One of the most famous hotels in the world, The Metropole in Vietnam’s capital has earned its legendary status by constantly surprising its clientele. And with the renovation of its famous Angelina bar, this latest chapter is no exception. Lysanne Currie went to the launch. . .
Everyone from Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt to François Mitterrand, Barack Obama, Mick Jagger and Jane Fonda has stayed at The Metropole, amid its Indochine elegance and five-star French colonial splendour. It’s where Graham Greene wrote The Quiet American, where Charlie Chaplin spent a honeymoon (there are suites named after both the writer and actor), and where Indo-Chinese locals could catch motion pictures for the first time, at 15 Ngo Quyen Street.
First opening its doors in 1901, the luxurious five-star Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, originally designed by André Ducamp and Gustave-Émile Dumoutier, is where royalty, presidents, film stars and journalists will have mingled around the terrace bar, or courtyard and pool. It’s also where one of Hanoi’s two remaining bunkers can still be visited (Joan Baez wrote Where Are You Now My Son while sheltering here) and where brides and grooms-to-be pose for their pre wedding photos and where tech titans do international deals over a pho breakfast. Briefly changing its name to Thong Nhat Hotel (which means ‘Reunification’) when Vietnam was declared independent, it’s a true witness to history. And now Vietnam’s most famous hotel, celebrates another chapter in history. But it’s not a person this time – it’s a drink.
WATER OF LIFE
The hotel’s equally celebrated Angelina bar, a darkly lit, luxury destination in its own right, unveiled its completely refurbished restaurant and wine bar back in September, and along with newly appointed Michelin-starred head chef Aurélien Houguet, who cut his teeth at establishments such as the five-star Ashford Castle in Ireland, the Angelina is also offering a designated whisky lounge – the first, surprisingly, in this whisky-loving country, with over 200 whiskies in stock.
The Scottish influence extends to lounge’s wallpaper, which has been designed by Scottish firm Timorous Beasties, a design studio founded in Glasgow in 1990. While the top-to-bottom refurbishment comes care of award-winning Scottish designer Karen Hay, founder of the Hong Kong-based interior design studio In-dulge. “The superior level of attention to detail ensures your guests will remember their positive experience with you, long after they have left,” she says, and, waiting behind a charcoal curtain, the lounge’s velvet wingback chairs and roaring fireplace certainly ensure it’s a cockle-warming slice of that old Celtic spirit in South-east Asia.
Says the hotel’s general manager, Mr. William J Haandrikman, “The refurbishment of the Angelina bar, lounge and restaurant has brought it up to date with a fresh, modern design that’s still in keeping with the luxurious and historic grandeur of the rest of the hotel”. The Angelina itself, decked out with a gold, mustard, maroon and dusty blue colour scheme, is located over two storeys, with an eight-meter-high floor-to-ceiling bar. On the second floor dining area, guests can choose between the likes of lobster rolls with caviar, Arctic snow fish, roast Welsh lamb pie, and Wagyu beef burgers topped with cheddar cheese and black truffle, courtesy of Mr Houguet’s fabulous menu serving up fresh interpretations on classic European and New World dishes. All washed down of course with selections from an exceptional wine list and hand-crafted cocktails. Sláinte!
Lysanne Currie flew to Hanoi courtesy of Vietnam Airlines www.vietnamairlines.com which operates the UK's only nonstop scheduled services to Vietnam, with daily flights from Heathrow T4 to either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. Flights are operated by the latest Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with Economy, Premium Economy and Business Class cabins, and SkyTrax 4-star rated Vietnamese service. Return fares start from £464 per person in Economy; £938 in Premium Economy; and £1,818 in Business Class.