History Metropole (Sofitel Legends) Present Metropole (Sofitel Legends)

The Metropole in its opening year 1901, and to the right, the almost unchanged façade of the hotel (with one floor added), today.

Metropole (Sofitel Legends)


"The Metropole is one of the last grand hotels of the exotic East. I have returend to the Metropole many times. While researching its history I have - childishly - fallen in love with many elements of its past. I think you feel it when you read my book. But no period has been more fascinating than the past 15 years, when the hotel developed again into an international grand hotel. That is great hotelkeeping at its best. I congratulate the managers and the owners, who have created an island in this city."

Andreas Augustin


Charlie Chaplin enjoyed it, Graham Green visited it as a war correspondent and Jane Fonda found shelter here, togehter with singer Joan Baez, who sang in the hotel's bunker during air raids.
Please enjoy the history of this hotel, the legendary stories and if you want to book your stay at this wonderful legend of Asian hospitality, please click the button "Book a Room".

Have a look at our latest book Sofitel Legend METROPOLE HANOI

1901 Construction of the opera house begins.
1902 Hanoi becomes capital of French Indochina. The Vietnam Exposition Internationale de Hanoï opened November 1902 to January 1903. Requested by Paul Doumer, it was to glorify his policy of public works and modernization of Indochina followed for 4 years. Its organizer having moved back to France, the exhibition did not have the expected glory.
1905 3,000 Europeans live in Hanoi.
1905 the hotel manager is Perrichel, the accountant a Mr. Eyraud, the cashier’s name is Cassaigne.
2 August Gustave-Emile Du-moutier, partner of Andre Ducamp, dies.
1907 Various rubber enterprises set up business in Hanoi.
1908 ‘No taxes for the French!’ slogan. Demonstrations in various districts. Attempt at poisoning French troops.
1910s Tonkin becomes world renowned for its beauty - a perfect tourist spot (e.g.: Halong Bay).
1911 The Opera House of Hanoi opens. Ho Chi Minh leaves Vietnam, not to return for 30 years.
1913 A Vietnamese patriot hurls a bomb into a Hanoi hotel. Two French officers are killed.
1914 At the beginning of WW I, the French empire reaches 12.5 million sq km and has 70 million inhabitants.
3. August Germany declares war on France.
At the outbreak of the Great War, or World War I, Vietnam was part of French Indochina. While seeking to maximize the use of Indochina's natural resources and manpower to fight the First World War, France cracked down on all patriotic mass movements in Vietnam. Many Vietnamese fought in World War I. The French entry into World War I saw the authorities in Vietnam press-gang thousands of "volunteers" for service in Europe, leading to riots throughout Cochinchina. Over the next years Indo-China and mainly Vietnam supply 50,000 soldiers and 49,000 workers, forcibly drafted from villages to serve on the French battlefront.
The Vietnamese military deaths during World War I amounted to over 12,000 men.
1916 The first movie ever shown in Indo-China is shown at the Métropole.
1916–1920: Devaluation of the franc and rubber boom boost French investment in Indo-China. The Bank of Indo-China increases assets from 48 million to 72 million piastre. Investment is directed into rubber (Michelin company) and mining (tin, tungsten and lead mines), exporting large quantities of raw materials from the country.
At the Versailles peace conference in Paris, Ho Chi Minh tries to petition US President Wilson for the self-determination of Vietnam.
1920 The Music Conservatory of Hanoi is founded (closed down in 1924). 2,848 Europeans live in Hanoi.
1921 20 October ‘The Cup of Poison’ by Vu Dinh Long staged at the Municipal Theatre is the first Vietnamese play to be performed in the country.
1923 Somerset Maugham stays at the Métropole.
1924 The first local movie, produced in Hanoi and called Kim Van Kieu, was shot at Buoi, a district overlooking West Lake.
1925 Nguyen Ai Quoc founds the Association of Revolutionary Vietnamese Youth. The Bank of Indo-China declares a profit of 36 million piastre on a capital investment of 72 million. The Rubber Financial Company reaches a profit of 31 million piastre.
The same year Métropole owner André Ducamp becomes Vice President of the Hanoi Chamber of Commerce as well as Vice President of Hanoi Trade Fair Managing Committee.
1926 6,121 Europeans live in Hanoi.

1951 Graham Greene makes his first visit to Hanoi and stays at the Métropole.
1953 27 July Armistice in Korea.
1954 13 March Beginning of the battle of Dien Bien Phu.
4 June Franco-Vietnamese treaties.
21 July Agreement of Geneva.
August The Métropole is handed over to the Vietnamese government, receiving Vietnamese management and a new name, Thong Nhat, Reunification Hotel. From now on it acts as the official Vietnamese government guest house.
The international committee to monitor the Geneva agreements in Vietnam stays at the Thong Nhat  (Métropole) Hotel.
October The French evacuate Hanoi. The country is divided at the seventeenth parallel into North and South Vietnam.
1955 The last French troops leave North Vietnam.
1960 Ho Chi Minh visits the hotel.
John F Kennedy defeats Richard Nixon in the presidential elections. Responding to South Vietnam’s request for help, he increases the number of US military ‘advisors’ to more than 16,000.
Armed resistance against the government in the South led by the Vietcong, organised as the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (NLF).
1962 Today’s third floor is added on top of the Métropole’s main building.
1963 The situation in South Vietnam deteriorates. President Ngo Dinh Diem is increasingly under attack, loses support. The Americans turn a blind eye when a military coup overthrows Diem on 1 November.
22 November J F Kennedy is shot dead in Dallas, Texas. He is succeeded by his vice-president, Lyndon B Johnson, who, in 1964, increases the number of ‘advisors’ to 23,000, expands economic assistance and begins planning bombing raids on the North.
1964 August An incident in the Gulf of Tonkin serves to justify escalation of US involvement. An attack on two destroyers, for which there is little evidence, enables Johnson to go before Congress and get almost unanimous support for the ‘Tonkin Gulf Resolution’.
1965 After a Vietcong attack on the US Army barracks in Pleiku in February, America commences Operation Rolling Thunder, a restricted but massive bombing campaign against North Vietnam.
1968 American air raids make the construction of a bunker at the Thong Nhat Hotel necessary. It is built in the courtyard of the hotel. It has a 1 m thick concrete ceiling and could accommodate only 30 – 40 people. Staff receive a military training course.
1968 January   the Tet offensive, begins on Tet, the lunar New Year. North Vietnamese and Vietcong troops attack South Vietnamese cities. Robert F Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr are assassinated. Lyndon Johnson interrupts all bombing of North Vietnam. Nixon becomes president. By the end of the year the number of US troops in Vietnam has reached a peak of 549,000.
1969 2 September Ho Chi Minh dies in Hanoi at the age of 79. Antiwar demonstrations are held in Washington. Revelations surface about an American massacre of more than 300 Vietnamese civilians in the hamlet of My Lai, and the use of napalm, causing widespread destruction, and Agent Orange, a herbicide used as a defoliant to clear impenetrable jungle (the name derives from the orange rings painted around the containers when stored in Vietnam).
1972 Jane Fonda stays for two weeks in a room on the second floor of the Métropole in protest against her government’s war.
1972 Peace negotiations break down in late 1972. Nixon, re-elected by a huge majority in November, orders a massive bombing campaign north of the 20th parallel.
1972 18 December  The final grand 12-day bomb attack by B-52s starts. About 15 guests at the hotel, some of them journalists. Casualties in Haiphong 305, in Hanoi 1,318. Hotel not hit.
1973 Henry Kissinger resumes talks with his Vietnamese counterpart, Le Duc Tho. (The two are later jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts, but Tho turns his award down.) This time agreement is reached and the Paris Accords are signed on 31 January.
It brings withdrawal of US troops and the return of POWs. Its first lines read: ’The United States and all other countries respect the independence, sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity of Vietnam as recognised by the 1954 Geneva Agreements on Vietnam’
1973 29 March Last American soldier leaves Vietnam.
1974 War between North and South Vietnam resumes.
1975 30 April Communist North-Vietnamese forces capture Saigon. The reunification of Vietnam is completed.
1979 7 January Vietnamese army overruns Phnom Penh and establishes a Vietnamese-style people’s republic headed by defectors from the Khmer Rouge.
1979 February 600,000 Chinese troops cross the border with Vietnam advancing to within 160 km of Hanoi. Fierce fighting continues until March when international pressure forces China to withdraw its troops. Direct aid goes into suffering Cambodia.
1980 18 December New constitution of Vietnam, transition to Socialism.
The bomb shelter at the hotel is closed and sealed.
1985 The population of Hanoi is 2,961,000.
1986 Doi moi, meaning renovation, is the new slogan.
1987 Pullman International Hotel vice-president Jacques Herbert enters first negotiations for a joint-venture with Hanoi Tourism, the company owning the hotel.
1989 20 September Agreement for a joint venture to renovate and manage the hotel is signed.
1990 The Thong Nhat Hotel closes for major renovations.
1991 12 November Soft opening
1992 8 March Pullman Hotel Metropole. Soon after it becomes the Sofitel Metropole Hanoi.
1996 1 September The first guest stays in the new Opera Wing.
1996 6 December Grand opening of the Opera Wing and the Metropole Centre, which receives the national architectural award.
The Sofitel Metropole is accepted as a select member of The Most Famous Hotels in the World. It also receives the first official 5-star rating of Vietnam.
1997 15 March to 27 April  The Venture West Company, Beverley Hills, stages ‘The Reunification Hotel’ by Julian Barry. The play is set at the Metropole and tells the love story between an American Air Force pilot, a French Foreign Legion Officer and a Vietnamese femme fatale who unite and reunite over the years at the hotel.
1997 14–16 November Sommet de la Francophonie. Among the guests of the hotel are Jacques Chirac and Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
The Opera House completes a US$ 15m renovation.
1998 April Sofitel Metropole is the venue for the Asia Leaders Forum.
1998  Sofitel Metropole awarded Best Business Hotel in Hanoi by AsiaMoney Magazine.
2001 The Metropole celebrates its centenary with a big party — launch of the updated edition of the book HOTEL METROPOLE.
2002 ‘The Quiet American’ press conference at Spices Garden.
2003  The hotel is listed among the TOP 100 hotels worldwide, by Us magazine Travel&Leisure and entered the Golden List of Condé Nast Traveler Magazine.
2004 The Metropole is host to many leading politicians during the ASEM summit.
2005 Major renovations include guestrooms in the historical wing, main entrance and lobby.
2006 The hotel receives countless accolades and is listed among the top hotels of the world.
2008: Angelina at the Metropole, an ‘Italian Restaurant & Lounge’.
2009: Hotel becomes ‘Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi’.
Luxurious Le spa du Metropole opens.
2010: Hanoi celebrates its 1,000th anniversary and its status as the world’s fastest growing city.
The Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi receives numerous accolades and is listed among the best hotels in the world.
2011: In August the exact position of the bomb shelter was discovered during renovation of the Bamboo Bar. General manager Kai Speth has it opened and restored. A separate entrance is built and the shelter is now accessible for hotel guests during dedicated guided tours.
2012: 21 May marks the official reopening of the bomb-shelter and the inauguration of THE PATH OF HISTORY (a permanent exhibition of its history) at the hotel. During the press conference more than 70 journalists try to be the first in the shelter. Over 200 VIP guests are present at the ceremony. Among them Gemma Cruz Araneta, the Filipino journalist who had spent nights in this shelter during the American War in 1968, and Bob Deveraux, an Australian diplomat, who had left his name inscribed in one of the walls of the shelter in 1975.
2014: change of general managers: Franck Lafourcade returns to the helm of the hotel, Kai Speth leaves for The Hyatt in Taiwan.
2017: William Haandrikman becomes new general manager.

1901 Edouard Lion
1905 Mr. Perrichel
1933 Jean Boeuf
1936 Mr. Brunelière
1940 Louis Blouet
1942– 46 Jean Melandré
1946 Giu Sinh Hoi
1954 Mr Cam
1955 Mr Luu Dinh Dien
1969–1972 Luu Thien Ly
1991 Ricardo Perran
1996 Richard Kaldor
2000 Franck Lafourcade
2005 Philippe Bissig
2005 Gilles Cretallaz
2008 Kai Speth
2014–2017 Franck Lafourcade

Managed by: Sofitel Accor Hotels & Resorts
201/31 Rooms

Imperial Suite, Charlie Chaplin, Graham Greene, Somerset Maugham,

Hanoi – for a thousand years the royal capital of Vietnam, for over 60 years the centre of French Indo-China and since 1954 the capital of independent Vietnam. The name Hanoi describes the situation of the city; ‘in the bend of a river’. The main part of the capital of Vietnam lies in the Red River Delta. The Red River – indeed red due to its contents of alluvium, a natural fertiliser – rises on the Nguy Son mountain (1,776 m) in the Yunnan province of China. The length of the river is 1,160 km, almost exactly half of it (556 km) on Vietnamese territory.
Floods are usually caused by two tributaries of the Red River, the Da and Lo Rivers. The flood season lasts from June to October. Dykes of 14 metres have protected the city from floods since 1108. The highest level of alarm No 3 is 11.5 m.
Hanoi borders six provinces, Thai Nguyen to the North, Bac Ninh to the North East, Hung Yen to the East, Vinh Phuc to the North West and Ha Tay to the South West. It covers a total area of 913,8 sq km and reaches a maximum North–South length of 50 km, East –West 30 km. In the 1989 census the population of Hanoi was 3,056,146.
Hanoi’s latitude is 20°53’–21°23’ North, its longitude 105°44’–106°02’ East. Metropolitan Hanoi covers an area of 2146 sq km. The city is divided into nine administrative sectors: Hoan Kiem, Ba Dinh, Dong Da, Hai Ba Trung, Tay Ho, Cau Giay and Thanh Xuan, Long Bien and Hoang Mai.
Hoan Kiem, the oldest and most densely populated sector, is located on the banks of the Red River. This area is characterised by French colonial-style buildings and wide boulevards. Picturesque Hoan Kiem Lake (the Lake of the Restored Sword) is located here, named after the legendary tale of the 15th century. The famous Ngoc Son (Jade Hill) Pagoda stands on a small island connected to the shore by The Huc (Sunbeam) Bridge. North of the lake stretches the Old City with an area called the 36 streets, representing the 36 guilds in the 15th century. These are narrow streets, each one named after the product it sells, lined by typical nha ong (tube houses).
Northwest of Hoan Kiem is the Ba Dinh sector with the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. The National Assembly and Party Headquarters buildings and Tran Quoc Pagoda, are also located there.
Its highest point is Chan Chim Hill 462 m, the lowest point is Gia Thuy Commune at 12 m below sea level, the average elevation of the city is 5 m above sea level, gradually decreasing from the North to the South and from the West to the East, following the natural course of the river towards the Gulf of Vietnam.
The average humidity is about 80%. The temperature undergoes seasonal changes, from hot during July and August to the chilly winds from the lake Baical in Siberia in November and to a final drop of temperature in January to as low as 12°C. Spring and autumn are considered the best times to visit Hanoi.

Le Beaulieu (French)
Spices Garden (Vietnamese)
Bamboo Bar
Angelina (Italian steakhouse and bar)
Le Club -
Bar Met's Club


Le Beaulieu

There are a few sensations at this hotel that sets it apart from all the rest.
Hospitality is one thing (and outstanding in every respect!). But this hotel has also an original American (Vietnam) War bomb shelter, where Jane Fonda and Joan Baez once sought refuge. You visit it during a guided tour through the so called PATH OF HISTORY, an inspiring 45 minutes tour in the corridors of the shopping arcade, for hotel residents only and of course free of charge.

The vintage Citroen car is a hit. When it comes to accommodation, we prefer the classic rooms in the colonial wing. Stay at Graham Greene Suite or Charlie Chaplin Suite.

famoushotels.org is responsibel for the historical photographs you see there or in the Somerset Maugham Suite. Walk the historic staircase, enjoy the lovely pool and dine on Vietnamese fare and at some point you might remember that the Metropole was once the centre of the action, as Graham Greene wrote in his memoirs Ways of Escape: 'The Metropole Hotel where I used to stay was in the hands of the International Commission. Vieth Minh sentries stood outside the building where de Lattre had made his promise; 'I leave you my wife as a symbol that France will never, never ...' That was, of course, in 1955.

The pool is great fun. The hotel is a safe place and so is the city. The Vietnamese are very friendly and never hassle you.

Swimming in the large pool Workout at the gym Sunbathing and relaxing A visit to Hanoi: Walk down to the lake or the opera house. Why not rent the vintage Citroen and drive around? Ask the concierge for some good restaurants, but only once you've tried all the hotel has to offer.

Garden and Swimming Pool

Meeting Room

The Metropole is a city hotel in the capital of Vietnam, therefore you will lunch and dine among presidents and tycoons, ambassadors and business people as well as famous writers and legendary actors, travellers and tourists. You are never wrong to wear a jacket in the evening, around the pool even shorts are all right although they make you feel a bit out of place when you cross the elegant lobby on your way out or in.
Wear long trousers, shirts, cool shoes with a certain elegance — and you can't be wrong.
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Our Select Member Hotel

Metropole (Sofitel Legends)
Country: Vietnam
City: Hanoi
Opening date: 1901

Note from the Host

General Manager

William HAANDRIKMAN: "The Metropole is more than just a historical hotel, it is an integral part of the city, a landmark where many historical events took and still take place. It is a legend in its own right, a landmark of South East Asian hotel history."


15 Ngo Quyen Street
10000 Vietnam, Hanoi

Tel: +84-4-8266 919
Fax: +84-4-8266 920

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