Destination Guide


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More traditional and steeped in nostalgia than Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi is well worth a short visit. Hanoi has a scenic and surprisingly serene center in Hoan Kiem Lake, as well as historic neighborhoods with gorgeous colonial villas and a buzzing Old Quarter, whose streets are lined with small shops and food stalls.


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Pool Lounge at Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, Hanoi, Vietnam

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

The city’s most storied hotel, opened in 1901 and managed by French group Sofitel since 1989, is the only five-star property in central Hanoi. Its two buildings, the original Metropole wing and more recent Opera wing (so called because it fronts the street that leads to the Hanoi Opera), enclose a beautiful courtyard with a pool and adjacent lounge plus a leafy garden, creating the feeling of a serene resort within a city. The lobby in the original French-colonial villa contains a massive wooden check-in desk, a grand staircase and a light-filled atrium. The sense of history is so strong you can almost see the ghosts of Graham Greene (who has a suite named after him) and Somerset Maugham floating through the elegant spaces.

Which wing you should book in depends entirely on your taste and sensibility. The 109 rooms in the three-story Metropole wing have soul; the 255 ones in the seven-story Opera wing have space and big bathrooms. In the Metropole wing, colonial-inspired rooms have wide-plank hardwood floors, teal-green shutters, gracefully sloped fauteuil and high ceilings. Modern touches included a Philips flat-screen television, Jacuzzi bathtubs in the Metropole Suites, L’Occitane or Hermès bath amenities and Wi-Fi. Those requiring more space may prefer one of the rooms in the newer addition (which was renovated in 2007), many of which have spectacular views of Hanoi, dashes of color and more modern decoration. Indagare Tip: Be aware, however, that groups traveling together are often booked in the Opera wing, so its lobby is busier than the elegant arrival oasis on the other side.

Among the highlights of the property are a gorgeous multi-level spa, five restaurants (including excellent French and Italian outposts), the Epicerie de Metropole (a mini grocery serving coffee, pastries, chocolates, sandwiches and housemade ice cream), two vintage French cars available for tours and a UNESCO World Heritage site on site: an underground bunker that was discovered in 2011, and which can be toured daily.

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