Suite dreams for drama queens
An ever-growing fleet of luxury cars, hip boutique openings and celebrity visits are rapidly transforming Vietnam into the next luxury travel destination. If you want to sleep in Kristin Scott Thomas' bed, for example, go to the Hotel de l'Opera, Hanoi's new luxury boutique hotel, and ask for room 606.
She won't be there, but the bed is so comfortable, Thomas is said to have ordered a copy of it for her flat in Paris.
Besides being unusually high, the bed in room 606 offers an exceptional view of Hanoi's Opera House. The room also features dark wooden floors, a claw-foot tub, and an eclectic mix of designer inspired furniture and objects.
The combination of colours and objects feels a little crowded at times, but it is consistent with the hotel's theatrical theme. It is designed to evoke the backstage room where the furniture for the sets is kept.
The mirror in the bathroom, which has light fixtures around the rim, evokes an artiste's dressing room. Amenities by Hermes and L'Occitane add touches of luxury.
Only two elements remind you that you are in Vietnam: the beautiful black lacquered box that holds the bathroom amenities, and the very friendly and efficient staff.
Green is the predominant colour for La Fee Verte, the concept bar in the lobby, themed around absinthe, the favourite poison of 19th-century Parisian artists. The choice of absinthe-based cocktails is wide and intriguing. There is Tremblement de Terre (Earthquake) made with VSOP cognac, or Death in the Afternoon, supposedly Hemingway's favourite absinthe drink, which is made with French champagne.
The huge adjoining courtyard is white with a central fountain, comfy daybeds and private dining rooms. It is a great place for a party, a fashion show or a lazy lounge around during the hot days of summer.
The spacious lobby, with diffuse light penetrating white-draped windows, contributes to the overall luxurious atmosphere.
The hotel's restaurant is named after the French painter Toulouse-Lautrec, and serves a typical Parisian brasserie-style breakfast, lunch and dinner.
A lunch could consist of a terrine of homemade duck soup for starters, followed by a pork mignon with chanterelle sauce and, for dessert, a strawberry pyramid mousse with meringue heart on citrus biscuit white chocolate surprise.
The hotel's location is one of the most enviable in Hanoi. It is within easy walking distance of historic Hoan Kiem Lake, the 36 streets (the city's old quarter) and the Opera House itself, which is a smaller version of the opulent Palais Garnier in Paris.
Travellers craving a taste of Paris without leaving Asia will certainly enjoy their stay here. After all, almost everything about the Hotel de l'Opera - its theme, menu and even the view - seems entirely French.
A Night at L'OPERA
29 Trang Tien Street
Hoan Kiem District
Rooms start at US$ 130
From Hong Kong: Cathay Pacific, Dragon Air and Vietnam Airlines fly direct to Hanoi.
Tip: you may need a visa to travel to Vietnam. Check with the Consulate of Vietnam.
Consular office: 15/F, Great Smart Tower, 230 Wan Chai Road, Wan Chai www.vietnamconsulate-hongkong.org