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Published: November 13th 2013
Glad I had the Hotel Metropole picking me up. A uniformed gentleman whisked my luggage from my hands and me out the door and into my waiting car. On the console was cold water bottles and macaroons, a specialty of the hotel. The driver, in his impeccable English, told me it would be 45 minutes to the hotel, that I had WiFi if I wanted to work, and he pointed out points of interest along the way. Next year the huge modern airport terminal will be finished, and the following year a gorgeous new suspension bridge to cut the drive to/from the city to less than 20 minutes. Hanoi is quickly becoming a new world city. This is a non-tipping society, it was all I could do NOT to tip this wonderful guide into the city.
On arrival at Le Hotel Metropole, one enters another world, old world charm among a frenetic city of scooters and cyclos. I arrived at 11:00am and even though check-in wasn’t until 2:00pm, I was pleasantly surprised! A woman in a traditional silk -------- greeted me at the door and whisked me away, assuring me the luggage would follow. We walked down hallways , she
pointing out restaurants and shops, telling of historical points of the hotel. Across a courtyard, there is the pool, the spa, up a few stairs and into the new wing. Up the security elevator, you have to use your key card (no such security on the stairs, however) my room on the first floor facing the street.I sat at the large desk in the room and filled out the paperwork for check in, and she whisked away in her gorgeous uniform, making not a sound. My bags arrived seconds later and the bellman showed me the air conditioning, mini bar, lights, emergency placard, telephone procedure, asked if I needed by clothes pressed, then he was off.
I called the Spa to arrange an “anti-Jet Lag Massage” 90 minutes at 2:00pm. I had hoped for later, but later was fully booked. I went out to the pool, a true oasis in the city. Hanoi is hot, even in their winter, it was about 82 and 65% humidity, so it felt wonderful to sit on a cushy lounge chair under a large umbrella and order my first real Pho, 200,000 dong,, room charge, tax & service included. I swam and dozed,
then showered and went to the spa.
Upon entry is a tiny little desk and heavenly aroma. Two of us were signing in at one time. You choose the scent for your treatment room, I went with an energizing one to, hopefully, make it to a reasonable bed time tonight. You have to climb about 20-25 steps to get to the dreamy treatment rooms. THIS HOTEL IS NOT FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE TROUBLE WITH STAIRS! My room has it’s own dressing area, shower, toilet area and massage table area. Tang was my therapist, and a lovely touch was a bowl below my eyes with 3 gerbera daisies to look at while face down. It was a nice touch, I thought, and kept my mind busy during the massage. It was a combination of pressure and long strokes using invigorating oils. Toward the end she used cups warmed in heat to pull at my skin and muscles and on my feet to sooth. I was left with some marks, but none too unsightly and no bruising. I felt wonderful afterward.
I wandered around the shops inside the hotel and got my bearings. I was there a full day ahead
of the tour and still cloudy headed, so pretty much stayed in the confines of this gorgeous place all day. I walked around reading the history of the hotel, took photos of wedding coples having their wedding photos taken in front of the hotel. (In Vietnam couples have photos taken ahead of the ceremony and give them as gifts at the reception.) I grabbed a sandwich from the French bakery to eat in my room for dinner, delightful. I ventured out for a walk around the block, under the watchful eye of hotel security, because the hotel makes up the whole block. The evening temperature was lovely and people were out in the park. Had I been with someone or more clear headed, I would have taken a cyclo to Old Town, but not tonight.
I thought noise would be a problem but it quieted down quickly after about 9:00pm here. There are few cars, except taxis, in Hanoi. Mostly motorbikes and cyclos, pedicabs with the seat in front. So once people in offices went home, it got quiet. I made it to 9:30pm, and slept until about 6:30am, which one does when traveling west to east.
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