Looking for somewhere to stay that has been a prominent fixture in the Old Quarter of Hanoi for over 100 years? A place that has welcomed esteemed guests from around the world including playwrights, actors, film stars, musicians, heads of state and ambassadors? Look no further than Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, recognised as one of the finest hotels in South East Asia and often referred to as one of ‘The Grand Dames’ of hotels. This place has some serious history and a level of service and style to match.
Discerning guests have the choice of 364 rooms and suites across 2 wings, the historic Metropole Wing and the contemporary and newly renovated Opera Wing which harmoniously sit side by side combining rich heritage and state of the art technology throughout the property. First opening in 1901, the hotel was constructed in a classical and colonial style that has survived many changes over the years but still oozes that incomparable French style.
Our room had all the classic style of the rest of the hotel but with all the modern day comforts which make this property a truly 5 star experience. Light, airy and spacious, extremely peaceful with a view over the pool and gardens, it was a wonderful retreat and place to relax.
The pool and Bamboo Bar are located in the centre of the hotel, in an outdoor space which, like other areas of the hotel, remind you of a colonial time which has passed by. It’s the perfect place to escape the heat and bustle of the city outside but also has its own unique and interesting history.
In 2011, when extending the Bamboo Bar, workmen discovered an underground bunker that was used by guests to escape the sometimes daily carpet bombing that obliterated much of Hanoi during the war. It was from this bunker that legendary folk singer and songwriter Joan Baez took cover during an air raid and penned her famous anti-war song ‘Where are you now my son?’.
This underground shelter is now an integral part of the complimentary historical tour of the hotel that is available to guests daily; an experience that is as interesting as it is humbling.
We were told to expect service that was like “the old fashioned service you get when you’re invited to the house of a fashionable and wealthy old lady”. This charming description was however only partly true as we also found the staff to be extremely vegan friendly too, offering suggestions for places to eat nearby and helping us with any questions that we asked about the food on offer.
The Vegan Food:
There was plenty of opportunity for us to experience the legendary service of the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi during our stay with vegan friendly options availabe for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
A dinner to remember at ‘Le Beaulieu’.
Chef de Cuisine Fabrizio Aceti was the creative and talented chef behind a healthy and flavourful vegan fine dining experience at Le Beaulieu. We enjoyed a 4 course set menu that was adapted from the existing vegetarian menu with just a few changes to ensure the meal was 100% plant based.
We started with a dish of heirloom baby tomatoes, gazpacho sauce, basil sorbet and tofu; a vibrant, healthy and delightful looking bowl of goodness. A generous twist of Phu Quoc pepper was added upon serving which contrasted well with the sharp and savoury taste of the tomatoes. The tofu was light and creamy and the sorbet delivered sweetness as did the tomato gazpacho that was the final element to this wonderful dish.
Next up was a Dalat artichoke stuffed with vegetables, fresh herbs and a truffle dressing. The aromas were the first thing we noticed with the Vietnamese herbs and truffle permeating the air in a heavenly way. Steaming hot vegetables including courgette, beetroot, carrot, broccoli and squash were seasoned perfectly, and with the earthy truffle and fragrant herbs, tasted divine. We dug deeper to find a divine layer of creamy artichoke and then pulled all the leaves away for the final artichoke laden delight. This was a wonderfully delicious and tactile dish packed with the freshest vegetables from Dalat, ‘the garden of Vietnam’.
A pretty plate of seasonal mushrooms fricassee, pomme paillasson, polenta and parsley jus topped with fried garlic arrived next. The contrast of flavours and textures worked very well together with the meaty oyster mushroom, softness of the polenta and smoothness of the mild, fresh parsley jus combining perfectly with the crunchy potato and crispy garlic. Finished with delicate, nutty and light ‘crisps’ that were bright green in colour, this dish was very moreish and something we would happily eat again and again.
For dessert we were served marinated red fruit with mint, orange gel, cacoa nibs, a crunchy biscuity mille feuille, berries sauce and mango sorbet which was again finished at the table with twist of Phu Quoc pepper. Often, vegan dessert can be disappointing and we end up ‘enjoying’ an uninspiring fruit salad which although healthy and often tasty is in our opinion not a ‘real’ dessert. We can safely say that our final course at Le Beaulieu was far from disappointing in fact this dessert was both memorable and delicious.
Who doesn’t love an explosion of sweet and sharp, spicy and sour paired perfectly with crunchy, nutty and chocolatey flavours sat alongside rich fruitiness to create a cacophony of taste and texture sensations?
The whole experience at Le Beaulieu was friendly and helpful whilst being efficient and professional but certainly not over bearing which for us is the ideal way to enjoy our meal, the staff were knowledgeable about the ingredients and each dish was personally finished by Chef with a twist of pepper or a drizzle of olive oil; we loved it.
A vegan breakfast feast at ‘Spices Garden’.
Hotel guests can enjoy breakfast at either of the hotel’s restaurants Le Beaulieu or Spices Garden, with a selection of buffet items alongside an a la carte menu available at each. The ambience is relaxed with tradiitonal piano and Vietnamese music playing softly in the background; it all makes for a gentle way to start the day.
We took breakfast at Spices Garden and were treated to an excellent vegan breakfast. There was a selection of teas, freshly made coffee, and a basket of fresh vegan bread (and even vegan ‘butter’) with homemade jams. The coffee was strong and freshly ground by world renowned brand Illy. Coffee in Vietnam isn’t always vegan as we wrote about in our post Is vietnamese coffee vegan so it’s always good to check what’s being served.
To compliment the ‘Energizer’ shots offered upon entry to Spices Garden you could choose from a wide choice of freshly made juices including orange, passion fruit and pineapple and a delicious green ‘Detox’ concoction containing spinach, banana, orange and peach. There were also cereals (with vegan soya milk) and an extensive selection of fresh and dried fruits, nuts and a sweet, zingy strawberry sauce which made our usual breakfast fruit plate just that little bit more interesting, healthy and delicious.
Staff explained which of the hot items were suitable for vegans and this included a plain rice congee which we added to with a squeeze of fresh lime, a dash of soy sauce, fresh chilli and coriander, fried tofu cubes and nori seaweed for a light and nutritious vegan option.
They were also happy to adapt dishes from the a la carte menu and prepared a stir fried rice with tofu and a bowl of rice noodles, tofu and vegetables for us to sample. There was a medley of tasty vegetables in each and both dishes were a welcome addition to the buffet items on offer.
It is safe to say that vegan guests will not go hungry at the Sofitel Legend Hanoi Metropole Hotel, with plenty to choose from and a staff team that are eager to be of assistance.
The Vegan Essentials:
The bathroom amenities were from ‘Les Notes de Lanvin’ and we have been unable to find out if they are suitable for vegans meaning we used our own.
Our delightfully comfortable bed included feather pillows but as with any property of this class there was of course a pillow menu. It included vegan friendly options such as synthetic, cotton and ‘Skin of Green Bean’ which is made from 100% bean husks and certainly one of the most vegan sounding pillows we’ve ever heard of!
If time allows head to ‘Le Spa du Metropole’ for a relaxing and indulgent treatment, the products are supplied by a number of producers including Sothy’s who don’t test on animals but we were not able to ascertain whether the products contained any animal derived ingredients. There were numberous vegan friendly massages availabe too.
The Vegan Food Quest Verdict:
The Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi is a true legend in every sense and when you check in here it is impossible not be be taken back in time through the historic past of this fine hotel where you can expect classic service and style during your stay.
Make a reservation at Le Beaulieu to enjoy a vegan fine dining meal using local and seasonal ingredients to create a meal that looked good, tasted great and was served by staff whose professionalism completed the perfect culinary experience.
We were guests of Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi but please rest assured that their generosity in hosting us didn’t influence our views.
Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
15 Ngo Quyen Street,
Hoan Kiem District,
Telephone: +84 24 3826 6919
Cost From: £180 / $235 per night (Sept 2017)