Sofitel Legend Metropole

District 1 Hanoi, Hanoi & North, Vietnam Book from

Reviewed by Tom Bell
Grand, gracious and graceful - one of Hanoi’s favourite hotel tickles the pleasure receptors and draws an eclectic crowd
If you love big hotels, you’ll fall head over heels for this grand dame of French colonialism. This is one of Asia’s finest - as good as the city in which it stands - and its enormous central courtyard holds gardens, a swimming pool, a spa, restaurants and a bar: the best place in town for cocktails before supper. Flaming torches flicker in the night, uniformed waiters swoop with martinis… even the stoniest heart will know a moment’s happiness here.

Bedrooms may not be the strongest suit, not because their colonial delights fail to seduce - far from it - but merely because you are away from the glitter and gossip. Make sure you settle in for afternoon tea (there is a chocolate buffet of epic proportions), while the Senses Garden Restaurant cooks up some of the best Asian food you’ll ever eat. If that's not enough, there's a further 4 restaurants, bars and cafes to get drinks meals, snacks and light bites in. As for the ladies who run reception: huge smiles, gorgeous uniforms and an eager willingness to help their guests. It’s got all the right ingredients for a perfect stay, and with the Hoan Kiem Lake right on your doorstep, you couldn’t be better placed to explore downtown Hanoi.

Highs

  • Fabulous history: this is where the first film in Indochina was shown and Charlie Chaplin spent his honeymoon
  • The chocolate buffet at afternoon tea is unmissable
  • The service is impeccable - there are even bells by the pool loungers with which to summon a waiter
  • Delicious food in a huge range of restaurants; some of it was the best we tasted in Vietnam
  • Hanoi itself. It's a yard of Vietnam’s finest cloth and one of Indochina’s great cities

Lows

  • It's far bigger than most i-escape hotels, and it pains us to feature a chain hotel, but it is quite simply the best in town, and the most distinctive to boot
  • Such luxury and history do not come cheap
  • The Premium Rooms (Opera Wing) don’t have quite the flair you might expect of them
  • Breakfast can get very busy, though you can opt to eat in any of restaurants or cafes
  • Rooms overlooking the street can get noisy, and some rooms have undersized bathtubs

Best time to go

This is a 365-day city. The driest months are November to March, but light spring rains often fall. The rainy season is May to September. Hanoi is in the north and thus temperatures fall much lower at times. It’s not a bad idea to make this a last stop before heading home; then you won’t have to lug all your shopping around with you.

Our top tips

This is a big city with a big buzz. You won’t appreciate it if you rush in and rush out, so try to come for 3-4 days and perhaps combine it with an overnight cruise at Ha Long Bay.

Great for...

City Style
Foodie
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Luxury Hotel
  • 360
  • Restaurants and bars (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Exercise classes
  • Historical tour
Room: Grand Luxury Room  (Historical Wing)

Rooms

Rooms are split between the Historical Wing (original building) and the Opera Wing (new building). They come in different shapes and sizes, anything from the relatively simple but charming Luxury Rooms (Historical Wing), up to the anything-but-simple Prestige Suite (Opera Wing).

The Luxury Rooms and Grand Luxury Rooms are in the Historical Wing and keep their traditional colours pinned to their sleeves with varnished wood floors, shuttered windows, wooden bedheads and crisp white linen. Some have high ceilings, others overlook the garden, and all have hanging lanterns instead of bedside lights. Bathrooms throughout come in fine style, with marble floors, mirrored walls and bathrobes to pad about in.

The remaining rooms are in the Opera Wing. They tend to be airier and come with restrained contemporary good looks - the odd roll of fancy wallpaper, padded leather bedheads, panelled walls painted white, perhaps a strip of fabric hanging above the bed. That said, they still retain a formal air with ceiling roses, shuttered windows and varnished wood floors. The smaller Premium Rooms and the Premium Rooms with Terrace feel elegant and spacious; the Grand Premium Rooms and Prestige Suites come with Club Metropole benefits (which includes 24-hour butler service and complimentary afternoon tea and cocktails), making them a good option for those celebrating a special occasion.

All rooms are technologically sound with flatscreen TVs and DVD players (there’s a film library at reception or you can buy your own in the market for next to nothing). There are minibars, ceiling fans and air-conditioning to keep you cool.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

The Metropole’s kitchens are a highlight of a stay here, and even though Hanoi has some good places to eat, you’ll want to book in here as often as you can. You have several choices:

La Terrasse du Metropole is a French-inspired pavement café to the front of the hotel, where you can tuck into your saucisson sec (similar to salami) while watching Hanoi’s badminton enthusiasts play in the local square. Light bites and plats du jour are served here from 7am-midnight.

Inside, you find Le Beaulieu restaurant (think smart French bistro in Aix-en-Provence with an Asian twist). The Sunday brunch is a Hanoi institution and draws locals in their droves. The menu features dishes such as freshly baked croissants, fried tofu, chicken noodle soup and fresh fruit; have as much or as little as you’d like, all accompanied by an extensive tea list.

Past reception is Le Club bar and restaurant. Here you find one of Hanoi’s greatest culinary experiences: the Metropole’s afternoon tea. You can chose from the chocolate buffet (cake stand after cake stand overflowing with irresistible chocolate delights) or the more formal option (cakes, sandwiches, the odd chocolate treat); alternatively have them both for a tiny surcharge. There are over 20 different types of tea to wash it all down with. Le Club also serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the room acts as the hotel’s sitting room with live piano music throughout the day.

The Bamboo Bar is in the courtyard and overlooks the swimming pool, making it a great spot for evening cocktails, with flaming torches fluttering in the breeze. The informal menu here is the same as Le Club: pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and toasties, croque monsieur, sashimi, yellow noodles with seafood and coriander.

Some of the best Asian food we ate was at the hotel’s Senses Garden Restaurant. Dig into scallop soup with Dalat artichokes, grilled chicken stuffed with Sapa chestnuts, then red persimmon and grapefruit sorbet.

Breakfast is served all over the place and offers a full buffet of fresh fruits and juices, home-baked croissants and pastries, bacon and eggs or noodle soup, freshly-brewed tea and strong coffee.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cooking classes
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Wind down in the fabulous spa, which offers a whole host of lovely treatments, massages and body wraps
  • Sign up for a cookery class at the hotel; half-day and full-day courses are available
  • Stroll round Hoan Kiem Lake: it’s on your doorstep and is a focal point for Hanoi's citizens. In the early mornings it's teeming with joggers, power-walkers and people doing tai chi. Pop over the famous red bridge to reach the temple in the centre of it
  • Wander the maze-like Old Quarter and check out Dong Xuan market, Hanoi’s largest. The 36 Streets area in this quarter is brimming with artisan shops - each street specialises in a different trade and is named accordingly: Hang Bac, Silver Street; Hang Huong, Incense Street; Hang Ma, Paper Street and so on
  • Head up to West Lake and hire a spectacularly kitsch swan pedalo
  • Visit Ho Chi Minh’s house next to the President’s Palace, then salute the great man in all his embalmed glory in the next-door mausoleum
  • Wander the streets of the French Quarter and drop into the cathedral, or head west to the Temple of Literature, which dates to 1070AD
  • Take a trip to Ha Long Bay, where 1,500 limestone karsts rise from the sea, and go on an overnight cruise

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome but there are no specific facilities for them and the pool is not supervised. Kids aged 2 and under stay free in a baby cot; children aged 3 to 11 years can stay for free in their parents' bed (must be requested); over 3s in an extra bed are charged the full extra-bed rate.

Family friendly accommodation:

All rooms can accommodate an extra bed or baby cot except the Luxury Rooms (Historical Wing), which can fit a baby cot only.

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
9/
Food
10/
Service
9/
Value
10/
Overall

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