This was our 2nd trip to Hanoi in the past couple years. We did not have as much time to spend in the city or as ambitious a game plan as we had on our first visit. To be honest, the two main items on our agenda was the opportunity to visit the artist Pham Luc and a return visit to Sapa.
The 1-hour flight from Luang Prabang arrived a few minutes early and despite the typical airport confusion we have grown to expect, clearing immigration and customs didn’t take too long.
We made a quick stop at an ATM machine in the terminal and found the driver from Hanoi Charming 2 Hotel. Noi Bai International Airport is the largest and most modern in Vietnam but it’s about 30 miles from to the Old Quarter and traffic tends to be a bit slow.
We enjoy staying in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. There is always something to do just outside the hotel front door. We like being able to walk to Hoan Kiem Lake and all the restaurants and shops.
It’s too easy to call the Hanoi Charming 2 Hotel “charming”. But I have to admit that we were completely charmed by the entire staff there. Can’t say enough about how pleasant and helpful Mary, Sophie, Lana, Johnny (or was it Ernie) and everyone else at the front and transportation desks were and how much they enhanced our experience in Hanoi.
A couple examples:
• When we asked about where in the Old Quarter we should go to shop for small wooden stands, we received a map with highlights to a street a few blocks away. Upon arriving at the street, we found half the stores on the block had exactly what we were looking for.
• When we arrived at the hotel door around 5:30 am after the overnight train from Lao Cai, a sleeping Ernie not only got out of bed to unlock the door for us but volunteered to check to see if they might have a free room that we could check into immediately. He then woke up a bellboy to take the bags we had in storage with them up to the room. The couple extra hours of sleep we got that morning really made a difference.
In addition to the location we wanted and the great service, our room was very clean and modern, the combination buffet/made to order breakfast was very good, the computer connection was, for Vietnam, reasonably fast and available most hours of the day. No question that on our next visit to Hanoi that we plan on staying there again.