Hotel Metropole Hanoi

Friday 16th November 2018. Vietnam win 2-0 against Malaysia in the ASEAN Football Group A match. Malaysia fans are unimpressed.

Vietnam handed out a tactical masterclass as they defeated Malaysia 2-0 at the My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi on Friday.

Friday night in Hanoi is usually a celebration and the streets around the Lake with the Sword are (almost) closed to traffic. Just a few motorbikes weave their way amongst the cheering crowds, joining the hundreds – maybe thousands of young scooters carrying flags and tooting horns around the streets celebrating the football result. It’s not even Independence Day but all are carrying national flags and displaying red hearts or squares on their cheeks. Why is it that in Britain celebrating the national flag is seen as some extreme right perversion? Admittedly it’s not as nice a colour and pattern as some, but it’s all ours.

A few numbers. There are about 8 million people in Hanoi and maybe 4 million scooters. Or is it the other way round? It certainly feels that way. Unlike, say, Lahore where there are 4 or 5 people to a bike, in Hanoi it’s usually only one or maybe two, occasionally three and they swarm around the streets. Swarm, there’s no other word for it. Crossing the road is fun. You just step off the kerb, make no eye contact with the raging traffic, and walk across. Don’t try this at home.

First stop on the tour, the Metropole has a long history and has now emerged as one of the best hotels in Hanoi. We’re in one of the original rooms (not the new wing) and you can imagine the tension during the war. We tour the hotel’s bomb shelter, see pictures of the single person shelters on the pavement outside and listen to Joan Baez’ song “Where Are You Now, My Son?” written here during a bombing raid in 1972. John McCain is held in high esteem – much more than by his president.

Opened in 1901, this is one of the old colonial hotels of south-east Asia. Far from resting on its laurels, it has managed both to move with the times and retain its grandeur, combining modernity with old-school glamour, in the heart of Hanoi’s former French Quarter.

The breakfast is simply wonderful; if we had a “Top Ten breakfasts” then this would feature pretty highly. In fact, let’s start one and it’s straight in. So french, and so far eastern…a great combination. Where do they get those croissants made? And the mango panacotta…

We explore Hanoi with guide (and even on our own!) and take a great street food tour – the best way to experience local food. The Metropole serves the very best in “fusion” food at breakfast. We’re already overdosed on mango.

Hotel Metropole Hanoi

The verandah onto the street – perfect for a drink and to be seen…

A room in the original wing…

…not the Hotel’s everyday transport

…the pool

…keeping us going until dinner

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