The Northern Hotel is only about 2 years old, and things look good. It isn't a small hotel, with 99 rooms on , so you get more style, amenities and space than in some of the smaller 3-star hotels in Vietnam.
LOCATION - The hotel is located on a dark sidestreet with sidewalks under construction and a construction site next door. There are a couple small restaurants on the street, but not too appealing looking, luckily there are about a hundred other choices within a couple blocks. On the side of the block, you have several restaurant choices, and if you walk around the block to the other side there are more. One more block gets you even more. Many of the sights of Saigon are in easy walking distance - Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon River, Ho Chi Minh Museum, Reunification Palace, Market, etc. There is a laundry service about a block and a half away which does laundry for $3/kg, and several tailor shops nearby to get clothes made.
ROOMS - We booked the Northern Suite. There are Northern Suites on every floor, so make sure to request a high floor. We stayed three days on the 7th floor with a river view, then when we returned from the Mekong Delta, we got put on the 1st floor with a view of a wall and a crumbling building. Big difference. We also saw the Riverview room, which for some reason has a sofa stuffed in where there isn't even room to sit - would be much better without it, feels too cramped as is. The Northern Suite is spacious with a sofa, a flat screen tv with HBO and Cinemax, and the world's deepest jacuzzi tub. The problem with the jacuzzi tub is that it is rectangular, there is no separate shower, and the shower is perpendicular to the tub, so you are standing on jets and having only about 2 feet in width of a shower. Nice, clean, large, free cable internet (wi-fi didn't work most of the time), and pretty new looking. There is no iron or ironing board in the room, and they won't give you one or even let you borrow one (they have them they just won't let you use them), instead forcing you to use their expensive pressing service. There is no real hair dryer in the room - just some vacuum pump thing on the wall. No clock, and our wake up call came 15 minutes late. Beds are hard but pillows are ok. There is a room safe.
AMENITIES - There is a rooftop bar which has odd decor, but is nice to sit at for a drink. The restaurant menu looked pretty gruesome, so we didn't try that, particularly after having the awful breakfast buffet. The buffet items were always cold and nasty. You can get cooked to order eggs and noodle soup but they don't tell anyone that and there is no station or signs, so nobody knows that. We were the only ones in the restaurant having eggs or soup because we were the only ones that asked. I felt bad watching the other tables pick at their cold, yucky options while we had nice warm eggs. We were hoping that other people would see us and ask themselves, not sure if they did or not. The noodle soup wasn't very good, but better than anything else at the buffet. There is room service, but with a limited and probably not good menu. No swimming pool or fitness center. They offer expensive pick-up service from the airport at $30.00 (a taxi costs about $5.00), and expensive laundry service.
STAFF - This was a real surprise for us, as we stayed at numerous hotels in Vietnam and they were all excellent service, with friendly helpful staff always trying to do the best for you. The Northern Hotel was not like that at all. Staff was not helpful at all, seemed lazy and not wanting to do anything to help. They seldom smiled and when they did it seemed forced. Some bright spots were the bellman and the lady in the breakfast room. Some examples:
We had about 8 kg of laundry to do because we were on a long 3-month trip. We asked where we could find a laundromat. The guy tells us that he's not going to tell us because what if they lost our clothes, then we'd blame him. What? We weren't asking for a recommendation, just where one was. He still refused to tell us. Said to go walk around and find one on our own. What?!? Asked for an iron, the guy says "no, sorry, you can't use it". "You don't have an iron I can just borrow for a few minutes? I'll even come and get it". "Yes, we have one, you just can't use it. You have to use our pressing service." What?!? Asked for a second chair because we have two computers. "No, we don't have one". I point out about ten unused chairs all around us in the lobby - I don't care what kind of chair, even a stool will do, I say. "No, sorry". Later, I ask another guy and he sends up a steel stool, the one that was sitting right next to the first guy. The wi-fi in the room doesn't work. I call down and ask what the problem is. "Must be intermittent, try again tomorrow", hangs up on me. What?!? Later we sit at the bar having a drink. We would like a second one - we wait for service for about 20 minutes while the two staff members chat it up behind the bar. I'm now waving my hands out on the balcony, they look up to see me, ignore me, and continue chatting. Finally, after about 30 minutes, I have to go inside to the bar to order a drink. Staff in the restaurant for breakfast don't tell you that you can order anything or offer to help you in any way. Wake up call was 15 minutes late. Just a few examples ,there are more. Consistently annoying service from start to finish, from one reception guy in particular, but also others. So different than anything we'd experienced in Vietnam, which had tremendous service at all the 3-star hotels we've been at in the past month. One of the bellmen was very helpful and friendly though.
BUSINESS - There is a conference room and free cable internet in the room. The wi-fi was intermittent and didn't work half the time. Also a business center (never saw it but they say it exists) with a fax.
Overall, excellent location, new hotel, nice rooms, reasonable price, but I'm sorry - these guys don't deserve my business.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- ...peaceful in saigon center With 99 rooms fully equipped at 3 star international standard, 100% room with nice view and large window, proposed in Superior, Deluxe and Suite categories, Northern Hotel is designed to provide comfort and style with personalized service and convenient amenities, you can enjoy simple comforts and stellar convenience at the best place in Ho Chi Minh City Located in Saigon’s central business district, we are just a short walk from the major entertainment and shopping districts including Opera House, War Remnants, Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office… Take a stroll and explore! ... more less
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