those with a penchant for the past. From the beautiful French colonial façade to the period details throughout the Metropole Wing, there is plenty to admire. Check-in was surprisingly slow, but with so much visual distraction, the delay was almost welcome. The newer Opera Wing offers more modern business-orientated rooms and facilities.
I stayed in a Premium room in the Opera Wing. At 32 sqm it was fairly small for a five-star property, but the space is used well and is handsomely decorated in a neoclassical style with dark timber floors, white wall panelling and plaster detailing on the ceiling. A large, official-looking mahogany desk offers a comfortable workspace by the French windows, with charming views over the interior courtyard and pool. The complimentary wifi was fast.
I found the queen-size signature “My Bed” very comfortable, and the pillow menu allows you to customise your sleep environment. Reading lights are located on both sides with easily controllable master switches, though there was a power point only on one side of the bed. The bathroom’s light marble décor is pleasant, and sports luxurious Lanvin amenities. Again, it felt slightly on the small side and the combined bath/shower offering felt a little bit dated.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
The hotel has an outstanding arsenal of F&B outlets. Le Beaulieu offers authentic French fare in an elegant dining room (with an extravagant brunch on Sundays). Adjoining it is the Parisian-style pavement bistro La Terrasse, providing street-side snacks and refreshments. Spices Garden offers a taste of Vietnam, with specialities from both northern and southern regions (cooking classes are provided for those who want to replicate the flavours at home).
Angelina is an Italian eatery that turns into a chic, late-night bar with a live DJ. My favourite drinking spot, however, was the poolside Bamboo Bar, with a traditional wooden roof and lovely bamboo fans. Try the Charlie Chaplin cocktail – named after the movie star who chose to spend his honeymoon at the hotel.
A smart conference and business centre is located in the Opera Wing, with three boardrooms, high-tech equipment and secretarial services. The hotel also offers a selection of larger event spaces, including the Thang Long Hall (catering to 160), elegant glass-enclosed L’Orangerie and the 300 sqm garden Le Balcon. The Club Lounge is located on the seventh floor of the Opera Wing, offering French breakfast, all-day refreshments, high tea and evening cocktails.
The two-storey Le Spa du Metropole offers seven rooms decorated in “Indochine” style (treatments start from US$55 for one hour). The outdoor pool is an idyllic setting, though is too small for laps, but the SoFit by Sofitel gym, open 5am-10pm, is compact and efficient, with a good selection of equipment. The Metropole Arcade boasts a selection of designer boutiques and the on-site delicatessen L’Epicure. A “night market” is set up in the evenings, with a few small stalls offering traditional handicrafts.
This hotel is all about the history. While I’ve seen more immaculate five-star offerings, the charming nostalgic ambience and beautiful environs completely won me over. A treat for those who appreciate character over the modern, cookie-cutter experience.
PRICE Internet rates for a Premium room with breakfast in mid-September start from US$329 including tax and surcharges
CONTACT 15 Ngo Quyen Street, Hoan Kiem District, 10000 Hanoi; tel +84 4 3826 6919