Wanting to escape and chill out from a horrendous year at work, and after travelling through Vietnam with friends in 2008 with Hanoi as the highlight, I decided to revisit Hanoi in 2009 for nine days and explore the city on my own. Being on my own, I wanted to stay somewhere nicer (the hotel from the 2008 stay was a bit of a dive) and have a good room with a window and lots of light, and a couch that I could relax on and read or watch DVDs at night.
I came across the Rising Dragon II after someone had recommended its sister hotel, and after plying the manager Tony Nguyen with a hundred and one email questions, all of which he very patiently and helpfully answered, I booked the hotel. I couldn’t have made a better choice! The friendliness and service of staff alone is enough to highly recommend the Rising Dragon II. They go the extra mile and really help to make your holiday a great experience.
Tony in particular should be cloned! He is quietly spoken, not in the least bit pushy, and with outstanding customer service skills. He went out of his way several times for me. After telling the hotel staff that a cookery class that I’d been to had been terrible (never book a class at “The Blue Butterfly Restaurant”), Tony then sought me out and offered for me to spend time with the Chef at the hotel restaurant and for me to also have a meal with all the staff – at no charge at all. It was a genuine offer and an offer that he was in no way obliged to make, or would profit from. He’s a wonderful person who goes well beyond what he needs to in order to make sure people enjoy their time in Hanoi.
The other hotel staff – including Anne Ha, Thuy, Trang, Anh and Ha – are also terrific. One evening while I was eating outside at a pho café two blocks from the hotel, an American became very aggressive after his card had been “eaten” by the ATM next door. There was someone inside the locked bank and the American kept bashing on the glass and yelling and swearing at him to give him his card back. The language was the worst I’ve heard and even if the Vietnamese people around me didn’t understand what he was saying, they were still stunned at the raucous scene he was making.
He left and came back ten minutes later with a young woman who he kept yelling at while demanding (and still swearing) that she find out the bank manager’s name and call the police. I felt very sorry for the young woman and was then shocked to find her at the reception desk when I went back to the hotel shortly afterwards. I was even more shocked to find the abusive American sitting down with Tony and a group of other men near the desk! Apparently he had stayed at the hotel for a month but was now staying somewhere else. So even though he was no longer staying at the hotel and despite his appalling behaviour (plus the fact that his card was taken due to his own fault) – the staff at the hotel were doing absolutely everything to help him get his card back that evening!!! This was a case of going way beyond the extra mile but just indicates how helpful all the staff are. (I certainly wouldn’t have tried to help this appalling man!)
I loved my room at the hotel – the Dragon Suite, which was well worth the extra money I paid to have it. It was kept spotlessly clean. The bed and couch are typically Vietnamese, ie. hard, but that never stopped me from having a good night’s sleep (as they say, a firmer mattress is better for you). The pillows though were the best I’ve ever had - I wish I had the same for my own bed! The view is mainly of another hotel being built but I liked to look over the balcony and watch what was happening on the street.
The hotel is in a great location, only ten minutes walk from the lake and one small block from the most colourful street in Hanoi – Hang Ma – with its beautiful lanterns and wedding decorations and other paper products. In Hang Ga itself around the hotel are lots of shops selling cards with paper cut-outs, while the next intersecting street sells bamboo products. It’s a fantastic area to stroll around and I spent hours just doing that.
Hanoi is also great to see as a motorbike passenger – you just need to close your eyes when it comes to those really hair-raising moments such as when the driver turns head on into oncoming traffic! You haven't really lived unless you've experienced a motorbike ride in Hanoi! Again the ever helpful staff at the hotel flagged a motorbike driver down for me when I asked them to do so and negotiated a price for him to drive around the streets with me for an hour. Although the driver can’t speak English – I highly recommend him. Just ask the hotel staff to ring Phap on his mobile number 01235774488. I went out for three rides – the last one being at night. When I told the hotel staff I wanted a ride at night, without me even asking, they did an itinerary for the driver so I could see the best evening sites. The trip took nearly two hours rather than one and so I paid him double the agreed price. He looked at me surprised and then tried to give me some money back – a rare experience!!
I absolutely loved my stay in Hanoi and I have to thank the staff at the Rising Dragon II for playing a major part in making my trip so enjoyable. I can’t recommend this hotel enough and I just hope the hotel and staff are still there when I return some day. Don’t bother booking anywhere else – you can’t beat the Rising Dragon II!!!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Rising Dragon Grand is located in the heart of The Old Quarter, just a few blocks from Hoan Kiem Lake, Water Puppet Theater and alongside a thriving outdoor market. Along Hang Ga street, you will find cafes, an award-winning spa, pharmacies and various shops and stores carrying clothing, handicrafts, and other amazing finds! ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Rising Dragon Grand Hotel Hanoi