Elite Hotel is part of the Essence Hanoi Hotel chain. It’s owned by one of Mike’s acquaintant whom he met once in Singapore through his aunt, so he was adamant that we stayed with them. Personally, I was going to go with another hotel who had responded helpfully and promptly with suggestions for my itinerary but I decided follow his order since he was paying.
Elite Hotel is a boutique hotel located in Hanoi Old Quarters. We were picked up by the hotel at the airport and dropped off at the entrance of a back lane in the evening. The manager rushed out with a porter and helped with our luggage. We were to walk a short distance at the back lane to the hotel.Upon entering, we were served cold towels and ice juice. What great hospitality. Check in was swift, with the three managers fluent in English. In fact, I was overwhelmed by the personal and warm touch of these managers that it forever changed my mind about staying in boutique hotels.
We had booked a family room and our three hard case luggage were taken up the narrow staircase up one level by the bell boy cum chef cum cleaner cum helper. I think the other seven rooms higher level up were twin rooms.
We were delighted by our room. The effort of welcoming guests was apparent.
Rose petals decorated the two queen size beds, and more rose petals were found in the bathroom sink. It felt just right for a honeymoon couple with the romantic gesture.
Coffee and tea making facility was provided, but a nice addition were the bottles of Vietnamese snacks. The only other hotel I encountered these complementary extras was at Banyan Tree Shangri-la, a 6-star resort.
Facilities in the room included a fridge, flat screen TV and a laptop. There was also a plate of local fruits awaiting us, the mango which was delicious.
The bed was nice and firm and request for extra pillows was delivered promptly. The only inconvenience was that there was not enough table top space in the bathroom for my toiletry bag, and damp towels which we were told to re-use had insufficient hanging room for three persons.
Breakfast was included and in the morning, the lobby was transformed into a dining room. There was even a menu offering Vietnamese and western breakfast. While we were there, we tried the pho and ox-tail stew with banquette, and I spied the western guests tucking in muesli, pancakes or sandwiches.
There was one morning that we were late for breakfast and all the three tables were occupied. We were told to wait 30 minutes and I had wondered what if we can’t wait, since most of the tourists may have booked tours which usually start at the same time? After I returned, I was sent an email by the hotel for feedback and I had suggested that they put up a while board for guests to fill in their desired breakfast time slots the night before.
The hotel is conveniently located in the heart of Old Hanoi, the buzz of tourist activities with bars, restaurants, souvenir shops and weekend night market within short walking distance. Thus it was very convenient to locate cheap food and entertainments at night. In the morning, the stall next door sells pho to the locals which I was eyeing longingly.
Because Hanoi was our base to the nearby regions like Halong Bay and Sapa, we were invited to leave our bulky luggage with the hotel and to take only necessary items for our short trips away. That really made our excursions easier as our rooms in the cruise at Halong Bay and night train to Sapa were small and cramp and would not have accommodated three hard cases.
For our excursion to Sapa via the night train, we checked out the room in the morning, spent the day having city tour and returned to the hotel in the night for a shower at the bathroom in the lobby before the hotel sent us to the train station and did the check-in for us. Upon our return from Sapa in the early morning, we had a connecting flight to Da Nang. The hotel was there waiting at the station for us and brought us back to the hotel for shower and breakfast before sending us to the airport, all without extra charge. I was never served so personally by a hotel before and wondered if this service is accorded to all guests or just us because we know the owner. Yet I could feel the warm and sincerity of the staff that nevertheless, I was really touched.
The hotel stay in Elite Hotel is one reason why I love Vietnam.