Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

15 Phố Ngô Quyền, Tràng Tiền, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 010000, Vietnam

A 1901 landmark in Hanoi’s French Quarter, the colonial-style Sofitel Legend Metropole has long been a celebrity magnet, welcoming presidents, ambassadors, and literary and cinematic royalty into its marble lobby. Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene both wrote books here (The Gentleman in the Parlour and The Quiet American, respectively); Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Goddard celebrated their honeymoon at the property; and Jane Fonda and Joan Baez took to the bomb shelter beneath the hotel during air raids (book the complementary Path of History Tour, held every day at 5 and 6 p.m., for a chance to see where they hid out).

The 364 guest rooms are divided between two wings: The historic Metropole section has decor shaped by French architecture and Vietnamese culture (think wood floors, louver windows, bird-cage lampshades, and porcelain light fixtures); the newer wing, opened in 1996 just across the traffic circle from the Opera House, has a strong Neoclassical edge with rooms in dramatic red, black, and white. With its green awning, filigree ironwork, and outdoor wood-deck seating, La Terrasse has the feel of a Parisian café, while Le Beaulieu restaurant serves classic French fare and a decadent Sunday brunch. Spices Garden showcases Vietnamese flavors, and three drinking dens—sleek Angelina, gentlemanly Le Club Bar, and poolside Bamboo Bar—appeal to every kind of spirits lover. Between the central courtyard garden and the pool sit the SoFit gym and Le Spa, with eight rooms for soothing East-meets-West treatments.

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Sofitel Legend Hotel: Old-World Vietnamese Charm

“I love the old-world colonial feel of this hotel,” says Yotam Ottolenghi, chef at his eponymous London restaurant. “Everyone has stayed here, from Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene to Jane Fonda and François Mitterrand.” Bell boys in pillbox hats welcome guests to this grand dame, which dates to 1901. Located in the French Quarter of Old Hanoi, it’s the perfect respite from the scooter traffic and sensory overload of the nearby food markets. Choose from three restaurants: Spices Garden for traditional Vietnamese cuisine; Le Beaulieu for fine French dining; and a new Italian restaurant, Angelina.

Cooking Schools: Vietnamese Food in Hanoi

The Hotel Metropole in Hanoi is renowned for its regional Vietnamese cuisine. Sign up for a “Culinary Journey” and accompany the chef to a local market. After lunch at Spices Garden restaurant, retreat to the kitchen to prepare some of the dishes you just ate, including pho.

Legendary Suites

The property’s Metropole wing houses three suites named for former guests Charlie Chaplin, Graham Greene, and Somerset Maugham. Maugham stayed here in 1923 to finish his book about travelling in Asia, The Gentleman in the Parlour; Chaplin honeymooned with Paulette Goddard after they married in Shanghai in 1936; and Greene came in 1951 as a correspondent for Paris Match and wrote The Quiet American while staying at the hotel. The Somerset Maugham Suite, on the first floor, has a spacious living room and a dining room perfect for entertaining, while one floor up, the Graham Greene Suite has colonial armoires, antique ceiling fans, and views of Paul Bert Park and the Parisian-style Government Guesthouse. On the third floor, the Charlie Chaplin Suite features wood panelled walls hung with a series of Chaplin’s portraits, a chaise longue, and a collection of his films ready for viewing.

Le Beaulieu Restaurant

Le Beaulieu might be the oldest restaurant in operation at the same location in Vietnam and has been serving guests for over 114 years. The restaurant produces sublime French food, often using local ingredients—and has received wide acclaim for its creations, led by Chef Olivier Genique. The kitchen creates inventive dishes like pan-fried foie gras with mango and beet or Nha Trang Lobster Thermidor, with most of the produce coming from farms in Da Lat, a town on a mountainous plateau in Vietnam’s southern highlands.

For Old-School French Dining

If it is innovation you crave, look elsewhere in Hanoi. However, for complex and creamy sauces as well as classics such as foie gras and cote de boeuf, the Metropole’s signature restaurant is the place to come to. Expert service and a great wine list add to the allure.

Prime People-watching At Hanoi's Most Storied Hotel

Almost everything at the legendary Metropole Hotel is rarefied—even the al fresco drinking. The property’s outdoor terrace offers comfortable seating, quality service and plentiful opportunity to kick back, relax and watch the street scenes unfold.

Le Spa du Metropole

Though not part of the hotel’s original design over a century ago, the Metropole debuted Le Spa du Metropole 2010, which overlooks the pool and courtyard, and which has won numerous accolades since opening. The 4,300-square-foot facility has seven treatment rooms and a calming décor with plenty of whites, dark woods, and flashes of deep red silk. The therapists use Clarins and Ytsara products, plus oil blends by Laurent Severac, and combine the best of East and West wellness techniques. Dawn on Halong Bay is a 90-minute organic facial with green tea and bamboo shoot extract, and the After Shopping Leg Reviver uses a Thai wooden stick and reflexology to refresh guests after a day wandering the streets of Hanoi.

Sustainable Development

The hotel places a quiet emphasis on social awareness and environmental responsibility. This includes using eco-friendly cleaning products and certified sustainable paper for printing documents, refusing to serve endangered sea food products, and training staff on responsible actions towards the environment.

The magic of the Metropole

With its style, atmosphere, and history, Hanoi’s Metropole is simply one of the region’s most unforgettable experiences (the ceiling fans alone are to die for)—even if you just pop in for some tea at the cafe.

Wartime Air-Raid Shelter

Throughout my time living in Vietnam, I was often fascinated by the reminders of the war that can be found with little searching. In 2011, one of the iconic hotels of Hanoi uncovered a forgotten remnant of the troubled times while undertaking some renovation work. Builders at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi happened upon an old bomb shelter utilized by the hotel’s guests – a guest list that consisted of foreign refugees, some of whom were rich and famous. Now, two years later, the shelter has been restored to its working condition, but the network of underground tunnels and chambers is available only to current guests staying at the luxury hotel. It’s certainly a quality that makes the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi unique – how many other five-star hotels can you think of that list a bomb shelter among its list of features?

Hanoi from Above

The chaos of Hanoi contributes to its magnetic charm. After spending the day dodging motorbikes and street vendors, a contemplative and solitary atmosphere awaits you at the Summit Lounge of the Sofitel Plaza Hotel. Perched on the top floor of this exquisite hotel, the balcony view is the best spot to share a quiet evening of drinks and snacks with friends or a significant other while you view the stream of lights and buzzing traffic from afar.

Best place to stay in Hanoi.

Ask for a room in their historic wing, rather than their modern annex. Excellent hotel to use as your base: the lake is just a couple blocks away, and makes for the best walking/running track in town. Concierge desk was very helpful, esp., making restaurant reservations, and providing directions. I never touched the door coming in or out - service is stellar here.

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