Sea Spa: Old World Romance at The Sofitel Legend Metropole, Hanoi
by Caroline White
Where is the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel?
On the corner of a gracious, tree-lined street in the French quarter of Vietnam's Hanoi, The Sofitel Legend Metropole is a Belle Epoque beauty with a dazzling history. From the hard wood staircase that sweeps up from the grand entrance hall, manned by brass-buttoned doormen, to the elaborate wrought iron and glass that backdrops the courtyard garden and pool, it is packed with old-world romance.
Every passing dignitary and starlet from Noel Coward to Angelina Jolie has rested their head here, and during the Vietnam War Joan Baez took refuge in the hotel’s bomb shelter (which you can visit following recent excavation) composing the song “Where Are You Now, My Son?” based on her experience. But the hotel really returned to the limelight earlier this year, when Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un held their summit there. The hotel’s hideaway Le Spa is the perfect spot for high-profile guests to unwind in privacy and low-key style.
What spa treatments to have?
The Relaxing Aromatherapy Treatment is 60 or 90 minutes of scented bliss, perfect for soothing muscles tense from exploring this bustling capital city. The therapist offers guests honeyed tea while they choose a fragrant oil (the spa uses products by Sothys, Ytsara and Laurent Severac) before ushering them to one the elegant treatment rooms – either decorated in a deep-toned and sensual Asian theme or a colonial style with dark plantation floorboards and white louvres. The massage itself is intricate and expertly pressured, the therapist pulling-off cat-like acrobatics to apply exactly the right strokes to precise muscle groups. Rooms have attached showers for refreshing afterwards.
Bars and Restaurants at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel
The Metropole offers some of the most atmospheric spots in Hanoi to sip a cocktail. Angelina, where barmen climb a ladder to pick spirits from glinting shelves that run up to the ceiling, offers low-lit glamour while La Terrasse comprises a French-feeling row of tables under curling wrought iron at the front of the hotel. Or spend the afternoon in the islandstyle Bamboo Bar a few steps from the pool, installed in a big straw chair, cooled by rattan fans and sipping Bamboo Air cocktails: sweetened with lychee, fizzing with prosecco and spiked with tequila.
Best by boat
Leave your yacht at the Hon Gai anchorage or Quang Ninh maritime port, near Ha Long Bay, then charter a local yacht for a day exploring this ancient-feeling UNESCO-protected seascape of tree-covered limestone karsts. When you’re done, either helicopter into Hanoi, or make the easy 50km drive (the hotel will arrange a VIP transfer).