Written by Her
The most important hotel on our trip was the one we had pre-booked for our 8 week stay in Hanoi. Despite hours of research, a string of good reviews and plenty of positive communication with the hotel manager prior to our arrival, disaster still struck when we arrived in Hanoi. We had arranged a car with our would-be hotel to collect us from the airport and take us the 1 hour journey to the centre of Hanoi. All went without a hitch until we were dropped at a completely different hotel...
After both researching online and walking the streets viewing countless tiny hotel rooms, we finally decided on a suitable alternative. At some added expense (totally worth it in hindsight) we checked into the Rising Dragon Legend Hotel - almost directly across the road from our original hotel. We have been here ever since!
The Rising Dragon has a chain of Hotels in the Old Quarter. Ours is the newest, therefore the most modern and with the most amenities (It is central, has free wifi and its own laundry service). Admittedly it doesn't look very different from its competitors from the outside, it is excellent.
We have a decent room, small but perfectly functional with a nice en suite (including a rain shower head would you believe). We have a flat screen TV, minibar, daily house keeping and an amazing cooked breakfast of french toast, pancakes or pho each morning. Our room has only a tiny window (a lot of hotels in built up cities have no-window options which are slightly cheaper), but it is comfortable and most importantly its very clean - even to my standards!
As an added bonus, the staff are excellent. Young and enthusiastic, they have even helped us improve our Vietnamese by translating paragraphs and writing out verbs. They have also found us private guides, students to teach and, according to them - as long term guest we are considered the hotel's 'top priority'. What's more, it genuinely feels that way. Having viewed at least 14 other hotels in Hanoi, it seems we were incredibly lucky to have found our current address and we intend to stay here as long as our budget will allow!
- Room prices are not fixed, always ask for a discount.
- The price the hotel quotes you initially is never for the most basic room in the hotel - ask for that.
- Try not to give out credit card details unless absolutely necessary.
- Never choose a hotel based on the photos. Always read reviews, particularly the bad ones.
- Most importantly - bring laminated copies of your passport that you can hand in to any hotel's reception. Every hotel we have stayed in has asked to keep our passport for the duration of the stay - we have found that everyone has been quite happy to take the laminated copy instead. It looks more official than a photocopy, it gives them peace of mind and allows you to hold on to your precious documents (same goes for renting a moto).
- Try to have a hotel pre-booked when arriving to a new city (even if only for one night). We see countless backpackers wandering around, straining under the weight of their packs in the midday heat - generally in search of a hotel! In our opinion this can and should be easily avoided.
- Pay in cash when you can. Most hotels charge a % fee for paying by card when your stay is up.