#Did you know?
Sofitel Metropole Hà Nội
Sofitel Metropole Hà Nội – was, and still is, one of those legendary hotels whose name represents more than the place itself. Built by two entrepreneurial French businessmen in 1901, opposite the Palace of the Resident Superieur in the heart of Hanoi and within walking distance to the famous Hà Nội Opera House, it immediately became the rendezvous for colonial society as well as “the place to stay” for visiting heads of state, ambassadors, civil servants, army officers, writers, entrepreneurs and the first tourists keen to see “the pearls of the French Empire.” It was refurbished in the 1960s and again in the 1990s – the latter in order to receive the influx of French tourists attracted to the country – and the hotel – following the release of evocative films like The Scent of Green Papaya and Indochine.
They were right to go there. Every room, including the Graham Greene suite where the author partly wrote The Quiet American, has kept its original wooden floor, and the Bealieu, the very French restaurant of the hotel, provides the same atmosphere it had since the mid-1930s, mainly thanks to its Art Deco style. The façade, built-in 1901, has not changed, nor the splendid staircase that some intrepid guests prefer to use instead of the more sensible, but not so romantic lifts that were a later concession to modernity.
Even if you do not stay at the Sofitel Metropole, a visit to the hotel is worthwhile. Sipping a coffee (what else?) in the café, or a papaya juice in the garden, with a little imagination (provided you ignore the new wing), you can feel the atmosphere that made Vietnam the dream it is now.
The Sofitel Metropole Hà Nội is, in fact, probably the only place where travellers can find the perfect mix of French style and Vietnamese smile. No other hotel in Hà Nội provides such an experience since none is as venerable.