May 24, 2012|
The Metropole in Hanoi is one of those places you’ve got to visit at least once. It’s that much of an institution. Everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Angelina Jolie has stayed there—needless to say, the hotel (now run by Sofitel) has got a rich past that it’s celebrating in a new way this summer. On May 21, the Metropole officially reopened a bomb shelter in its back garden that had been sealed for decades. In the 60s and 70s, during the height of the Vietnam War, staff used to bring guests out to hide in the 430-square-foot bunker for safety during air raids. The shelter was discovered by accident when construction workers started jack-hammering during normal renovations— and hotel staff decided to drain it of groundwater and reincarnate it as a memorial to wartime employees. Inside the hotel is a concurrent exhibition detailing the hotel’s 110-year history. Trained local historians will guide hotel guests, staff and educational groups on free tours of the hotel and shelter.
For more information, contact Le Thi Nhung at (+84) 43-9386-999 ext. 8519 or email H1555-MK@sofitel.com.
The travel buzz in recent weeks has been all about The Siam, a brand-new, super-luxe 39-suite hotel along Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River. It looks absolutely gorgeous, with a décor that fuses Art Deco touches with Thai antiques, and amenities that range from the expected(a restaurant, a gym, a spa) to the extraordinary (a Muay Thai boxing ring, a cinema, a cooking school, a yoga studio). The suites and pool villas are all themed and impeccably decked out. The property is owned by the Sukosol family, Thai celebrities known for making a mark in both the music and hospitality industries; their private art and antique collection showcasing Siamese history will also be on display. This place is super pricey, with the least expensive suite starting around $4,000 per night (excluding taxes and VAT). But pay The Siam a visit from June 11 to August 31 and get 50 percent off the rack rate. For that kind of indulgence, it’s a steal—so book now.
Make reservations via thesiamhotel.com or (+66) 2-206-6999.
Garuda Indonesia, the flagship carrier of the world’s fourth most populous country, is doing more than adding new flights and upgrading its planes to reverse its long-ago reputation as an unreliable airline. It’s also launched a new package-tour arm, Garuda Orient Holidays, which has just added to its repertoire holidays to cultural hotspot Yogyakarta (four-day, three-night trips start at $5,190) and the island of Lombok (four-day, three-night trips start at $4,290). A quick perusal of the packages on the website lists all the participating hotels, which are of good to excellent quality. Yogya’s been on my to-visit list forever—Mom can't stop talking about a life-changing trip she took there in the 70s—maybe I should take some action!
To book a package tour, visit www.garudaholidays.com.hk or contact 2316-1818.