Removed from the bustle of the city’s Old Quarter, the InterContinental Hanoi Westlake is built right over the tranquil Tay Ho, or West Lake, a location that delivers picturesque views as well as plenty of local color (fishermen trawl the waters right beneath your windows). Each of the 198 rooms boasts a large private balcony, which lends the property a resort feel. Not all the rooms have a lake view, so for the best vistas, make sure to book into one of the rooms in the three pavilions that are perched further out over the water.
Right next door to the Sheraton Hotel, the InterContinental is just a five-minute walk to the 800-year-old Golden Lotus Pagoda (now under restoration) and a 10- to 15-minute taxi ride to the Old Quarter. Xuan Dieu Road, which winds around the lake, doesn’t provide a particularly pleasant setting for a stroll because of incessant motorbike traffic. But it does offer several small, atmospheric restaurants such as the rustic Vine and Thai Vine, which serve international and Thai food, respectively.
Works by up-and-coming local artists like Nguyen Minh Thanh and Le Quoc Viet hang in the lobby, setting the hotel’s contemporary Vietnamese tone. However, interior designer KCA Design, whose previous clients include the Burj Al Arab in Dubai and the InterContinental London Park Lane, also found inspiration in the rich cultures of Vietnams ethnic minorities, as evidenced by the decorative textiles hanging on walls.
The friendly, competent front desk staff showed initiative such as tracking down an errant taxi driver. But housekeeping staff proved to be overzealous and impatient, with a penchant for vacuuming the corridors as late as 11 P.M. and ringing the doorbell a second time if you do not respond promptly.
The Lotus Suite
Tasteful and comfortable, the suite features high ceilings, polished wood floors with wool, cut-pile rugs from Thailand and sliding louvered window shutters. Soothing earth tones, dark chocolate and burnt orange, dominate the color scheme. Wall decorations include a black-and-white image of the Vietnamese countryside by Hoang Lingh, a well-known local photographer, and a textile hanging inspired by traditional ceremonial ethnic costume. The 1.6-meter-high headboard, upholstered in leather, offers comfortable support for viewing the 42-inch flat-screen television. The room is also equipped with high-speed Internet access, a DVD player, a Bose entertainment system and an iPod dock.
Generously sized and brightly lit, the bathroom features a soaking tub and a separate rain shower (a minor complaint: the shower stalls glass door opens awkwardly outward). His-and-hers sinks are nestled in yellow marble, though a more indigenous touch can be found in the bamboo ladder that serves as a towel rack. Along with the usual suspects, toiletries included a mini talcum powder box, a tiny stick of deodorant stick, a small hairbrush and Elemis bath products. Ultra-soft bathrobes from Singapore-based bedding company Ploh heighten the luxe factor.
Golf buggies and trishaws can shuttle guests between the pavilions and the main building. Turndown service includes the weather forecast and a small card bearing the legend of West Lake origins to send you into dreamland. Too bad it’s always the same story. For an early morning breakfast, dig into the spread at the Café du Lac, where you can gaze out of the floor-to-ceiling windows to catch a glimpse of daily life on the lake. At the end of the day, nothing beats the Sunset Bar, just try and secure one of the few daybeds by the water to best enjoy the setting sun. As befits its name, Milan-Saigon offers a selection of Italian.
1A Nghi Tam, Tay Ho
Telephone: +84 4 270 8888