10,197 km so far.
We have been thoroughly enjoying our few days in Ha Noi, though we haven’t done many of the touristy things everyone recommends: no water puppet theatre, no visits to the temples or museums, no ghastly tour of the Hanoi Hilton.
Instead we have been enjoying experiencing a more local Hanoi. Yoga, walking around the various lakes, visiting cafes, wandering the 36 streets.
The Opera House is beautiful, but with the opera season yet to begin, I just walked past it, admiring it in all its Frenchness. We haven’t visited any of the tourist temples, but have popped our heads into some of the countless small local temples that dot the city.
Hedonistic In Hanoi
We have also been getting our money’s worth at our luxurious hotel, the Elegance Emerald.
It is a newly refurbished boutique hotel just on the edge of the Old Quarter. The bed is more comfortable than any we have had in months, the room is so well sealed it blocks out all the street sounds, it has a heater to warm us on these chilly nights, and we can order up a cup of sweet ginger tea whenever we want.
We are sharing the hotel with a mix of nationalities. There are English, Scottish, Spanish, and French guests, plus a couple of Chinese men here for business, and a Québécois couple who were at breakfast this morning. For the Europeans, this hotel, at $40 to $60 per night, depending on the room and number of days you stay, must seem like an absolute steal.
I have spent many nights in cities such as Sacramento, Phoenix, and Deming, NM at the Motel 6 or similar, where rooms cost as much as they do here. Here is so much better.
So, even though $45 per night is a fortune to many Vietnamese people, and it’s also pretty steep for a couple of budget-conscious cycle tourists, we have no regrets about splashing out.
Great Service Is Great Business
Special mention must go to the staff, who have been incredible. They have clearly been well trained, are well managed, and seem to truly enjoy helping their guests.
- Here are a few ways their service has impressed us:
- One day we accidentally left our Do Not Disturb sign on the door all day. When we got back to the room in the late afternoon, housekeeping called to let us know why they hadn’t tidied our room, and to see if we would like them to come take care of it.
- As well as the limitless ginger tea, they also provide coffee and bottled water at no extra expense. Just pick up the phone and ask.
- When we were sorting out our visas, they made a call to their travel service without even asking, and provided us with useful information, even offering to do all the work for us, all without pressuring us to use their service.
- The hotel provides, as I have mentioned, unlimited breakfast. You can order from the a la carte menu and eat from the full buffet, drink freshly squeezed juices and bottomless coffee and tea. The food is freshly made, western with some Vietnamese dishes thrown in, and did I mention unlimited? The staff also encourage you to eat as much as you can, and not to feel shy about asking for more.
- This morning we heard a staff member phone a guest who hadn’t come down for breakfast yet to see if they would be eating, or if they would like their breakfast brought up to their room!
- Most importantly, they went out of their way to accommodate our bikes, moving tables and chairs around for them in their staff canteen, where space was already at a premium.
Friendly staff, immaculate lobby and rooms, delicious breakfasts, luxurious beds; you probably shouldn’t consider staying anywhere else in Hanoi, and you should probably book ahead. ♥