You think that’s blue enough? C asked for the nth time as we sat along Sofitel’s pool area, the heavens drizzling down on our cold lemongrass juice, us waiting for the sky to turn into electric blues. We were itching to finish our hotel shoot and go out into the streets of Hanoi to look for grub and have our bia hoi too, rain or no rain.
|A COUPLE OF KOREAN TOURISTS IN FRONT OF US|
Our Hanoi trip didn’t start out so wet though. We arrived at the airport quite early, too early, really. The two-dollar mini-bus that the Internet said would be waiting for us at the arrival area was still nowhere to be found and we had to hitch a ride to the domestic terminal from a group of rushing European backpackers who seemed to be running late for their flight. From there, we finally found a bus that would take us to Hanoi’s French Quarter—for a couple of dollars more.
|LOVIN’ THE HANOI VIBE|
And from our bus window, I can see that Hanoi was the Saigon that never was. It was the Saigon that my mind made up from all the war movies I’ve seen as a kid—which got wiped clean when I actually set foot on Saigon a few years back. Hanoi still has that charm that I was looking for; narrow tree-lined streets, quaint crumbling old houses and elegant French architecture with just the right amount of decay to still be romantic.
|BUILT IN 1901|
And our hotel can’t be more than perfect with that setting. For a couple of days, we’re reliving the heydays of Hanoi at the Sofitel Legend Metropole. Built in 1901, it is one of the oldest hotels in town. And we can immediately glean from its facade that it is the real deal. The copper dome that once towered above its roof was already gone, but its form and décor still exudes that elegant French Colonial look that once pervaded this part of Hanoi.
Passing through a couple of vintage Citroen Traction cars, which by the way are available for rent in touring the city (talk about a city tour in style!), we were greeted by Metropole’s lovely staff who were garbed in very tight traditional Vietnamese ao dai dresses.
|INSIDE THE ORIGINAL METROPOLE WING|
The original lobby was a bit small but elegant nonetheles; a spiraling dark wooden staircase sits on one side, offset by a simple chandelier. And further down, the reception desk; turn-of-the-century appurtenances, arched doorways, carved wood paneling, marble floors and a wall set with ceramics painted with idyllic countryside sceneries. We were definitely transported back in time!
|OLD SCHOOL TELEPHONES, AND THEY DO WORK!|
With the influx of tourists coming in to Hanoi, Sofitel Legend Metropole has since added another wing to the original hotel. We were booked at the Opera Wing, the new one, which really was no problem with me as I easily get creeped out by really old hotels.
|CLEAN, DIGNIFIED HALLWAYS AT THE GROUND FLOOR|
|FUNKY COLORFUL CORRIDORS AT THE UPPER LEVEL|
Turning this way and that, into an open courtyard and finally into the new wing, we ascended towards our room. As the elevator door slid open, I was quite surprised how contemporary and colorful the corridor was.
The mood quickly shifted back to classic French Colonial as we entered the door to our Premium Room though; wood plank flooring, dark-toned furniture, muted wall colors and a Plaster of Paris-esque ceiling mold right above the bed.
|THEY HAVE AWESOME CHOCOLATES|
Decors are sparse, but well-balanced and fittingly done; a plush red chair on one corner, a framed lithograph print, simple lamps and delicate vases. But more importantly, there are welcome cubes of chocolate on our table! You know I’m not into sweets, but man, these are really good!
|THE PREMIUM ROOM, SPACED JUST ENOUGH FOR TWO PERSONS|
It was raining on and off during our Hanoi trip and we were caught with a particularly strong one later that afternoon. We really didn’t mind though, Sofitel’s signature and trademarked MyBed beckoned us for a much needed siesta.
|INTO THE UNDERGROUND BUNKER USED DURING THE VIETNAM WAR|
We woke just in time for the hotel’s Path of History Tour, a one-hour complimentary jaunt around Metropole’s premises, highlighting its colorful past, from Joan Baez’s monk painting at the lobby, right down to the bomb shelter near the pool area.
|SOFITEL LEGEND METROPOLE GLISTENS AFTER A HEAVY DOWNPOUR|
It was still drizzling when the tour ended, but still, we found our way to the Hang Dao area at Hanoi’s Old Quarter for beer and chow right after. And it wasn’t until past midnight when we taxied our way back to our hotel with a light buzz from all that bia.
|BUFFET BREAKFAST AT THE SPICES GARDEN|
The next day promised more rain as a light drizzle started to patter lightly through the glasshouse-like outer hall of the Spices Garden where we took our breakfast buffet. Metropole has actually three restaurants, but this one, right by the atrium was the most French-looking of the bunch. As they say, it is very Instagrammable, lol.
|VIETNAMESE BREAKFAST ALA LAKAD PILIPINAS|
|PHO ALL YOU CAN!|
And the food didn’t fall behind either. Besides the usual Western fares (crispy bacons!), they have traditional Vietnamese dishes, a pho station, and a vast selection of bread. We were busting our guts out as we prepared for another round of Hanoi walkathon. Which was just as well, we knew we’d burn them right off!
~ WE WERE HOSTED BY SOFITEL LEGEND METROPOLE FOR REVIEW PURPOSES, VIEWS & OPINIONS ARE ALL MINE.
Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
Address: 15 Ngo Quyen Street, Hoan Kiem District,
Contact Number: (+84) 4-382-66919
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