This French-Colonial style hotel opened in 1901 and its guests have included Charlie Chaplin, George H W Bush, Vladimir Putin etc. Condé Nast Traveler regard it as the best hotel in Vietnam.
Since I started travelling in the Far East again, in November last year, I have come across Sofitel brands that were new to me. Sofitel So in Bangkok, with Christian Lacroix as its designer, and now Sofitel Legend. Sofitel So is their hip/trendy/young brand, while Sofitel Legend started 7 years ago with the Hanoi hotel and includes historic properties such as the Sofitel Legend People's Grand Hotel Xi'an in China.
I met Trang (she works in the hotel's Marketing & Communications area) in one of the two lobbies in the hotel. Christine Lagarde from the IMF was checking out that day and so it was a big day for the hotel.
We started the tour looking at some of the rooms. They were large, tasteful and with beautiful views of the pool etc, but it was the suites that really got my attention.
Metropole (Original) Wing
The hotel's 364 rooms are divided between the original and 1996 wings (with a lobby in each). In the old/original wing are the three Legend Suites.
Charlie Chaplin Suite
I was shown the Charlie Chaplin suite, where Sir Charles stayed on his honeymoon, after his 1936 (3rd) Canton wedding to actress Paulette Goddard.
It was so tasteful, luxurious and 'human' in proportions with warm Vietnamese red colours and stunning white orchids.
There were various portraits of Sir Charles, a beautiful bedroom with the Sofitel 'MyBed' which looked like a place where you would get an incredible night's sleep and a bathroom with a jacuzzi, Hermès Orange Verte bath products and a separate shower.
Chocolate Buffet, Pool, Bomb Shelter etc
On the way to the Opera Wing we saw the Chocolate Buffet (available from 3 - 5:30pm) in Le Club. Over 20 varieties of chocolate are imported from France & Belgium to create the Chocolate Buffet.
Next it was the 'outdoor' Bamboo Bar and pool, The pool looks beautiful but not that large for swimming. However, not many pool areas can boast a 1960s bomb shelter. It was rediscovered during a 2011 refurbishment and guests can tour the two corridors and 5 small rooms. I assume this bunker is why the pool cannot be larger.
We then took a quick look at La Boutique (the hotel's high-end gift shop) and L'Epicerie du Metropole selling foie gras, Veuve Clicquot etc
Next it was Angelina, the hotel's elegant Italian restaurant. A photo of famous guests Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie had me talking about her Louis Vuitton commercial, filmed in Cambodia, again.
Opera (New) Wing & the Imperial Suite
Finally we viewed the Imperial Suite. My breath was taken away by its size and style. I was interested to learn Christine Lagarde decided to stay in one of the less expensive Legend Suites instead. Maybe she, and the IMF, had Dominique Strauss-Kahn and suite 2806 at the Sofitel New York, on their minds.
Trang told me many European guests prefer the history of the Legend Suites. Apparently the price of the Imperial Suite did not put David Beckham off.
The suite has a small 'spa room' with massage bed and a stunning contemporary bedroom. It was a real thrill to be allowed to see all this.
Cocktails in the Bamboo Bar
After such an incredible tour, I decided to try the cocktails in the Bamboo Bar by the pool. They started by making me a perfect very dry Grey Goose martini. However, I decided such a fantastic tour meant I glass of Veuve Clicquot was called for. After this I also had to try their Charlie Chaplin gin, apricot brandy & lime juice martini, which was refreshing and delicious.
Before I left the hotel I had a chat with the concierges. The two ladies were brilliantly friendly & helpful. I wanted to eat in another restaurant run by a charity that helps 'street kids' and was told KOTO was where I needed to go. I also asked about Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum but was told it was closed on Fridays.
🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻(6 out of 5 ‘teddies’) - charming & cheerful Trang, the elegance of the whole hotel and seeing the Charlie Chaplin & Imperial Suite get Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi the extra 'teddy'. My tips: even if you are not going to stay in the hotel, have a cocktail in their Bamboo Bar and speak to the concierges.