Metropole – Hanoi, Vietnam (English)

Metropole – Hanoi, Vietnam (English)

Andreas Augustin




over 280 historic and contemporary photographs and illustrations

Leather-bound edition



Hardcover (real cloth bound / gold stamping / dust jacket)


2 postcards, 2 reading marks for HIM and HER




160 x 235 mm, 720 g

Price: € 43.00

Add to cart

Hotel Metropole in 1903 - by famoushotels©

'In the evenings gentlemen were always dressed in elegant white tropical suites, wearing a topee or a Panama hat. During the day, they often wore khaki, especially up-country, and puttees were slowly coming into fashion. Officers of all ranks were always required to appear in uniform." (page 49)

'For over 20 years this book is growing and growing. Each edition is carefully updated, it takes us sometimes 3-5 months to add all our new discoveries. For the 2019/20 edition the André Ducamp files were added. We were lucky to receive photographs from the first owner through his grand-grand daughter. Merci bien! And of coures there was the meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un ...

So, again we can say: Welcome to the Grand Hôtel Métropole Palace, as this wonderful hotel has been called on its opening day in 1901. Come and see the old colonists as they meet at the Café of the Metropole, sip a Nuoc-Soda and exchange the latest gossip. Stroll through the history of exotic Vietnam.

Encounter Gustave-Émile Dumoutier, the fabled French anti-imperialist who opened the hotel in 1901. Meet André Ducamp, Dumoutier’s wealthy partner, who ran the hotel for almost three decades. Here the first “moving pictures” were shown, long before Charlie Chaplin and his wife Paulette Goddard arrived in person (rumors still have it that they were on honeymoon.

Meet authors like Pierre Loti and Marguerite Duras, British dramatists Somerset Maugham and Noël Coward and of course the “war correspondent” Graham Greene. Read about Jane Fonda and Joan Baez in the bunker of the hotel during air raids in the horrifying days of the Vietnam war. Read about Doi moi, meaning renovation, the new slogan that brought the country irreversibly to a new path.

A path that lead to a total renovation of the Metropole. Finally meet the lovely people who make all this possible. The professionals behind the scenes. Welcome to the young country of the Vietnamese people with their natural talent for hospitality.

A book full of fabulous historic and contemporary photographs, presenting the story of one of the last grand hotels of the exotic East.

This is the latest - completely updated - edition of this successful book.

Look! The Red River!’ the driver exclaims. And so, here it is; the legendary stream of so many tales, its reddish-brown silt-laden water, rich in iron oxide, gleaming in the evening sun. Red indeed. We cross the bridge. The Metropole’s limousine swiftly reaches Hanoi. We pass lakes and turn into tree-lined alleys, where old villas allow a glimpse into the city’s European past: bicycles, motorbikes, busy traf c. Ah – there is the exquisitely restored Opera House. Then the car pulls up in front of The Metropole. A friendly smile; ‘a welcome back’ greeting. And here I am.

I check into the Charlie Chaplin Suite, which is affectionately decorated with memorabilia of the great entertainer. I climb the stairs in the old wing. They creak and groan as though they are telling me the story of their  rst centenary.
Later, I take a stroll through the hotel’s Path of History, pass by the pool with its Bamboo Bar, greet the staff at the Spice Garden – the Vietnamese restaurant – call at Angelina and pass through Le Beaulieu restaurant. Its sidewalk café, La Terrasse, is so successful that it causes a regular traf c jam every evening when throngs of guests converge to see and be seen.

Until 1880, there was a lake in this very spot. The French spared no efforts to cultivate the area. ‘After a visit to Hanoi one is curious to learn what the French would have done to Singapore or Hong Kong had they conquered them?’, penned Alfred Cunningham, the founder of the South China Morning Post, in genuine admiration, back in 1901.

Later, I take my  first stroll in the mild Hanoi night. I walk towards the dyke that protects the city from the regular threat of oods by the Red River. Behind its walls  ows the mighty waterway, once the only connection with the outer world.

Here they descended: Paul Bert, Paul Doumer, and all the others; Gold-diggers of a bygone colonial era. Adventurers, civil servants, explorers, clergymen, teachers and travellers. So many characters, so many destinies. On one of those jetties, early one morning, Gustave Dumoutier must have stood, too. Waiting.
That’s where our story begins.

Andreas Augustin

Andreas Augustin
presents the history of the
Hotel Metropole, Hanoi
in the series
The Most Famous Hotels in the WorldTM

Thanks to all the general managers of the hotel, who supported the continued research into the rich history of this icon of Asian hospitality industry. Spiritus rector of the book is Richard Kaldor, general manager between 1996 and 2000, who had the vision and enthusiasm to request a well researched history of his hotel. Greatest thanks to the board of directors of the Thong Nhat-Metropole Hotel Joint Venture Company.

I am most indebted to Franck Lafourcade, who led the hotel into this millennium as its general manager, who not only helped to update this book, but gave it a wonderful presentation during the year of the hotel’s centenary. He returned to the hotel in 2013 to manage it again. My personal thanks to Gilles Cretallaz, who continued the tradition of presenting the hotel’s history. Kai Speth was the driving engine behind the Path of History, the permanent history exhibition at the hotel, and the unearthing of the long hidden bomb shelter.

We thank HE Deanna L. Horton, HE Susan Boyd, former Ambassador of Australia to Vietnam, HE Serge Degallaix, former Ambassador of France to Vietnam, to Tore and Vigdis Sund, Michael Rastrup Smith, Sam and Rosetta Miller, Patrick Antona, Robert Farnsworth and Yasmine Bombardier.

Credit must also go to Guy Poujoulat and his successors, Marc Bégassat and Charles-Henri Chevet, who – as resident managers – accompanied this project. Merci to Carl Sladen, Director of Sales & Marketing, who shared with us so much valuable information, Thibault Souchon, André Bosia, Denis Groison, Hoang Anh Tuan, Arie Sunia, Léa Burel and all the others of the wonderful staff of the Metropole who makes each stay such a memorable one.

Credits to Sarah Grant who successfully set up the hotels PR of ce when so little was known about its past. The help of her successor Ms Nguyen Thanh Thuy and her assistant Nguyen Hai Au made work on this book so much easier. For the edition of 2008 we thank Nguyen Dinh Thanh. The 2010 and 2012/13 editions were in the hands of Ms Lê Thị Nhung. 2014 were coordinated by Ms Huyen Ha and assisted by Ms Ly Le.
Further thanks go to Ricardo Perran, the rst general manager of the hotel after its extensive renovations, and to his former assistant Edouard George for his collection of old photographs of the hotel and Hanoi. A word of special thanks goes to Dr Stein Tonnesson of the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies who helped persuade Richard Kaldor that in fact the hotel’s story was within reach, to Gerard Toupet, the general manager of the hotel Scribe in Paris, to Shimon Tokuyama of Mitsubishi Corporation and to Marc Charuel, Directeur de l’iconogarphie Valmonde.

Luong Ngoc Khanh, former front office and business development manager, supplied the most important assistance. It was good to talk to Frederick Rech, Richard Eliot, Le Hong Hai, Duong Trung Quoc of the Revolutionary Museum and Vu Quoc Khanh of ‘Viet Nam Pictorial’, Jeanne Loubet, Le Van Phuc, Do Thi Duong Minh, Mike Fogata, Madam Nguyen Thi Xuan Phuong, Maitre Duong Van Dam, Pierre Schoendoerffer, Tiana Thi Thanh Nga and James Compton.
Greetings to Australia, where Beris L Gwynne and Sarah Hodgkinson recalled their days at the Metropole – then Thong Nhat Hotel – during the early 1970s. Thanks also to Pierre Marbote and to Jeanne Réau in Paris. Special thanks to US journalist Mark Sommer and all the others, who were not named before and deserve a deep bow for their very kind help.

Ronnie Tan Virata, Director of Engineering, was instrumental in setting up the Path oF History at the hotel.

Photographs, drawings, maps and other illustrations: Imperial War Museum and British National Library, London; Famous Hotels Main Archives, Vienna; Archives Nationales, Paris; Centre des Archives d’Outre-Mer, Aix-en-Provence; Institute for information – Social & Science, Hanoi; National Library, Hanoi, Giovanni Di Giorgio, Northboer, Heimo Aga.

Collections Edouard George, Beris Gwynne, Peter Fleming, Cao Xuan Nha, Sarah Hodgkinson, Archives of the Hotel Metropole.

Historic research assistance: Andrea Riegl, Tuan Thi Le Diem, Joao Mimoso

Production: Harrison Dolittle

Editor: Thomas Cane

Edited by Thomas Cane

Historical advisor and curator of THE PATH OF HISTORY: Carola Augustin

There is a limited leather-bound edition available.

All rights in this publication are reserved. This book and no part of it, be it historic or contemporary images, text or quotes, may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission in writing of the copyright owner.

Important note to publishers
In particular all historic images were edited and restored by famoushotels and are as such subject to international copyright laws. For a maximum of quality they can be obtained from:
© 1998–2017 / AndreAs Augustin ISBN 978-3-900692-21-6

Publisher's recommendations

Dear wonderful Readers; 

Do you reserve time to read and to prepare your next journeys? This year look out for our new book GRAND HOTEL LVIV (Ukraine) — a bold statement of civil resistance in a war-torn country. 
THE GALLE FACE TREASURY takes you to the exotic island of Sri Lanka. It's one of my heartfelt memories of a wonderful hotel, its owning family and staff. But also it's fantastic history — being the mousetrap for every traveller of note who travelled from West to the South Eastern regions of Asia.

I recommend the new edition of HOTEL METROPOLE HANOI.

The first copies of THE HALF MOON TREASURY are being released – exclusively to our readers (and before its official launching date). 

We have released a reprint of our successful book THE WESTIN EXCLESIOR ROME, the most famous hotel on Via Veneto. 

Upon request, we dispatch all our books personally autographed (as you know).

Have a save journey!

Andreas Augustin

aa at famoushotels dot org

"To travel is to possess the world.”

Burton Holmes

(1870, Chicago–1958, Los Angeles)

American traveler, photographer and filmmaker, who coined the term "travelogue"

Most Popular

Grand Hotel Lviv (Lemberg)

Grand Hotel Lviv (Lemberg)

Grand Hotel Lviv in 1894 Grand Hotel Lviv  – the book – available shortly. Reserve your personal autographed book now...Read More

Galle Face

Galle Face

We found records of the Galle Face Hotel dating back to 1864, five years before the Suez Canal came into operation. A journey through the Suez...Read More

Savoy (Baur en Ville)

Savoy (Baur en Ville)

This is Zurich's oldest grand hotel. When it opened on December 24, 1838, it marked a milestone in the history of the hotel industry. In...Read More

Bergues, Des

Bergues, Des

In our world, it is no longer a given that simple restraint represents true elegance. To be recognized as one of the oldest purpose-built Grand...Read More

Le Royal

Le Royal

In 1923/24, the construction of a 55-room hotel in Phnom Penh was proposed. Architect Ernest Hébrard, who was largely responsible for...Read More