Hanoi Magnifique

Hanoi is an Asian metropolis at its most romantic. With strong Chinese and French colonial influences and plenty of Vietnamese pride, this 1000-year old city is a glorious blend of east and west, old and new. Hanoi would have probably wooed us on any given day with its pagodas, palaces, lakes, and markets but three nights at the Sofitel Plaza Hanoi made us totally smitten.

2 SofitelPlazaHanoiRoom
Set a couple kilometers from the Old Quarter and along the peaceful West Lake, the Sofitel Plaza Hanoi is in the perfect location with the views to prove it. Our luxurious three-room suite had massive windows and a lovely leather armchair to take in the views.

After we settled into our gorgeous room, we went down to the Sofitel’s Ming Restaurant for lunch. Offering over 80 courses of dim sum, it is said to be the premier spot for Chinese cuisine in Hanoi. The food was so delicious that we had to come back to this chic space for dinner. The imperial duck was out of this world!

4Chua Tran Quac pagoda
To start seeing the city’s finest landmarks, we only had to walk out our door. On a little island on Westlake, sits the oldest pagoda in a Hanoi. Chua Tran Quac pagoda is 1,400 years old and a beautiful Buddhist temple.

The 11th-century Temple of Literature and site of the country’s first national university is a must-see stop in Hanoi. It’s well-preserved architecture, gardens, and shrines to Confucius were all lovely, as were the New Year’s calligraphy stalls outside its gate. Old men practicing the art of blending Han Chinese with Vietnamese ideographic characters sell their scrolls for good luck in the New Year and offer unparalleled people watching.

Staying in a Sofitel Plaza Hanoi club room grants access into the Club Sofitel’s executive lounge with complimentary coffee, tea and snacks all day and cocktails and canapes by night. After a day of sightseeing it was such a treat to come back to this incredible spread….champagne bar, seafood, sushi, charcuterie, cheese, pastries, and more. What a perk!

We enjoyed enough gourmet nibbles at the Executive Lounge that we skipped dinner and went straight to the night cap at the Summit Lounge. The hotel’s rooftop bar is the renowned for having the best views of Hanoi with twinkling lights reflecting off the Red River, West Lake, and Truc Bach lake. Making it even more memorable, the hotel surprised us with a honeymoon cocktail-making lesson! The bartender taught us how to spin up lemongrass martinis and garnish them to perfection.

8Puppet Show at the Museum of Ethnology
The next morning our plan was to start on the outskirts of town and work our way to the center. Five miles away was the fabulous Museum of Ethnology, celebrating Vietnam’s diverse cultures and traditions. This was actually one of the coolest museum’s of our HoneyTrek. It was partially built as a village displaying the various types of architecture throughout Vietnam and had cultural displays from how to make conical hats to shamanic rituals to water puppetry.

9Old Quarter Hanoi Vietnam
We took a cab to the Old Quarter then set out on foot for a self-guided walking tour. In the heart of the quarter, it’s good to know that the streets are organized by the good: toys, spices, mirrors, shoes, etc. and as soon as the item changes so does the street name. We had a blast popping into traditional shops, trying local delicacies (like the delicious Bun Cha soup!) and admiring the patina of the French Colonial architecture.

10Hoan Kiem Lake with Thap Rua
Hoan Kiem Lake is at the heart of the Old Quarter and by night its twinkling island beckons couples to its shores. The name translates to the Lake of the Restored Sword and refers to the end of Chinese rule in the 15th-century and the legend of a turtle that emerged to retire the emperor’s weapon. The building in the distance is Thap Rua, the Tortoise Tower where the lake’s turtles are still honored.

We returned to the hotel and found our bed turned down with a heart of roses! This is just one of the many ways the service and attention to detail blew us away at the Sofitel Plaza Hanoi. We adored our stay here and hope you get the chance to experience it too!

Much love from Hanoi,
Anne & Mike

Note: The Sofitel invited us to be their guests; however all opinions are our own.

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