Whew – what a blast. We’ve just left Hanoi’s ‘horn section’ behind for the relative peace of Hue (pronounced Hway) just 660kms to the south. It’s important to make yourself a small target when crossing Hanoi’s streets as honking, beeping buses, taxis and motorbikes swirl relentlessly around you. You feel like a walking bull’s eye trying to dodge a bullet! Asian cities are always an exciting blend of exhilaration and exhaustion and Hanoi proves to be no exception making escaping to the calm of the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel and Hotel de l’Opera sanity-saving havens.
Here in Hue, things have taken on a decidedly more relaxed hue, helped along by a tropical landscape of palm trees and rice fields, and there’s a sultry stillness in the air as we cross the delicately named Perfume River en route to La Residence Hotel and Spa. The French moniker isn’t affectation but a reflection of French colonial times as La Residence quickly transports you back to the 1930s with its glamorous Art Deco interiors and authentic history. At its core is the residence of the former French colonial governor to which the sympathetically designed hotel now offers a total of 93 superior rooms, 30 with river vistas and carefully curated interiors.
Room to Move
On the third floor, our Colonial Junior Suite is all retro-glamour with a broad terrace overlooking manicured grounds. Furnished with beautifully inlaid mahogany pieces, it gives a glimpse of how the other one percent-ers must have lived back in the day! Teas that claim to reduce hypertension, boost relaxation or restore digestive systems are by a tray set with blue and white Chinese porcelain tea cups.
Sunlight spreads across polished floorboards through floor-to-ceiling glass and the gleaming turquoise salt-water pool looks enticing. But with the Forbidden Purple City, a UNESCO-listed masterpiece, and the Hue Imperial City on our must-visit list along with a local food tour-de-force, it’ll be dusk before we get to swim in it.
Want to know the secret of a blissful night’s sleep? Arrange a spa before bedtime! At Le Spa, two young therapists wave a range of oils under our noses from spicy ylang ylang and lively lemongrass to soothing lavender. Robert wants to be re-energised (but in a relaxed way) and opts for a blend of citrus and lavender. For the next hour, the Aroma Body Touch treatment firmly but gently eliminates Hanoi’s street stress from top to toe. The combination of massage and therapeutic qualities of the essential oils soothes, revitalises and lifts the spirits. Pressing the flesh with strong hands, firm thumbs find undiscovered pressure points. Working the shoulders and hello! there’s that gym injury awake and taking notice. Floating into bed, never have pillows been softer, a bed more comfortable or sleep felt more heavenly…..
Book without delay at firstname.lastname@example.org
2onthewing is travelling throughout Vietnam in association with
Asia Unbound. www.asiaunbound.com
La Residence is a member of Accor’s M Gallery hotels – www.mgallery.com
Hotel Metropole – www.sofitel-legend.com
Hotel de l’Opera – www.hoteldelopera.com