Hearkening back to a more glamorous time, the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi serves as a stately presence in the city’s French Quarter. Opened in 1901, this beloved landmark has catered to prominent figures throughout history, such as Joan Baez, Charlie Chaplin, Somerset Maugham, John McCain, and many more. Its luxurious setting, storied past, and high standards continue to make it one of the most prestigious addresses in Hanoi. Also adding to its charms is Le Spa du Metropole, which provides a welcome reprieve from the city’s frenetic pace.
Capturing both the classical look of the hotel’s Metropole Wing and the contemporary feel of its newer Opera Wing, the spa spans two floors and features seven stunning treatment rooms, all unique in their own way. The Belle de Jour (Beautiful Day) and Reve de Soie (Dream Silk) Rooms pair French architecture with Asian-inspired decor. Showcasing the color red, which is considered auspicious in Vietnam, the Hoa Dao (Cherry Blossom) Room pays homage to traditional emblems of style. Intended for Thai massage, the blue-and-white Sabai Room (Happy) is inspired by the Marukhathayawan Summer Palace in Thailand. Couples are transported back in time in the Indochina-inspired Tonkin Suite. Another couples’ room, the Annam Suite, features a French neo-classical style. Minimalists will feel at home in the Exquis Room with its simplified Art Deco design.
Never sacrificing substance for style, the lavish spa leaves no detail undone. According to spa manager Aurore Brahami, it’s important that the spa maintain the hotel’s stellar reputation by always striving to exceed expectations. “With many returning guests, the spa needs to constantly develop its treatment menu with innovative offerings and a high level of service,” says Brahami. “The experience needs to surprise, and that is why we focus on personalized touches, such as offering a choice of teas, pillows, and music.” Special consideration was given to the treatment beds, as well, which are designed to be more comfortable with thick mattresses and softer face cradles.
Fragrance is another way in which the spa differentiates itself. A partnership with Laurent Séverac, a French perfumer from Grasse, the city of perfume, has been especially helpful in that regard. In addition to creating all of the spa’s unique treatment oils and essences, Séverac also formulated a delicate blend to scent the spa’s public areas, an Oriental-inspired fragrance for the hammam, and a pine-scented fragrance for the sauna. The spa also offers two organic teas from Séverac’s plantation in Vietnam: a Welcome Tea, which is a relaxing chamomile tea with lavender and honey, and a Farewell Tea, which is a pink hibiscus tea with honey.
Not to be overshadowed by the spa’s impressive decor and personalized touches, the treatment menu also invites praise. Resembling a restaurant menu, it features starters, such as baths and scrubs, to whet the appetite. Facials and massages make up the main courses, and dessert is usually a wrap or add-on foot or scalp massage. Drawing on the country’s historical ties to France and the Sofitel’s French connection, it’s no surprise that Clarins, a popular French skincare line, was selected as the spa’s product line. Ytsara, an Asian-inspired holistic brand, is also a staple at the spa and fits well with its East-meets-West theme.
A highlight of the menu includes the Dawn on Halong Bay ($95, 90 minutes), an organic facial that features a blend of green tea and bamboo shoot extract. The facial also incorporates Diem Cham, an ancient Vietnamese traditional method of facial reflexology. To ensure exclusivity and add a customized touch to the treatments, Galya Ortega, a renowned international holistic specialist from Paris, designed the spa’s signature massages and body rituals. Two menu standouts are the Indochine Journey ($95, 90 minutes), a revitalizing treatment involving heated aromatic poultices that soothe tired muscles, and the Asian Heritage ($95, 90 minutes), which uses a warm cushion to release blockages and tune energy flow.
With 12 full-time therapists and five concierges, the spa is equipped to handle the 30 to 35 guests who visit each day in high season and the 20 to 25 in low season. Looking to the future, Brahami and her staff are focused on raising the bar even higher and enhancing the sensorial experience for each guest by introducing macaroons after the treatments, adding a touch of hydrating honey to their lips, and improving the process by which they turn over on the treatment beds. So as not to disturb guests during their treatments, therapists are being taught to use the bed sheet to transition their bodies from one side to the other. It is yet another way in which the staff focuses on the details.
Although Le Spa du Metropole ranks among the world’s most enticing spas, its location in Vietnam does present some challenges. According to Brahami, education can be an issue, as there are no esthetic or cosmetology schools in the vicinity. As a result, most therapists are trained in-house or abroad. And because the concept of a spa is still relatively new in Vietnam, some therapists are hesitant to share what they do for a living. “There are still many Vietnamese who misinterpret the purpose of going to a spa,” says Brahami. Fortunately, that is not the case for the many guests who visit the spa each day. For them, the spa is the perfect place to disconnect from the outside world and embark on a journey to nirvana.
Owners: Hanoi Tourist and VinaCapital (Hanoi)
Spa Manager: Aurore Brahami
65% female, 35% male
MOST REPRESENTED COUNTRIES:
Australia, U.K., France
4,305 square feet;
7 treatment rooms
body treatments, couples’ treatments, facials, fitness, hammam, hand and foot treatments, hydrotherapy, massage, reflexology, tai chi, yoga
Indochine Journey ($95, 90 minutes), Asian Heritage ($95, 90 minutes), and Dawn on Halong Bay ($95, 90 minutes)
MOST EXPENSIVE OFFERING
Just the Two of Us ($204 per person, 3 hours), which includes a steam bath, a citrus bath, a full-body massage, and a facial for two
Aromasia by Laurent Séverac, Clarins, Ytsara
Everon, Life Fitness, Nilo
ARCHITECT AND INTERIOR DESIGNER
P49 Design and Associates (Singapore)
Galya Ortega (Paris)