Check-In: Hotel de l’Opera Hanoi, Vietnam

Hotel de l'Opera Hanoi, Vietnam1

Hanoi should be on every South East Asia traveller’s itinerary. Not only is it the populous capital of Vietnam, but it is also a metropolitan city like no other. For one, it is the hardest city to cross the street in – not because of traffic, but because of the number of whizzing motorcycles around, way outnumbering the number of cars. Some of them tend to borrow traffic laws and others pretend act as pedestrians.

Other than that, the city is bustling with amazing restaurants, many nightlife options and has a plethora of nearby essential destinations. Not only is it a great city, but it’s also a good way to start your Vietnamese experience.

But for the city, if you are wishing to stay in luxury and get fully pampered there are a few options. The one that suited us the most is Hotel de l’Opera Hanoi. It is the epitome of boutique in this busy capital. Being near all the high-end shopping areas, the hotel is a member of Accor’s exclusive MGallery Collection. With a staff of 150, almost everything is taken care of in the duration of your stay.

The hotel has a special ambiance – that of Vietnamese cool coupled with French decor – the modern and the traditional. The lobby is spacious with a full bar and trained mixologists – a rarity in Hanoi. It is perfect for pre-drinks before going out to events around the city, including the beautiful Opera House which is a couple of steps away and the namesake of the hotel.

The hotel is noted as the first boutique hotel in the heart of the capital. It boasts accents of architecture from many eras of the city’s rich 1,000 year old history. Featuring 107 rooms and suites with windows overlooking downtown Hanoi. The rooms are pretty spacious and are filled with all amenities one needs, including free WiFi.

The culinary options are varied. The downstairs bar is a buzzing social room called La Fée Verte. There you can have an array of traditional teas or imbibe some premium liquors, which include a drink of Absinthe that locals flock to the place for. The venue often has entertainment and scheduled happy hours throughout the week.

On the ground floor, there is a popular venue by the names of Café Lautrec frequented by hotel guests and locals. The place serves Mediterranean-style dishes and an extensive wine list. Another option is a restaurant called Satine located in the heart of the hotel’s 8-story atrium – an architectural nook that gives the hotel a unique feel. Moreover, the place serves some of the best Vietnamese cuisine from different regions of the country.

Another thing not to miss is Splash, a pool and fitness area overlooking the city. Although the gym is on one side, the pool turns into a social gathering, especially with the tropical pool parties the hotel is trying to promote nowadays – with specialty drinks, eclectic DJs and food stands. Sip while you watch the city.

Hotel de l’Opera Hanoi is unlike any other in the capital of Vietnam. It errs of the side of luxury, but it is so laid-back and central. For most of the important sight-seeing locations, you you can get there by walking. Otherwise, the hotel concierge has a list of arranged excursions that will make your Hanoi trip memorable. The staff were very friendly and the service was impeccable.

 

Travel Eats: Balut (Duck Embryo) from Vietnam and the Philippines!

Balut, a developed duck embryo boiled alive and eaten in its egg. Really common in Southeast Asia and often served with beer.

Fertilized eggs from ducks and chickens, also known as balut, are essentially half-developed embryos… and they aren’t pretty. Find out how balut tastes and why this extremely disgusting-looking food is a delicacy in the Philippines in this episode of Why Would You Eat That? Who knew Filipino cooking contained the answer to the age-old debate, chicken vs. the egg? However, why would you eat it is still up for debate.

 

Check-In: Crazy House Hotel, Dalat, Vietnam

The official name is Hang Nga Guesthouse and gallery, but all locals refer to it as the crazy house. And when you stand in front of its entrance it is easy to see why: this house is indeed strange. It does not comply with any convention about house building, has unexpected twists and turns, roofs and rooms. It looks like a fairy tale castle, it has enormous “animals” like a giraffe and a spider, no window is rectangular or round, and it can be visited like a museum. In the middle of Vietnam, up in the hills, someone has built a crazy house. – The Age Online … It’s the Crazy House, by architect Hang Nga. Hang Viet Nga is the architect’s full name and she … folklore and free-form. Crazy House is also her home, still under.

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