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Sofitel Metropole: Hanoi's Iconic HotelJanuary 1, 2007 By: Jonathan Siskin Travel Agent
Historic property in the heart of the city's French quarter is an A-list favorite
Hanoi is the cradle of Vietnamese civilization, the capital of a nation that has overcome the tribulations of war and is looking optimistically toward the future. Vietnam's economic upsurge over the past decade has been accompanied by a steady rise in tourism to Hanoi and other cities and destinations across the nation. Much of this increase is due to vast improvements in infrastructure, from the construction and upgrading of hotels and restaurants to the expansion of international airline service.
There is no more historic hotel in
in the heart of
French quarter. Built in 1901, this grande dame of Asian hotels has hosted an
A-list of VIPs from heads of state (like presidents of the
France) to renowned writers (Somerset Maugham, Noel Coward, Graham Greene) and
big name entertainers (Robert DeNiro, Catherine Deneuve, Mick Jagger).
Nowadays, Sofitel Metropole is often frequented by diplomats
and journalists, and was a main gathering place during the recent Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC) attended by President Bush and leaders of
Western and Asian nations.
The hotel is divided into two sections, the original
109-room Metropole Wing and the more contemporary 126-room Opera Wing. Major
renovations of the entire property were completed within the past two years;
all rooms and suites in the Metropole Wing were redesigned and upgraded by the
end of 2005 with the addition of elegant new furnishings, woodwork, ceiling
fans, ceramic lamps and photos of
bygone era adorning the walls. Meanwhile, 38 rooms were added to the fourth
floor of the Opera Wing, and all rooms were redecorated with new textiles and
artwork by the beginning of October 2006.
Bathrooms also were completely updated with a transparent
bathtub, imported marble tile flooring and separate rain shower stall as well
as decorative light fixtures. All rooms in both wings also feature the latest
amenities such as Sofitel's "MyBed," broadband Internet access, 32-inch
flat-screen TV and DVD player.
Suites in the Metropole Wing are named after famous people
who have stayed here. The most requested are the Graham Greene Suite, Charlie Chaplin
Suite and Somerset Maugham Suite, all of which have Jacuzzis and come with
butler service. Suites are bookable via phone and e-mail but not through the
GDS. Contact General Manager Gilles Cretallaz (84 4 826 6919, ext. 8000; [email protected]).
Dining is first rate at the Metropole's restaurants, which
are also open to non-guests. The moderately priced
combines traditional and innovative Vietnamese cuisine with an attractive
terrace view and also serves a daily luncheon buffet. The more upscale Le
Beaulieu is one of
favorite French dining venues. For both restaurants, it's recommended that
couples reserve a table at least a day in advance, while groups should book
three to four days ahead. Call 84 4 826 6919, ext. 8208 or contact [email protected])
There are also other special food-related events and
activities at the hotel, including
only chocolate buffet, which is available every afternoon in the Le Club
Champagne Bar. Guests can choose from more than 20 kinds of fine chocolate from
also sample other goodies like chocolate fondue and chocolate jelly with
passion fruit. Hanoi's Best Buys
There are also half-day cooking classes available during
which guests go shopping for ingredients at local markets and later prepare and
enjoy a meal together at the
Quality restaurants located nearby include Bobby Chinn (
4 934 8577), which serves an eclectic selection of European, Asian and Middle
Eastern dishes and is the place in
to see and be seen. The Emperor Restaurant (18b
in Vietnamese cuisine, while Wild Lotus (
known for its take on Vietnamese fusion.
Chief concierge Pham Cong Thinh (84 4 826 6919 ext 8110; [email protected])
organizes city tours in the hotel's vintage 1953 Citroen. Among the highlights
of a tour are visits to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Temple of Literature
(Vietnam's first university, dating from the 11th century), One Pillar Pagoda,
Stilt House, Vietnam History Museum and the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum, which has
samples of works from classical to contemporary.
There are also shopping tours that stop at
old quarter near
where items for purchase include embroideries, silk, lacquer ware, jewelry and
furniture. The Metropole also has stores that sell a selection of luxury brand
streets for shopping are Hang Trong, Hang Gai and Nha Chung.
Clients thinking about tying the knot here should know that
weddings can be arranged for up to 300 people and offsite catering is provided
on request; contact Nguyen Xuan Dinh, events manager (84 4 826 6919, ext. 8221).