The Hanoi Metropole

A Destination for Your Bucket List

Touring the monuments, marketplaces and sidewalk eateries of Vietnam’s bustling 1,000-year-old capital is an exercise in overstimulation. The perfect antidote is a 110-year-old hotel with spacious guest rooms, fine continental food and one of Asia’s best poolside bars.

Hanoi is a city rich in history, where motorbikes buzz along broad boulevards past century-old French architecture, and the smell of tropical flowers mingles with the aroma of cooking noodles. For the last hundred years, the centre of life for westerners in the Vietnamese capital, which celebrates its 1,000-year anniversary this fall, has been the Metropole hotel. Built in 1901 by a pair of French investors, it has since housed just about every head of state to visit the city, as well as the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Mick Jagger and Jane Fonda (back in her infamous Hanoi Jane days). An aura of old world sophistication permeates the Metropole, from the dark wood paneling throughout the majestic lobby to the wide-bladed ceiling fans that swirl lazily in the thatched poolside Bamboo Bar. Following an extensive renovation in 2006, the hotel features three excellent fine dining restaurants (one French, one Italian and one Vietnamese), an épicerie selling French bread, cheese and charcuterie, an Hermès boutique and a world-class spa.

For the discerning traveler, getting to Hanoi has never been easier or more comfortable, thanks to Cathay Pacific’s business and first-class flights from Toronto and Vancouver, which feature fold-flat beds, duvets and their signature impeccable service. Once there, several of Hanoi’s most worthwhile sites are within walking distance of the Metropole, including the shores of Sword Lake, which teem with badminton games and tai chi groups in the early morning, and the Old Quarter, whose narrow streets are lined with shops selling everything from fine silks to pots and pans. The Old Quarter is also the place to try some of Hanoi’s renowned cuisine, including their signature pho noodle soup (typically eaten for breakfast) and fried catfish with dill and vermicelli. For a dose of Socialist history, Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum is nearby, where lines of Vietnamese pay their respects to “Uncle Ho” in his air-conditioned crypt. After a day of exploring the bustling city, you’ll be happy to return to the Metropole, an oasis of colonial tranquility amid the charming chaos of Hanoi.