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Hotel review: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi (Vietnam)

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.

Last spring, I enjoyed a great holiday in Vietnam, where some resorts far exceeded my sky-high expectations (and rank among the best hotels I have ever stayed at). Today, I am publishing my very last trip report about that vacation. I hope you are not suffering from a Vietnam fatigue by now :-). You can read all my trip reports here:


Today (October4, 2017): Review of Sofitel Legend Metropole (Vietnam).

Situated in the heart of Hanoi with its leafy boulevards and lakeside pagodas, this colonial-style hotel is ideally placed within walking distance to the famous Hanoi Opera House. Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi has been Hanoi’s legendary landmark since its establishment at the turn of last century and has always proved a popular rendez-vous spot for both business and leisure travelers. The hotel offers 364 rooms and suites, spread over two wings: the original grandeur is preserved in the historical Metropole wing, whereas the Opera wing offers a neo-classic elegance. Other facilities include French, Vietnamese and Italian restaurants, three bars, a heated swimming pool, and the luxurious Le Spa du Metropole.

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi features in my top 10 lists of the best luxury hotels in Vietnam and the best historic hotels in the world.

In this review (more info below my slideshow & Youtube clip):

  • Pros & things I like
  • Cons & things to know
  • My verdict
  • Tips for future guests & save money
  • Best time to visit
  • How to get there
  • Photos

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

*** Get the most out of your (luxury) trip to Vietnam with my online Vietnam travel guide ***


PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • The Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi enjoys an excellent location in Hanoi’s Old Quarter – also known as the ’36 streets and guilds ‘ – and is a short walking distance from many historical and cultural landmarks of the Vietnamese capital, such as the famous Paris-style opera house. Hanoi, one of the most beautiful of the colonial Indochinese cities, is often the start or end point of a trip to Vietnam (and so it was for me), and what a great welcome or farewell it is. Simply oozing charm and bustling with life, Hanoi is an eclectic blend of East and West, a glamorous mix of authentic Sino-Vietnamese culture with a French ‘joie de vivre’ ambience.
  • The hotel is divided into two wings and also feel like ‘two hotels in one’, with both wings centered around a charming inner courtyard (with garden and pool). The historic Metropole wing was inspired by classic French architecture with a hint of local Vietnamese style. The more contemporary Opera wing was added from 1994-1996, along with the Metropole Center office tower, whose offices were converted to additional hotel rooms in 2008. The Opera wing creates a harmonious blend between the historic and modern elements of the hotel, and great care was taken to respect the rich heritage of the site while installing the state-of-the-art technology. But the Metropole wing is the star of the property, and stepping inside its multi-storey lobby with wood walls, bamboo furniture and elegant chandelier is like a journey back in time.
  • The hotel’s past is riddled with history, one that is enriched with tradition. The hotel was opened in 1901, when it was constructed with a French Colonial architectural style in mind by its talented designers by André Ducamp and Gustave-Émile Dumoutier. The hotel was the first venue in Indo-China to show motion pictures. Following a period of independence in Vietnam during the 1950s, the property was later handed over to the Vietnamese government and renamed as Thong Nhat Hotel, meaning Reunification, and used as the government’s official guest house. During the Vietnam war, an expansive bomb shelter was built to protect guests in a safe space during air strikes. After the property gradually fell into disarray, it was restored to its former grandeur before being opened as a Pulman hotel in 1992 and later moving from the Pullman to the Sofitel chain with also the addition of the modern Opera wing.
  • When you stay at the Sofitel Legend Metropole, you will follow in the footsteps of the rich and famous: since its opening in 1902, the hotel has welcomed celebrated authors, actors, ambassadors and heads of state. Angelina Jolie, Catherine Deneuve, Jane Fonda, François Mitterand and George W Bush have all been guests here. Somerset Maugham wrote The Gentleman in the Parlour at the hotel. Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Goddard spent their honeymoon at the Metropole in 1936 after getting married in Shanghai. And Graham Greene stayed at the hotel in 1951 while writing The Quiet American. During the Vietnam war, the famous folk singer Joan Baez composed her song ‘Where Are You Now, My Son?’ within her hotel room, with the sounds of an air raid audible in the recording’s backdrop.
  • The hotel features 364 rooms and suites. The historic Metropole wing has 106 rooms and three legendary suites which are named after famous hotel residents and visitors (Graham Greene, Charlie Chaplin, and Somerset Maugham). The contemporary Opera wing offers 236 rooms (including 12 premium room with a terrace opening into a garden feature), 18 suites, and one so-called grand prestige suite. While Metropole wing rooms are charming but smaller, the Opera wing rooms are larger and have all been individually furnished and decorated in a neoclassical style. During my visit, I stayed in a luxury room in the historic wing, which – albeit small – featured a richly sculptured decor distinctive of 1920s France and most importantly, was immediately available at 6 am, when I checked in after my night train adventure from Hue to Hanoi (kudos to the hotel staff for allowing such an early check-in).
  • The historic Metropole wing and the modern Opera wing embrace a lovely and romantic courtyard at their center. Here, you find the rooftop garden balcony ‘Le Balcon’, which forms a welcome green oasis in the heart of the hustle and bustle of Hanoi. Complimentary Yoga (Mondays and Wednesdays) and Tai Chi (Tuesdays and Thursdays) classes are offered here from 7 to 8 am – the perfect way to stay in shape and relax the spirit.
  • Below the balcony, one finds a lovely heated pool, which makes swimming possible year round, even in Hanoi’s colder winter months. The pool is surrounded by several loungers with a covered pool bar – called the Bamboo Bar – at its end. Located in the hotel’s inner garden and directly accessible from the pool, is ‘SOFit’ the hotel’s luxury fitness center which is exclusively reserved for hotel guests.
  • Located in the center of the hotel, adjacent to the charming garden courtyard and pool, is Le Spa du Metropole, which blends harmoniously into its historic environment and enjoys a solid reputation as the best wellness center in Hanoi. Each massage area is private, allowing guests to meditate, recharge, and make the most of the spa experience. Using top products, such as Sisley, Clarins, Ytsara and Laurent Severac, Le Spa has diverse facilities: two themed spa suites for couples, six individual spa suites, one manicure and pedicure room, steam bath, sauna, showers, a relaxation room, and reception.

  • The Metropole three restaurants represent some of Hanoi’s most famous dining venues, each offering a different exotic experience. Le Beaulieu – just like the hotel more than 100 years old – is the hotel’s signature restaurant and has the best French fare in this corner of the world. Spices Garden is located in the Opera wing and offers Vietnamese cuisine. Angelina is also located in the Opera wing and is an Italian restaurant and lounge that may soon be replaced by a different dining concept (or so I heard). The hotel also has 3 bars: La Terrasse brings Parisian-style to the sidewalks of Hanoi; Le Club Bar treats guests to its famous chocolate buffet and cool jazz performances; and, finally, Bamboo Bar brings poolside lounging to the next level.

  • Located on the seventh floor of the Opera wing, the Club Lounge is for exclusive use of Club Metropole guests, offering exceptional and personalize service, beginning with express check-in and ending with departure services. At the lounge, guests can savor a typical French breakfast or complimentary tea, coffee and drinks, which are served all day long. In the afternoon the Club Lounge hosts a high tea; in the evening it serves cocktails.

  • The hotel features two shopping arcades with luxury retails (e.g. Hermes), one in a corridor of the Metropole wing’s lobby and one along the courtyard that connects the Opera and Metropole wing. Two shops are worth a mention. One of Hanoi’s finest French delicatessens, L’Epicerie du Metropole offers an appealing array of high-end imported European items as well as best homemade goods; the grocery is also renowned for gourmet delicacies, such as macaroons, homemade ice creams and chocolates of the finest quality. La Boutique provides a selection of exquisite Vietnamese lacquered goods and pottery made by skilled local craftsmen, a wide range of hand-tailored clothing, accessories, jewelry and linen as well as many Metropole signatures gifts and history book.
  • The hotel is managed by the Sofitel Legend brand, which represents a small collection of stately heritage hotels and palaces found in iconic cities around the world. Each landmark property in the collection is historic, some dating back centuries, and all with an enchanting backstory. These exclusive hotels are legendary places, and they’ve played host to legendary people. When you check in to one of Sofitel Legend’s luxury hotels, you’re stepping into a timeless story that’s still unfolding to this day. Other Sofitel Legend hotels are found in Amsterdam (Netherlands; read my review here), Xian (China), Aswam (Egypt), and Cartagena (Columbia).

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi is the best hotel in the Vietnamese capital (although there is not much competition at the moment). The property is very popular with both locals and tourists because of its historic character, green courtyard with pool, fine dining venues, modern comforts and Asian-French flair. Yet, you need to know the following when considering a stay here:

  • The rooms in the historic wing are charming but small (too small and cramp for some) and those facing the busy boulevard in front of the hotel may suffer from street noise. If you are a light sleeper, I recommend you to book a room with a view on the courtyard or a room in the Opera wing, which is located on a quieter street.
  • Beware when booking an excursion via the hotel. Although not the fault of the hotel, we booked a Halong Bay excursion via the tour desk in the lobby (which is managed by a third party), and although the scenery during the boat trip was mind-blowing, the excursion itself was poorly executed and the food offered on board was bad (and definitely not worth the excursion’s heavy price tag of $250 USD per person).

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 8/10
  • Design: 8/10
  • Pool: 8/10
  • Rooms: 8/10
  • Food: 9/10
  • Breakfast: 9/10
  • Spa: 9/10
  • Service: 9/10
  • Value for money: 9/10
  • Overall experience: very good: 8,5/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, whether it’s booking a room at the cheapest price or receiving complimentary VIP perks (e.g. upgrade, breakfast, resort credit, etc …).
  • Save money: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, $75 USD food & beverage credit, and afternoon tea with chocolate buffet or a glass of champagne in Bamboo bar or Le Club bar per person for maximum of 2 people).
  • Save money: If you book an AccorHotels (= mother brand of Sofitel) hotel online on any AccorHotels Internet site and find (within 24 hours) an equivalent offer on another website for the same hotel at a lower price, AccorHotels will honor the lower rate and give you a further reduction of 10%. All you need to do is submit a claim form.
  • Room tip: if you are a history buff, you need to stay in the old wing. But make sure to opt for a courtyard facing room to avoid any noise from the boulevard.
  • Vietnam travel guide: get the most out of your (luxury) trip to Vietnam with my online travel guide.
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Hanoi has a distinct winter and summer season. The mostly dry winter lasts from November to April and generally starts warm and sunny until December, after which cold winter weather sets in, accompanied by often persistent mist in coastal areas and frost in the mountainous area around Sapa north of Vietnam. The hot, humid and wet summer lasts from May to October, with peak rainfall from July to September. In general, March/April and October/November are the best months to visit the North in warm temperatures and under blue skies.


HOW TO GET THERE

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi is located a 30 minute drive from Noi Bai International Airport, the main airport serving the Hanoi area. Click here for a list of airlines that offer direct flights to Hanoi.


HISTORIC WING, EXTERIOR

HISTORIC WING, EXTERIOR

HISTORIC WING, EXTERIOR

HISTORIC WING, EXTERIOR

HISTORIC WING, EXTERIOR

HISTORIC WING, EXTERIOR

HISTORIC WING, EXTERIOR

HISTORIC WING, EXTERIOR

HISTORIC WING, EXTERIOR

HISTORIC WING, EXTERIOR

HISTORIC WING, EXTERIOR

HISTORIC WING, EXTERIOR

HISTORIC WING, EXTERIOR

HISTORIC WING, LOBBY

HISTORIC WING, LOBBY

HISTORIC WING, LOBBY

HISTORIC WING, LOBBY

HISTORIC WING, LOBBY

HISTORIC WING, LOBBY

HISTORIC WING, LOBBY

HISTORIC WING, LOBBY

HISTORIC WING, LOBBY

HISTORIC WING, LOBBY

HISTORIC WING, LOBBY

HISTORIC WING, LOBBY

HISTORIC WING, LOBBY

HISTORIC WING, LOBBY

HISTORIC WING, LOBBY

HISTORIC WING, LOBBY

HISTORIC WING, LOBBY

HISTORIC WING, LOBBY

HISTORIC WING, LOBBY

HISTORIC WING, LOBBY

HISTORIC WING, LOBBY

HISTORIC WING, LOBBY

‘PATH OF HISTORY’ CORRIDOR

‘PATH OF HISTORY’ CORRIDOR

‘PATH OF HISTORY’ CORRIDOR

‘PATH OF HISTORY’ CORRIDOR

‘PATH OF HISTORY’ CORRIDOR

LE CLUB

LE CLUB

LE CLUB

LE CLUB

LE CLUB

HISTORIC WING, GUEST ROOM FLOOR

HISTORIC WING, LUXURY ROOM

HISTORIC WING, LUXURY ROOM

HISTORIC WING, LUXURY ROOM

HISTORIC WING, LUXURY ROOM

HISTORIC WING, LUXURY ROOM

HISTORIC WING, LUXURY ROOM

HISTORIC WING, LUXURY ROOM

HISTORIC WING, LUXURY ROOM

HISTORIC WING, LUXURY ROOM

HISTORIC WING, LUXURY ROOM

HISTORIC WING, LUXURY ROOM

HISTORIC WING, GRAHAM GREENE SUITE

HISTORIC WING, GRAHAM GREENE SUITE

HISTORIC WING, GRAHAM GREENE SUITE

HISTORIC WING, GRAHAM GREENE SUITE

HISTORIC WING, GRAHAM GREENE SUITE

HISTORIC WING, GRAHAM GREENE SUITE

HISTORIC WING, GRAHAM GREENE SUITE

HISTORIC WING, GRAHAM GREENE SUITE

HISTORIC WING, GRAHAM GREENE SUITE

HISTORIC WING, GRAHAM GREENE SUITE

HISTORIC WING, GRAHAM GREENE SUITE

HISTORIC WING, GRAHAM GREENE SUITE

HISTORIC WING, GRAHAM GREENE SUITE

HISTORIC WING, GRAHAM GREENE SUITE

HISTORIC WING, GRAHAM GREENE SUITE

HISTORIC WING, GRAHAM GREENE SUITE

HISTORIC WING, GRAHAM GREENE SUITE

OPERA WING, EXTERIOR

OPERA WING, EXTERIOR

OPERA WING, LOBBY

OPERA WING, LOBBY

OPERA WING, LOBBY

OPERA WING, LOBBY

OPERA WING, LOBBY

OPERA WING, LOBBY

OPERA WING, LOBBY

OPERA WING, LOBBY

OPERA WING, GRAND PREMIUM ROOM

OPERA WING, GRAND PREMIUM ROOM

OPERA WING, GRAND PREMIUM ROOM

OPERA WING, GRAND PREMIUM ROOM

OPERA WING, GRAND PREMIUM ROOM

OPERA WING, GRAND PREMIUM ROOM

OPERA WING, GRAND PREMIUM ROOM

OPERA WING, GRAND PREMIUM ROOM

OPERA WING, GRAND PREMIUM ROOM

OPERA WING, GRAND PREMIUM ROOM

CLUB METROPOLE

CLUB METROPOLE

CLUB METROPOLE

CLUB METROPOLE

CLUB METROPOLE

SPICES GARDEN RESTAURANT

SPICES GARDEN RESTAURANT

ROOFTOP GARDEN

ROOFTOP GARDEN

ROOFTOP GARDEN

ROOFTOP GARDEN

ROOFTOP GARDEN

ROOFTOP GARDEN

ROOFTOP GARDEN

ROOFTOP GARDEN

POOL AREA

POOL AREA

POOL AREA

POOL AREA

POOL AREA

POOL AREA

POOL AREA

POOL AREA

POOL AREA

POOL AREA

POOL AREA

POOL AREA

POOL AREA

POOL AREA

POOL AREA

POOL AREA

POOL AREA

POOL AREA

POOL AREA

POOL AREA: BAMBOO BAR

POOL AREA: BAMBOO BAR

POOL AREA: BAMBOO BAR

POOL AREA: BAMBOO BAR

POOL AREA: BAMBOO BAR

POOL AREA: BAMBOO BAR

POOLSIDE SNACK: CAESAR SALAD

LE SPA DU METROPOLE

LE SPA DU METROPOLE

LE SPA DU METROPOLE

LE SPA DU METROPOLE

LE SPA DU METROPOLE

LE SPA DU METROPOLE

LE SPA DU METROPOLE

SHOPPING ARCADE

SHOPPING ARCADE

SHOPPING ARCADE

SHOPPING ARCADE

SHOPPING ARCADE

SHOPPING ARCADE: L’EPICERIE DU METROPOLE

SHOPPING ARCADE: L’EPICERIE DU METROPOLE

SHOPPING ARCADE: L’EPICERIE DU METROPOLE

SHOPPING ARCADE: L’EPICERIE DU METROPOLE

HISTORIC WING, EXTERIOR AT NIGHT

HISTORIC WING, EXTERIOR AT NIGHT

HISTORIC WING, EXTERIOR AT NIGHT

HISTORIC WING, EXTERIOR AT NIGHT

HISTORIC WING, EXTERIOR AT NIGHT

HISTORIC WING, EXTERIOR AT NIGHT

ANGELINA RESTAURANT: DINNER

ANGELINA RESTAURANT: DINNER

ANGELINA RESTAURANT: DINNER

ANGELINA RESTAURANT: DINNER

ANGELINA RESTAURANT: DINNER

ANGELINA RESTAURANT: DINNER

ANGELINA RESTAURANT: DINNER

ANGELINA RESTAURANT: DINNER

ANGELINA RESTAURANT: DINNER

ANGELINA RESTAURANT: DINNER

ANGELINA RESTAURANT: DINNER

ANGELINA RESTAURANT: DINNER

ANGELINA RESTAURANT: DINNER

ANGELINA RESTAURANT: DINNER

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: DINNER

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: DINNER

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: DINNER

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: DINNER

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: DINNER

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

LE BEAULIEU RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

HALONG BAY EXCURSION

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