The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Friday, 29 April 2016

Essence Palace Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam

I don't usually do hotel reviews on my blog; usually my accommodation reviews are reserved for bed and breakfast types where accommodation and service are provided on a much more personal level. However the hotel hospitality and service at Essence Palace Hotel in Hanoi is one of the best we have experienced in our many years of travel around the world, that I feel it warrants some praise from a humble traveller. I chose this hotel because of its high rating and good reviews on tripadvisor, and the fact that I could book two connecting rooms (under Family Room plan) at a very affordableThe hotel itself was pleasant, but what stood out the most was the staff. Weeks before our arrival, Mike would promptly reply to my emails and requests, and I value good email communication very highly after years of travelling and expatriate living, because international phone calls are costly and impractical when different timezones are involved. The welcome drink (mango smoothie) offered to us upon our arrival to the hotel was delicious and a lovely refreshment after the long drive from the airport. We arrived at 12pm, and though check-in wasn't until 3pm, staff were kind enough to allow us to check in early since a set of connecting rooms were cleaned and ready for us, which we were grateful for because the toddler was overdue for her nap. I'd requested a quiet room, and traffic noise was not an issue as there were no windows facing outside the hotel. Our connecting rooms were located close to the lift, so noise from outside the door can be an issue from guests checking out early or coming in late from a night out (not the hotel's fault). The hubby and kids slept through the noise fine, but I am an unusually light sleeper so I noticed the noise. The rooms were clean, and the beds were comfortable.

The main room with a double bed:

The door that connects to the second room:

The adjoining room which is a twin bed room, with a crib:

Clean spacious bathroom:

Mike proved to also be a wealth of information on good street food to eat around the Old Quarter, like egg coffee, banh mi and pho. We enjoyed many different types of food I'd never even heard about, and all of Mike's recommendations were good! Food in the highly rated Gia Ngu Restaurant downstairs from the lobby was delicious, and the included breakfast everyday had a good variety of Vietnamese and western dishes. We could also each order a plate of eggs (any style), french toast or pancakes freshly cooked to order, or a bowl of beef or chicken pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) brought to the table. We ate lunch at the restaurant to try out the menu and really enjoyed our meal (review to be posted later). The restaurant staff were always so friendly and loved chatting to our kids.

Part of the spread provided at the free breakfast:

The variety and quality were good for a free breakfast:

Made to order pancake:

A bowl of chicken pho:

We had also booked an overnight cruise to Halong Bay through the hotel. However it rained everyday during our trip, and on the morning of our booked cruise, Jennifer (another lovely front desk staff) greeted us while we were having breakfast in the restaurant downstairs, and informed us that most cruises that day would be cancelled. She helped us cancel our cruise, arranged for full refund of our deposit, and then arranged for our accommodation for that night. She had gone above and beyond her duty, which saved us a lot of hassle. The doormen and hotel porters were all very friendly and polite, always offering an umbrella whenever we went out, and running down the stairs to greet us and take the umbrella from us when we came back to the hotel. Just little things like that made our stay more special. On our final night in Hanoi, hubby made use of the spa service offered at the nearby sister hotel, the Essence Hanoi Hotel and Spa. After carrying our 13kg toddler in the carrier on our outings for four days (the crowded pavements and terrible traffic and rainy conditions made it very challenging to use the stroller), his sore shoulders and back thoroughly enjoyed the massage.

If you are ever in Hanoi, I highly recommend staying at the Essence Palace Hotel. What a bargain to experience such top service at such affordable price! It really rates as one of the best hotels we have experienced

Essence Palace Hotel
27 - 29 Gia Ngu Street
Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem District
Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel. +84 4 3926 2135

Please note that I was not paid to write this review. Just a very happy customer sharing the love.

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