sojourneys


The Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi
September 15, 2014, 1:25 pm
Filed under: holiday, hotels, reviews, vacation | Tags: , , ,

The Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi is quite a hike by foot to favored tourist spots such as The Old Quarter or Hoàn_Kiếm_Lake, but what it lacks in propinquity it makes up for in understated elegance, cleanliness, and prompt service.

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Guestrooms are spacious and appointed with all the amenities one would expect in a business class hotel such as work desk, high speed wifi, reading lights, a wide array of cable channels, and more. Housekeeping does a thorough job and is unobtrusive. The bathrooms are gorgeously sized and a pleasure to use.

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The hotel does have Mangosteen,an all-day dinning restaurant, which serves up a good meal at reasonable prices. The fitness center is moderately equipped but could benefit with more weight resistance machines. There is a sauna in the changing room. Swimmers, be aware that there is no pool at the property.

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If you’re a tourist and do not mind trekking to attractions on foot–it’s after all a great way to experience a new city; just be aware traffic signs are not always obeyed–the Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi presents a viable value proposition.

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The Emeraude, Halong Bay, Vietnam
September 14, 2014, 2:42 pm
Filed under: holiday, reviews, vacation | Tags: , , ,

The burgeoning tourist arrivals at the world renown Halong Bay has seen the proliferation of new cruise vessels to bear DSLR-totting visitors eager to witness firsthand the magnificence of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Emeraude is not one of them. The quaint, 37-cabin ship was named after a cruising vessel that plied the bay between 1906 and 1937, and despite its age of 11 years (it was made in 2003), The Emeraude bears the pride of its namesake well.

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The rooms are reasonably spacious and comfortably air conditioned. Each room comes with an en suite bathroom that dispenses hot water at strong pressure. The decks are spacious and open, with plenty of seating so there is never a need to jostle. But the best part of the experience is the warm, ever-smiling service and excellent Vietnamese cuisine that is served buffet style at every meal. The salads are light and refreshing, the Vietnamese rolls are succulent and moist, the meats are sweet and tender, and the desserts are…well, they are the icing on the cake.

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If you are visiting Halong Bay, I would thoroughly recommend The Emeraude as the choice vessel to take in the wondrous sights.

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Hotel Nikko Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
April 1, 2012, 3:40 pm
Filed under: holiday, hotels, vacation | Tags: , , , , , ,

The Hotel Nikko Saigon may be at the fringe of District 1 and away from the main tourist attractions, but don’t dismiss it because of that.  The newly minted property (opened in Dec 2011) runs a regular shuttle service to the tourist hotspots such as the Independence Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office, the Opera House, and more.

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More than that, perhaps because the hotel is new, the staff are earnest, smiling, friendly, and generally eager to make you feel at home.  The service is generally impeccable and thoughtful.  The number one tip is to pay for a room on the Club Floor–at a marginal premium–that entitles guests use of the Executive Club that serves breakfast, afternoon tea, evening Happy Hour, and a 3pm check-out.

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The decor is understated and classy with a balanced use of marble, glass, steel, and wood.  The overall color scheme is muted shades of pastel and grey.  The net effect is a vibe that feels contemporary, upmarket, comfortable, without bordering on pretentiousness.

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The guestroom is well-appointed, with every amenity one would ask of, and twice-daily service (morning housekeeping and evening turn-down).  The only possible improvement that the hotel might do well to consider is to have multi-standard power sockets that will charge a variety of plugs from their guests who must come from diverse parts of the world.

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The gym–more like a fitness room–is a tad small for a five-star property, but is serviceable.  The ambience at the pool is relaxing, and chilled water is delivered to guests at their deck chair.  Overall, the Nikko Hotel Saigon presents value-for-money, and its lack of propinquity to major tourist attractions is more than made up by its stellar standards of service.