Hanoi Graceful Hotel Review
I found this hotel through my credit card points reward program. I emailed the hotel about the cheaper rate the credit card was offering, as it was much less than the typical internet booking sites and made a deal to pay when I arrived at the lower rate. This was the beginning of my email interactions with Mr. Lee. Hanoi was my first stop in Vietnam and I had no idea what to expect of it, but because of Mr. Lee, the hotel manager at Hanoi Graceful Hotel, I was put at ease my first five days in the north of Vietnam. My first week in Vietnam was pretty much the only thing I had super scheduled out for my entire summer vacation because he had set up my nights in Hanoi, my overnight cruise in Halong Bay and an overnight trekking adventure in Sapa. He was very informative and quick to get back to me with information and very honest from the moment I started contact via email.
Upon arrival, my room was not available due to air-conditioning problems, so they put me up at a neighboring hotel. I was a little uncertain at first because it was so late at night when I arrived and stepped into a very hot, enclosed room. It turned out to be fine, but coming in late at night and walking a block to another hotel was a slight pain after an evening of travelling. The room had wifi, a bathtub, and a computer, so I was able to kick back and take a bath, while checking on future travel plans which was nice. The breakfast was downstairs at a restaurant and it was so-so, the air conditioner condensation was leaking and so there were puddles all over the floor which made for a not so wonderful ambience. The vibe of the hotel Icon 36 wasn’t there for me, but it was a simple, clean, modest accommodation that met my basic needs and plus I was only there for 10 hours.
The next morning, Mr. Lee, the hotel manager came to Icon 36 and we walked down to Hanoi Graceful. He is a very kind and personable man and later hooked me up with one of the executive rooms for my inconvenience. I definitely appreciated that. He set me up with my room early, so I was able to get settled before exploring the city. My room had a balcony looking out onto the city street. The streets are busy during the day, but the hotel street was fairly quiet in the evening even though it is in the hustle and bustle of the Old Quarter of Hanoi. It is close distance to walk to night markets, lake, tons of restaurants, and sights. The staff set me up with a plan to walk around the area and how to cross the streets, and all of the precautions for my first day out in Hanoi. (I wrote a post about my day out previously.)
When I arrived back to the hotel in the evening, I enjoyed a beautiful sunset between the buildings from my balcony. This was a nice surprise. The next morning I was leaving the hotel for a two day, one night boat cruise at Halong Bay, so I packed my backpack and got my carry-on ready to store at the hotel until I returned. When I woke up early to leave the hotel, I realized the staff forgot to mention there was a switch to turn the hot water on outside the door but I was in somewhat of a rush in the morning, so I didn’t worry about the cold water. I was excited for a 3-in-1 coffee and then realized my kettle didn’t work. Shortly after they replaced the kettle. Even though I had a few bumps, it didn’t ruin my day or stay. The staff was very attentive, smiling and always taking care of any problems. The breakfast was good and offered American and Vietnamese cuisine.
When I returned from my Halong Bay Cruise, I was greeted by the friendly, attentive staff and shown to my new room where my suitcase and air conditioning was waiting on the top floor. I stayed in the executive VIP suite as an upgrade for my inconvenience the first night. I didn’t spend much time in the room, but it was clean and spacious. I had a hot shower, wifi, and coffee in the room, so I was happy.
The next morning I left for an overnight trip to Sapa, so just like the previous adventure, I packed a small backpack and left the suitcase at the hotel, the staff had a to-go breakfast waiting for me before I departed in the morning for the long adventure. The breakfast was two pieces of bread, butter, ham, a hard-boiled egg and a banana. On my six hour bus trip, this was very helpful to have and another nice touch from the hotel.
When I returned from Sapa, I was also given the upgraded balcony room from the first night. I was greeted by the kind night staff, as I am arrived around 10pm. My room smelled of smoke, my luggage was not in a room like before, the bottled water was missing as well as the coffee. The night manager called to check on the status of my room, however I did not notice anything except the cigarettes at that time. A little later, I realized I didn’t have my luggage, and I called for it and it came up right away. After midnight I realize there was no water or coffee. Though the attention to detail was not good with the hotel housekeeping staff, the management fixed everything quickly every time as soon as it was brought to their attention. This was my last night staying at the hotel as I was moving on to Hoi An the next evening. The next day they let me check out late which was nice since it was so hot outside, when I returned from sightseeing I was able to clean up and shower before flying out.
The cost I was not aware of was the $20 each way airport pick up, which if I read carefully somewhere it probably said there was a cost. It was nice and easy to have a driver waiting, however I was unaware of the cost. I probably would have paid it anyway since it was five dollars more than a cab, but I just thought it was included in the room. When it came to paying for my bill, I just let them know that I was unaware before requesting and they gave me a free transfer back to the airport.
Although there were minor bumps along the way at this hotel, they were always fixed and were minor. The price I was able to secure for the hotel ($24 USD/night) was still well worth it. The man that makes the hotel a place to come back to though is Mr. Lee. He helped me in so many ways to figure out where I was going, how I could buy things I needed, where to go, how much time to spend at each place, etc. Without Lee, the hotel would not be the same, it feels like family with him rather than a hotel.