We had a one-day stay in Vietnam’s capital at the tail end of our South East Asia trip. In terms of accommodations, I decided to mix it up a bit and spend 25,000 IHG Rewards points on a one-night stay at the InterContinental Hanoi Westlake.
As a hotel rewards program, IHG is a bit of a mixed bag. It regularly puts on promotions that make it easy to earn lots of points, but it also doesn’t have many especially compelling redemption opportunities, nor does it do particularly well in terms of elite status benefits.
Meanwhile, the InterContinental brand itself evokes feelings of luxury and comfort, but my previous stays have seen their fair share of both good and bad, so I was curious how this one would turn out.
Upon getting off our Qatar Airways flight at Noi Bai International Airport, we called an Uber to take us to the hotel. Using Uber at airports is always unpredictable, and indeed I had about three drivers cancel on me before Van Thien accepted the ride. About 30 minutes’ drive later, we arrived at the InterContinental on the banks of the shimmering West Lake in the heart of Hanoi.
The hotel grounds consist of a main building with the lobby, restaurant, and some guest rooms, plus three overwater pavilions that house additional guest rooms. I wanted to try one of these Overwater Pavilion Rooms, and so had emailed the hotel beforehand requesting an upgrade.
To my delight, the check-in agent informed me that my upgrade request had been granted, and assigned us Room 832 in Pavilion 2.
A series of boardwalks connect the lakeshore with the overwater guest rooms, and buggy service is available throughout the hotel to shuttle guests to and fro along the boardwalks. The path to Pavilion 1 splits off from the boardwalk relatively close to shore.
The hotel’s main bar, the Sunset Bar, is located in a circular building situated on the boardwalk out in the middle of Westlake. A partitioned-off area of the boardwalk serves as the bar’s patio, where lounge chairs and outdoor seating is available for you to relax.
From the Sunset Bar, the boardwalk continues onwards to reach Pavilions 2 and 3. Located at the entrance of each pavilion is an illuminated sign showing the floorplan of the building, including where each room is located.
Each pavilion is in the shape of a square, and the rooms are spread out across all four sides over two floors. A hollowed-out portion of the boardwalk in the middle provides a view of the tranquil lake below.
Our room was located on the second floor.
Upon entry, a small hallway provides access to the bedroom, while the bathroom is off to the side. The king-sized bed was extremely comfortable – almost too comfortable, since Jessica and I fell asleep on it for a total of 14 hours. Of course, our New Year’s Eve exploits the previous night were probably also to blame for that.
There was a desk and a chair-and-ottoman setup on the far side of the room, while the closet adorned the opposite wall.
Meanwhile, the room also had a small balcony, where you can catch the view over the rest of the lake. It was a very foggy night in Hanoi when we stayed, so we could only faintly see the outline of the city lights on West Lake’s opposite shore. On a clear night, I’m sure the view would’ve been much more captivating.
The bathroom is incredibly spacious, and features double sinks, plus a separate shower and bathtub.
As a side note, I really love it when hotel bathrooms and indeed hotel rooms in general come in odd geometric shapes and sizes, such as the pentagonal design of this particular bathroom. Rectangular rooms quickly get old, so it’s nice to mix things up a bit!
Overall, the room was adequate, although I felt a little disappointed by the noticeable signs of wear and tear.
The same is true of the hotel as a whole: the website’s pictures had portrayed the hotel in a much more beautiful light than how it looks in reality, since many parts of the hotel are getting on a bit, and could do with a few new touches of paint or some new marble work.
Nevertheless, while the aesthetic of the hotel didn’t live up to what I was expecting, the pavilions on the water were still quite a sight to behold, particularly at night when the buildings are lit up in a soft golden light. Meanwhile, during the day, I think that the heavy fog adds a certain sense of tranquility as it settles on the water.
In terms of other facilities, the Café du Lac restaurant is located on the first floor of the main building. Access to the breakfast buffet is available for purchase, though having overslept on our only night at the hotel, I didn’t get to sample it.
Meanwhile, the outdoor swimming pool is accessible from both the main building and the boardwalk, and is quite large. There’s also a smaller splash pool for children, as well as plenty of loungers and daybeds to relax on. Given that it was a relatively cold day in Hanoi during my stay, however, I didn’t see anyone using the pool.
The hotel also has a fitness centre, located on the second floor of the main building, though I didn’t get time to check it out.
A final word about the hotel’s location: I found the neighbourhood to be a bit of an eclectic mix when I went walking around late at night. There was another high-end hotel, the Sheraton, right next door. There were small businesses and busy local restaurants on the street outside, where I enjoyed a delightful bowl of Hanoi-style pho.
Yet there was also a very closed-off residential area located right in the midst of everything, and as I tried to pass through it one of the residents waved their arms at me, signalling for me to go around. It was all a bit strange.
In any case, if you have a longer stay in Hanoi, West Lake itself is well worth checking out, so the InterContinental is ideal for a day out on the lake. But most of Hanoi’s major attractions, such as its famous Old Quarter and French Quarter, are located farther away – about 15 minutes by Uber – so plan accordingly.
The InterContinental Hanoi Westlake made for a satisfactory one-night stay. Service at the hotel was pleasant, and I especially appreciated that there was free buggy service at a property that’s, frankly speaking, not really large enough that I felt it was necessary.
Meanwhile, the guest rooms were comfortable, and on a clearer night (and if we were less exhausted) I’m sure we would’ve gotten much more enjoyment out of staying in an overwater pavilion. The only complaint I’d have, at the end of the day, is that I was expecting the hotel to be a little more modern-looking.
I wouldn’t advise against staying here, and would be open to staying again next time I’m in Hanoi, but I’d also recommend looking at other options and considering what you’d like to do while you’re in town to find the hotel that best fits your needs.