Our trip features the finest luxury hotels in Vietnam, including the renowned Metropole in the verdant embassy quarter steps away from Hoan Kiem Lake.
The Metropole, built and named in 1901 was for decades under the French, host to ambassadors, statesmen, writers and celebrities (with a few suites named after them, including Graham Greene and Charlie Chaplin). After the war it became the Reunification Hotel, but became a private hotel again in the 1990s under Sofitel when we became one of the very first tour companies to began sending travelers there. The premier hotel in all of Vietnam, if not Indochina, the Metropole is the place to stay Hanoi. With an ideal location only a block away from Hoan Kiem Lake in the heart of the city within walking distance of many sites, including the Old Quarter, and only three blocks from our Hanoi office on Tran Hưng Đao Street.
Following extensive renovations in the early 1990s and late 2010, including a surprising uncovering of a forgotten war-era bomb shelter, visitors today can enjoy the charm of an impeccably restored turn-of-the-century hotel in the heart of the capital. All 363 rooms and suites, both in the original Metropole wing and the newer Opera wing, provide extensive international services and facilities befitting Vietnam's most famed hotel.
There are two wings in the Metropole—the Historical Metropole Wing is from another era, literally, but has been upgraded to modern, while retaining its dark woods and Colonial prints, while the newer Opera Wing dazzles with its art-nouveau style. Both wings have a lobby, although the Metropole wing is where guests will want to spend time, with comfy sofas and papers, two restaurants and a wine bar within sight. The Opera Wing Lobby underwent an upgrade in early 2008.
In 2012 a renovation construction crews rediscovered an air raid shelter in the back garden of the Metropole and has opened the excavated bunker for its guests to explore. The 40-square-yard bomb shelter has been restored to its original state as a tribute to the hotel’s wartime employees, who ushered guests into the relative safety of the underground chamber from the mid-1960s through the Christmas Bombings of 1972.
Metropole Historic Wing (French-colonial)
Metropole Opera Wing (newer, modern, quieter)
Legendary Suite Bathroom
The classic or historic wing provides an old, colonial feel and matching decor including hardwood floors, faded pictures and four poster beds combining to evoke the grandeur of a bygone age.
The Charlie Chaplin Suite here is the biggest and nicest of the hotel. The Opera Wing is more hip, with modern flair and Danish furniture design. The rooms here are noticeably brighter, airier and more contemporary than their cousins over in the Historic Wing.
Opera Wing Grand Prestige Suite with club floor access
Opera Wing Grand Premium Room with Club Metropole benefits and king-size bed
Historical Wing Legendary Suite (with Club Metropole benefits and king-size bed)
All 363 guest rooms and suites equipped with A/C (H/C), satellite TV, LCD, and DVD player, IDD phone, Security peephole, personal safety-box, mini-bar, radio/music system, RJ 11 outlet , voice mail, data port, coffee/tea making facilities, bathtub, specially with Sofitel's MyBed and broadband Internet.
In a city lacking comfortable luxury hotels, the Metropole is an oasis, from its spacious club floor lounge (with iPads), gym, thrilling bomb shelter (below), and refreshing pool, it is the top choice to begin a Vietnam trip with kids. Oh, and a highlight will be the daily, afternoon chocolate buffet.
The elegant Spices Garden Restaurant offers fine Asian cuisine with a local flavor in a pleasant glass atrium, while Le Beaulieu, a long-time favorite venue for fine dining in the capital, serves up the best of French cuisine and fine wines. Le Beaulieu Restaurant is also the hotel's breakfast location (unless you are on the Club Floor). Le Club Bar is the perfect venue for drinks and its afternoon chocolate buffet has become a Hanoi tradition. The Met Pub is unrivaled as the city's most popular bar with live jazz, good snacks and a well-stocked bar.
Le Club Bar. A light airy lounge bar with large windows overlooking the courtyard garden, Le Club Bar has always been the perfect venue for drinks with friends and colleagues and the afternoon tea at Le Club is not to be missed, complete with its absolutely decadent chocolate buffet.
The Met Pub is the city's most popular bar with wonderful live music, great food and a large selection of beers, spirits and whiskies. The Bamboo Bar, by the central pool, offers snacks and lunch for those loathe to leave the pool, and also a cool place to enjoy an evening cocktail. La Terrasse du Metropole brings the ambiance and coffee of Parisian cafes to Hanoi's streets.
Uncovered, completely by surpise, during renovations the Metropole has turned the large shelter into a multimedia historical tour—not to be missed.
Los Angeles' top chef Neal Fraser of Grace and Red Bird fame has lead several Iron Chef tours with us in Vietnam, since the 1990s (at right with Metropole Executive Chef André Bosia.
Our unprecedented culinary cycling adventure features pedaling through the scenic country roads along Vietnam's central and southern coast and into the central highlands while sampling Vietnam's diverse and distinctive cuisine in each region. There are few places that provide for a culinary adventure on par with Vietnam. This trip will highlight the distinctive cuisines of each region with a mix of activities, including hands-on cooking, kitchen and market visits.
We charter only the small, handful of boats on Halong Bay (out of hundreds) that offer the highest quality for private Halong Bay cruises and semi-private cruises (sharing a boat). These wooden cruisers (often misleadingly called "junks") are not the old ships that plied Halong Bay and Hong Kong Harbor in decades past, nor are they sleek chrome and fiberglass yachts with amenities you would find in the Caribbean, Turkish coast, or in the nearby Gulf of Thailand, as the government does not yet allow foreign operators to cruise on Halong Bay.
The Halong Bay boats we charter are well maintained, comfortable, with an attentive crew. In addition to the crew, you are accompanied by an experienced guide from our Hanoi office to ensure your cruise is perfect and to provide escort by kayak.
Newer boats are launched each season, often replacing some of the charter boats below. We do not recommend the larger cruise boats, such as the 36-cabin Emeraude or Halong Ginger, being also constructed of wood can be crowded and noisy not to mention cruising a rote itinerary through the bay. All charters include an option for kayaking with our experienced guide in tandem or single kayaks. On board dining is wonderful, with an array of Vietnamese, seafood and Western dishes, and any dietary requirements can be arranged, as well as special occasions celebrations, such as birthdays or anniversaries.
A Sofitel M Gallery property is a refurbished, rustic Art Deco hotel housed within the former colonial governor's mansion that spread over five acres on the banks of the Perfume River. The property languished for more than a quarter of a century as a run down government hotel but the former colonial mansion has been restored to its past elegance and grandeur with two newer additional wings
Many of the 122 rooms and suites offer fine views of the river looking over to the ancient Royal Citadel. La Residence offers good Vietnamese cuisine, in a city lacking fine dining for the most part. There is also a spacious garden area and large saltwater pool overlooking the river. Amenities include a gym and tennis courts. The spa is one of the finest in the country with trained Thai masseuses.
Until recently, operated for many years by the Life Resort chain. Hoi An's only luxury property situated in town. Ideally located on the Thu Bon River only block away from the main market, nonetheless the resort provides a pleasant oasis with easy access to the town. This in-town alternative to staying at the beach resorts (located several miles out on the coast), should be considered during seasons when the weather on the coast is not ideal.
New renovations in 2007, and 2010, and 2012 have left the hotel in good condition. With a fine location overlooking the river and steps from all central sites, including the market, tailors, and restaurants, the hotel can serve as a convenient base for multiple outings into town throughout the day, including the market as fisherman arrive before dawn. We recommend the balcony river view rooms.
Our take: A solid 4+ star property. The finest property within town, providing easy access to all the charms of Hoi An. The location allows for multiple strolls to the town's attractions, including the central market (only a block away). Consider staying here if weather will not be ideal at the Nam Hai along the coast, 20 minutes away by car. Recommended room: Junior Suite River View..
La Residence d'Angkor was a longtime favorite fromerly of the Pansea group of hotels (including the Governor's Residence in Yangon and Phuo Vao in Luang Prabang). Belmond (formerly Orient Express) has continued the quality and authenticity that made La Residence Siem Reap's most charming and pleasant property, and like many of their other hotels, features an ideal location on the Wat Bo side of the river within a block or two of the town's main attractions, including the night market. Dark teak wood runs throughout and is furnished in the local style, with the addition of modern comforts and luxurious touches create a welcoming but understated atmosphere.
The hotel has 54 spacious king-bedded or twin rooms and eight newly-renovated suites rooms that are the largest in Siem Reap. All have luxurious spacious bathrooms with with generous free-form baths. All rooms also offer individually-controlled air conditioning and free wireless Internet connectivity available in all guest rooms. The hotel complies with World Bank environmental standards and has a policy to protect the environment and promote sustainable development in Cambodia.
Luang Prabang's finest within the old town property, located in a quiet end of the town limit on the Mekong. The property, the last residence of the Laos Royal Family, is operated by the long-popular Victoria chain, with several properties in Vietnam. Sitting next to the famous Wat Xiengthong Temple, the hotel enjoys beautiful views of the Mekong River in a serene location at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers.
The 26 elegantly-appointed rooms and suites feature the essence of Laos’ unique culture and style, with locally-sourced materials and traditional textiles. The rooms are moderate in size, as are public spaces, a bit on the smaller size. Several pleasant waterfront cafes and restaurants just steps away with view of the river.
Indochina Notes: A rustic French-Colonial property this hotel is a fine, four-star property but stands out for its excellent location, in a quiet end of town yet within walking distance. Note to families - the pool is a pond, adequate for wading only.