CHECK IT OUT APRICOT HOTEL, HANOI
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.
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.