The city’s largest lake, known locally as Ho Tay and situated north of the hanoi?context=travel-guide&country=vietnam">Old Quarter, plays home to this whitewashed hotel whose layout mimics the form of an open lotus flower. The main building houses about half the rooms, most of the lounges and restaurants, and a bright atrium lobby whose focal point is a seven-meter crystal chandelier. A walkway, lit at night by torches, leads out to a small island that’s home to the Sunset Bar (no surprises on the name), and three pavilions with additional rooms built on the lake. Accommodations start at a generous 460 square feet and feature contemporary furnishings, marble and wood floors, stone wall accents, Vietnamese timber shutters, roomy soaking tubs, padded leather headboards, and private balconies with views of the lake or Hanoi’s skyline.
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Originally home to an enclave of villas where Vietnamese royals would summer—the villas have been converted to temples or pagodas—the area stands in contrast to frenetic downtown Hanoi or the tight Old Quarter. When a paved road was built around West Lake in 2010, creative expats and locals moved in, opening upscale boutiques and restaurants, and the area now has some of the city's best restaurants and shops. These include gallery-store-café Hanoi Design Centre (91 Au Co, Tu Lien), minimalist home decor shop Module 7 (83 Xuan Dieu), and Don’s Bistro (16 Lane 27 Xuan Dieu), named one of Asia’a 50 Best Restaurants in 2014. In front of the hotel, the 800-year-old Kim Lien (or Golden Lotus) pagoda is one of the most intact examples of ancient architectural vernacular in the city. Tran Quoc Pagoda, a bit farther south on the lake, was built in the sixth century and is the city’s oldest pagoda. Nhat Tan Village, in Tay Ho district, is famous for its flower gardens and blooms of peach flowers, chrysanthemums, globe amaranths, honeysuckles, and carnations. It’s popular with the wedding-photo crowd. The Tay Ho Weekend Market, every Saturday morning till just after noon, is packed with stalls of ethical food producers and is an engaging place to while away a couple of hours.
Need to Know
Rooms: 259 rooms, 34 suites. From $140. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: The dinner-only Milan specializes in Italian cuisine, from osso buco with saffron risotto to salmon spaghetti or pizza baked in a wood-fired oven. The glass-fronted kitchen at Saigon adds a theatrical element to the Vietnamese dinners. Brasserie-style Café du Lac, with views of the lake (naturally), is open all day. Spa and gym details: The 24-hour health club next to the main building has the usual cardio equipment as well as a sauna and steam room. The spa, currently being built, will be completed in late 2015.
Who's it for: Couples who want a private, quiet experience away from the Old Quarter; shoppers obsessed with luxury labels; gourmands wanting a selection of international restaurants close by. Our favorite rooms: The over-water panoramic view rooms look out across West Lake. Fishermen sometimes come close enough that guests can count the scales on the day’s catch. For lovers of fashion: During the Diplomat Lounge’s Fashion High Tea, held on the second Saturday of every month, two local designers stage a show to unveil their latest collections. The spectacle pulls in locals and expats.