CHECK IT OUT APRI­COT HO­TEL, HANOI

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence -

Si­t­u­ated mere steps from the old quar­ter of the Viet­namese cap­i­tal and with views over Hoan Kiem Lake, the newly opened Apri­cot Ho­tel pays trib­ute to the na­tion’s vi­brant art scene by dis­play­ing more than 600 art­works. The cream, neo­clas­si­cal in­te­ri­ors of the 123 gue­strooms and public ar­eas serve as a back­drop for works by master pain­ters Nguyen Dung and Phan Ke An and con­tem­po­rary stars Bui Huu Hung and Hong Viet Dung, to­gether with sculp­tures, ink draw­ings and wa­ter­colours. Even the res­tau­rant menus take the form of artists’ sketch­books.

For­merly the Phu Gia, the ho­tel has been a pop­u­lar meet­ing spot for the po­lit­i­cal and busi­ness elite since the 1920s. Fol­low­ing a top-to-toe re­vamp, the in­te­ri­ors are crisp and light, tak­ing their cue from the French colo­nial era, with mar­ble floors, ex­trav­a­gant chan­de­liers and clas­si­cal fur­nish­ings. Mod cons in­clude large flat-screen tele­vi­sions, free Wi-Fi and mar­ble bath­rooms equipped with rain­for­est showers and lux­ury Bronn­ley toi­letries.

There are five gue­stroom cat­e­gories, cov­er­ing stu­dios with kitch­enettes, pre­mium Gallery suites (some with pri­vate gar­dens) and a grand Mas­ter­piece spread com­mand­ing won­der­ful lake vis­tas. On the rooftop you’ll find a bar, heated swimming pool, fit­ness cen­tre with views through floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows, and a well­ness spa. Gallery events and ex­hi­bi­tions will be­come a reg­u­lar fix­ture af­ter Apri­cot Ho­tel has its “of­fi­cial” open­ing.

DON’T MISS:

A dip in that lovely rooftop pool.

DIN­ING IN: French ex­ec­u­tive chef Hugo Bar­beris has worked in Viet­nam for 12 years and brings this lo­cal ex­pe­ri­ence to bear on the mez­za­nine L’Artiste with its open kitchen, and Ate­lier, lo­cated in the lobby and serv­ing a wide se­lec­tion of teas; af­ter­noon tea for two costs the equiv­a­lent of just $30.

DIN­ING OUT: Hanoi claims some of the best and cheap­est street food in the world with no need to stray far from the old quar­ter. There’s only one dish at the fa­mous Cha Ca La Vong (14 Cha Ca Street) — a de­li­cious siz­zling fried fish mounded with fresh herbs, which is not to be missed. Or head to Pho 10 Quoc Su (10 Ly Quoc Su Street) for its fa­mous beef noo­dle soup, or a tra­di­tional sand­wich with pork at Banh Mee Res­tau­rant (18 Au Trieu Street).

ASK THE CONCIERGE: Guests can walk along Hang Dao Street to Dong Xuan Mar­ket, which spans Hang Ngang, Hang Dao, Hang Duong and Dong Xuan streets and fea­tures var­i­ous lo­cal spe­cial­ties, cloth­ing and sou­venirs.

CHECK­ING IN: Open­ing rates from VND2,399,128 ($142). More: apri­cotho­tels.com.

ALSO TRY: The Ma­jes­tic Ho­tel, Kuala Lumpur; Aman­galla, Galle, Sri Lanka; The Strand Yan­gon, Myan­mar.

CHRIS­TINE McCABE

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