The Sofitel Metropole Legend plays a special role in Vietnam’s capital city. It has long been considered as the top accommodation in Hanoi, with celebrities, diplomats and royalty all staying in the luxurious rooms. Built in 1901 by two French investors, this magnificent colonial building has lived through over one hundred years of tumultuous Vietnamese history. During the two wars Metropole Legend played a vital role, and in just 2011 a remarkable bomb shelter was discovered in the grounds. Now designated a UNESCO site it is an insight into the country’s past, and the hotel offers informative tours of this underground bunker.
The historic hotel was restored and refreshed in 1992 and in 1994 work commenced on the opulent 135-room Opera Wing, a modern extension. The grand Metropole building commands attention from the street and inside it is equally impressive. Wherever possible original features have been kept beautifully in tact including the wooden flooring and antique furniture. The new wing is quite different, a slick addition for guests who prefer a more up-to-date style of accommodation.
I was staying in the charming Metropole wing that has 106 rooms including 3 legendary suites (named after three renowned guests, including Charlie Chaplin who came to stay for his honeymoon). Room 128 was a perfect example of old-fashioned luxury, with Sofitel modern touches. After months spent touring contemporary hotels this bedroom was a welcome dose of character. Particularly memorable details in the room included the luxurious Vietnamese silk, ceramic lamps and rice-paper wall lanterns, all adding a touch of exotic orientalism. Modern touches ensure guests are extremely comfortable, a soft indulgent bed, flatscreen tv and air conditioning. The bathroom was equally grand, with separate shower and bath, framed vintage mirrors and Hermes toiletries from Paris, another reminder of the Metropole’s French heritage.
There are several dining outlets to choose from, including upmarket Vietnamese cuisine at Spices Garden and fine French food at Le Beaulieu. For an afternoon treat head to Le Club Bar for the famous chocolate buffet, all made in-house. The Bamboo bar, a recent addition in the central garden, is a calm outdoor option overlooking the pool, or alternatively the Terrace is popular with locals for coffees and snacks.
Breakfast is served in both restaurants, a feast of continental and traditional Asian dishes are available at the buffet or made to order. Enjoy the tasty homemade pastries or ask the chef to whip you up some French toast or omelette.
While staying at the Metropole make sure you join a daily Path of History tour to learn about the preserved bomb shelter in the hotel grounds. The hotel’s knowledgeable historian will educate you with fascinating facts and personal stories about the American war.
Steeped in history, this hotel truly deserves its legendary status. Whether you stay in one of the enchanting rooms or not, be sure to include a visit to this significant building in your Hanoi itinerary.
More information and book a stay at Metropole Legend here.