Xin chào dear readers!
I’m excited to post my first entry on my little piece of internet real estate, which will be a series reviewing hotel after hotel and attractions from Hanoi to Hải Dương- in other words, from the famous to truly off the beaten path.
Tonight, I’m staying at the Hanoi 3B Homestay, and I chose it because I was not only getting stir crazy in my apartment, but the 3B Homestay looked very nice for the $25 USD price. The name is a bit misleading- this is no home-stay. This is just a straight-up hotel, and a pretty nice one at that. Here are the facts:
Arrival: Bella, the receptionist cum concierge, was wonderfully helpful, not to mention the ever-present doorman Mr. Lap, who never fails to make me smile. Bella not only showed me where to park my motorbike, but she directed me (with a great little map) to some exquisite street food on Phố Hàng Khoai (Hang Khoai street). After a bit of exploring, I returned, and she was nice enough to spare a few minutes to ask how my dinner went (it was awesome, as Vietnamese street food tends to be) and what I was doing in Vietnam. I felt nothing but warmly-welcomed from the moment I set foot in the hotel.
General Appearance and room: The lobby is very nicely decorated, but the rest of the public areas are spartan and sparse at best. No frills here. However, the room was amazing for a budget traveler like myself: a rose-pedal covered bed, a towel folded into the shape of a bulldog, and the most high-tech shower I’ve ever seen in Vietnam almost made me just want to crash and forego some meandering around Hanoi
And, just as a nice cherry on top, the snacks in the room were all complimentary. I ate every. Last. Snack.
Amenities: As I was checking in and getting my passport confirmed, Bella immediately offered me a drink of something- coffee, tea, OJ, lemon juice- and a banana to boot! Even though I wasn’t as weary a traveler as many who probably pass through there, I gladly accepted some OJ and chatted with Mr. Lam in the meantime.
Problems: As I mentioned, most of the decor is pretty bare, but the room and staff more than make up for some glaring white walls in the hallway. Also, there’s a little window at the top of the wall leading out into the hallway, which might give me the heebie jeebies were it not for the safe that comes with the Superior Single room I’m lounging in now, watching some HBO.
Parking: It can be a bit confusing in Hanoi, so let me walk you through how to park your bike, should you choose to get here this way: out of the hotel, take a right, then an immediate left onto Nguyễn Trung Trực, where you’ll see tons of bikes parked. Find a space, then find the ticket agent (ALWAYS GET A TICKET WHEN PARKING IN HANOI), located right next to KaΦeville and you’re set!
Le Château D’Eau de Hang Dau (built in 1894)
For breakfast the next morning, I was greeted with a most pleasant surprise: pastries, homemade yogurt (which was amazing), and a whole buffet free of charge (with as much coffee as I could possibly drink before my long trip with Hermes- my motorbike- to Hải Dương.
Before I left, though, I took a look at some of the thank-you notes left by previous guests. I always love these letters- I hope hotels keep them, if even in a storage box somewhere. The archaeologist in me thinks that they could speak volumes about how culture and human connection, what the ancient Greeks might have called ξενία (or “guest-friendship”) never really died- it just took on new forms.