First of my Vietnam posts! If you’d seen my Weekend Wanderlust post before the trip, Hanoi Guesthouse was recommended by C who had done a 2-week sojourn in Vietnam not long before. I dropped them an email to make the bookings with them directly, and while I only stayed there for 2.5 nights (the 0.5 is from arriving at 4am in the morning…), ultimately, they helped me to organize the rest of the accomodation and transportation for my entire trip.
Here’s my review on the Hanoi Guesthouse!
HG is located in the Hoan Kiem area, the Old Quarter of Hanoi – Bat Su Street to be precise, and less than 10mins walk to Hoan Kiem Lake. While fairly centralized, it’s away from the main central backpacker area so it’s not too noisy (i.e. no too many restaurants/hip backpackers haunts in the area… you’re never going to escape the general honking and traffic noise that is Hanoi!). I was able to walk to explore the surrounding French and Old Quarters quite easily (10-15 mins walk), and Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum and The Temple of Literature, though it’s a little bit of a walk (20 – 30 mins walk?).
One thing though is that their neighbours right now are doing some reconstruction so it gets a bit noisy at nights because that’s the only time they can bring in the heavy trucks, and in the mornings work starts about 8am – they’re happy to move you to their sister hotel Hanoi Old Centre Hotel if there are available rooms though.
They’ll provide you with a map to help you get around and are happy to recommend you places to eat at, though they’re most likely to be the more touristy joints with a nicer ambience and an english menu vs the local hangouts. They can also rec you places to shop as well.
You could take a cab from the airport, but I decided to arrange for the Guesthouse to pick me and drop me off via car from the airport for US$15. The main city centre of Hanoi is about an hour’s journey from Noi Bai International Airport. I was left standing around for quite awhile when I first reached Hanoi though – not sure where my driver was, but he did turn up eventually…
The guesthouse also arranged my transport to and from the Hanoi train station (Hanoi Ga) for my Hanoi-Hue/Danang-Hanoi train journeys – they called a cab (5-10mins car ride max) and have one of the hostel staff trail me on motorbike to make sure i got to the right place and settled all the taxi payments for me. It was great because on my trip out to Hue, my guy not only made sure I got to the train station properly, he helped me with my luggage, changed my tickets for me and got me straight to my train compartment. And on the leg back, I arrived in Hanoi at 4am, and there was one of the staff with a name sign waiting for me!
Other times if you need a cab/car though, they’ll be happy to call you one.
The guesthouse is about 8 storeys high! It’s built in one of the old-style Vietnamese buildings, which are long and narrow. There are only 2 rooms on each level and no lift, so if you’re not keen on climbing stairs, you better tell them to book a lower level room for you.
The rooms have the same basic features – large bed with airconditioning, fan, cupboard, TV and fridge with attached toilet. But the rooms facing the street are slightly different from those facing the wall – I stayed in the wall-facing room on my first night, and it had a ceiling fan and a simple basic toilet.
My street-facing room had a bathtub, standing fan… and a balcony! I paid the same price for both rooms, though I’m not sure if there’s a price difference if you request on booking…
Pretty reasonable – I paid US$20 per night. Single and double rooms cost the same, but they also have triple and family rooms available, prices range from US$18 – SU$34, but you may also get a discount if you book on hostel booking websites. You also get a simple breakfast (baguette and condiments or pho) and a drink/bottle of water thrown in daily.
In the event they need to move you (last minute room extension etc.), they’ll generally charge you the same price and settle everything.
The main guesthouse staff Ms Chau and Ms Hang are very friendly and speak quite good english and are usually quite happy to help you out with anything. I communicated with them via email before the trip and had most of my itinerary, accomodation and transport planned out with their help. They booked the Halong Bay trip for me, my city tour in Hue as well as the hotels for Hue and Hoi An.
Internet is available via wifi in each room, or the 2 computer terminals in the lobby area. When not in the room, you’ll probably end up spending some time on the wooden furniture in the lobby – that’s where you’ll be for breakfast and waiting for your tour pickups. I met several interesting people there, from my Norwegian friends M & N (hi guys!) and whoever happens to be there at that time.
In the case of transit, there’s a shower on the first level where you can bathe between trips, and I also ended up sleeping in the lobby after my 4am arrival from Danang because all the rooms were full then.
You can leave your luggage at the guesthouse if you’re using it as a base for travel so you don’t have to lug it all around with you. They usually keep it in the lobby in sight of the reception – there’s always staff there any time of the day – and there are lockers for the stuff you’re more paranoid about.
Overall I was quite happy with my experience with Hanoi Guesthouse! They were very attentive and supportive in helping me plan my itineraries, though on hindsight i should have taken a closer look at it because I ended up ‘wasting’ a day with a 16-hour train ride (more on that later!) when I probably could have flown instead – but that’s more on my vigilance. And even when I had to cancel my initial trip in May at the last minute, they did not charge me a cancellation fee, only for the 3rd party cancellation costs, which I thought was really nice of them.
Check them up on TripAdvisor for yourself =)