Some of the positives about Duc Thai (95B Hang Ga) were that, unlike the majority, they responded very quickly to our online room booking request and subsequent emails. They answered equally swiftly and politely when I called from Hoi An, 2 days before our arrival, to change our booking. However, on the same phone call, I'd also clearly said to the manager to cancel our airport taxi pickup (we'd realized this way was more costly), which he repeated back to me and confirmed. So it was a bit annoying to find a driver waiting for us upon our arrival. We couldn't very well ignore him with our name nice and big on his placard.
The hotel itself is a very narrow building on a very busy street... easy to miss because of this, and because its other name "Golden Dragon" or something was more prominent to my eye than "Duc Thai". Check-in was fine, as well as the room. It was clean, the bed was soft, the flat-screen TV and hot water worked, and there was free soap, shampoo, toothbrush & paste. We were on the 5th floor (there is an elevator), but we could still hear quite a lot of traffic noise. Nevertheless, we had no trouble falling asleep, we were so tired! The breakfast is very ordinary (see photo), served in a small room at the back of the hotel, with the 2 internet PCs (free to use).
We paid for our 3 nights, 2 days Sapa trip with the hotel for US $100/person (discounted $5)- with a homestay initially. Later, we stumbled across Rose Hotel and Mr. T told us we'd paid US$15 too much, that homestays have no heating and we'll be freezing cold, and that we were entitled to a 4 star hotel for what we paid. So at first, we felt ripped off, but Mr. T turned out to be a scumbag (see my Rose Hotel review), and in the end, we thought Duc Thai wasn't so bad after all. Anyway, before we knew about Mr. T, we told the 2nd manager/worker (younger guy with a strong square face and spiky hair) what we'd found out and demanded our homestay be changed to a 4 star hotel- this was about 4 hrs before we were due to be picked up for our Sapa trip. Understandably, he wasn't happy at all and tried to talk his way out of the 4 star hotel, but conceded in the end when my friend insisted it wasn't as expensive as he made out. What followed was about 2 hrs of phone calling and laptop research by the guy, who was getting visibly angry and frustrated by the minute- at one point, he slammed the phone down and walked off, leaving who we presumed to be the hotel owner to do the rest of the work. All the while we sat there waiting and watching, not a word was said to us. I thought this was pretty unprofessional, but this might be the norm in Vietnam. To these people's credit, they didn't direct their anger at us at this point or when we got back from Sapa to stay another night.
Our train ride to Sapa and the first day was all good- we were put up in the Bamboo Sapa Hotel. However, Duc Thai seemed not to have organized our stay that well, because Bamboo Hotel had to call them to confirm that we were entitled to free meals, and the tour guide didn't realize he had us for the 2nd day as well! After a few hours and speaking to a manager, a trip to Cat Cat was arranged. I have to say to other travellers to please have a copy of your itinerary, so you at least, will know for sure what you're entitled to. When we got back from Sapa, we read that we were suppose to have lunch by the waterfall at Cat Cat. We had no lunch at all. We also had to pay to see a cultural show, which we thought was included in the package.
We got back from Sapa about 5- 6am and the hotel was closed, with the security door shut. It was still dark outside. We rang the door bell repeatedly, but there was no answer for at least 15-20 mins. Eventually, a very sleepy 2nd manager/worker opened the gate for us (he'd been sleeping behind the desk in the lobby) and after awhile to gather himself, he asked how our Sapa trip was. For some reason, I expected him to be snappy since we woke him up, but he was quite pleasant, considering.
Check-out was completed by the quieter 1st manager/worker, who didn't charge us for a bottle of mineral water.
So overall, not a bad hotel. We might've had less inconveniences had we not come across Rose Hotel and changed our mind so late about the homestay.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located at the very heart of Hanoi, Hanoi City Hostel is surrounded by stylish shops, restaurants and cafes, and is just a short walk to the famous Hoan Kiem Lake,Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Temple of Literature, night market,a beautiful architect the Opera House, and a fascinating slice of centuries-old life in Hanoi, the Old Quarter. ... more less
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