When my car pulled up to the JW Marriott Hotel Hanoi, I thought there had been a mistake. Perhaps my driver had misunderstood. The futuristic building looked more like something out of Star Trek than a hotel. A cantilevered structure, this incredibly sleek creation was all dramatic glass and sweeping curves. Softening the sharpness of its ultra-modern design were water fountains spraying jets into the cool air.
Words: Beverly Rodrigues
Conceptualised by Carlos Zapata Studio in New York, the architectural design is meant to evoke Vietnam’s winding coastline, as well as the movement of the dragon – a symbol of the country’s past; it’s said the Vietnamese are descended from a dragon, and that this mythical creature represents power, life and growth – all auspicious symbols for a new hotel.
Having just opened in October, 2013, the hotel was already running at almost full occupancy when I visited in February. This may be due to the powers of the dragon, but also, the griffin – the other mythical creature that’s the main emblem of the JW Marriott brand, one that embodies vision, protection and strength.
This 450-room hotel located in the new CBD, opposite the National Convention Centre in West Hanoi offers one of the most extensive meeting venues in Vietnam, and exudes contemporary luxury, offering the ultimate abode for sophisticated travellers.
As soon as I alighted, I was swept into the main building where white orchids were arranged neatly along a glass wall that presented stunning views of the fountains outside. I was taken to the Executive Lounge for a speedy check-in before heading to my Deluxe guestroom on the Executive floor. All 395 guestrooms and 55 suites here are designed with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, and come with double or king bed configurations. My deluxe room was done up in monochromatic shades of brown. Sliding doors on two sides of the spacious bathroom provided privacy options to cater for business-like engagements and, more intimate affairs with a marble bathtub in plain view.
The room featured a king-sized bed with rectangular lantern-like pendant lights suspended on both sides. Furniture – from the lounge chair and ottoman to bedroom bench and the extremely-smooth desk chair all came in tan leather. But, what really impressed me, besides the amazing views afforded by the floor-to-ceiling glass windows and automated drapes, was the stunning oil painting that spanned the walkway into the room. The burst of colour in varying shades of blue and its incredible texture added a personal feel. Completing the package, were a 42-inch LED TV, BOSE iPod docking station, coffee making machine, comfortable work desk and high speed wireless access.
Once I’d settled in, I headed to the JW Café for lunch. Not your run-of-the-mill, all-day-dining establishment, this café is more of a lifestyle lounge with cool beats, open kitchens and stunning views of the convention centre and nearby lake.
Besides the quintessentially Vietnamese pho (noodle soup), the menu here offers local specialties such as rice paper rolls bursting with grilled beef, herbs and noodles and bun cha (rice noodles with BBQ pork chop), as well as Western delights like duck confit, herb-crusted NZ lamb rack and slow-cooked Australian beef Bourguignon. The buffet spread includes local and international favourites from sushi and Korean barbequed meats to hearty pastas and Vietnamese desserts like che, a sweet soup of cassava, sago, taro, sticky rice, sweet potato, blackeyed peas, lotus seeds, longan, corn and ice.
For an atmospheric dining experience, the French Grill offers candlelit dinners with fresh seafood and prime cuts of steak. Try the creamy lobster bisque with a puff pastry topping and beautifully-grilled cod served with plump spears of smoky asparagus, washed down with an aromatic French Gewurztraminer. Or, for a more robust meal, go for the Australian lamb rack served with green pepper cognac sauce. Desserts such as chocolate fondant, apple tarte tartin, rum baba, ice drop and chocolate soufflé are advertised on a chalkboard. If you’re unable to decide, opt for the Grand Dessert that offers a little of almost everything!
The hotel also offers a lounge that serves up Vietnamese coffee and luxury teas, as well as the chic Antidote Bar – the perfect cure for a restless night in Hanoi. I was told that when the Cantonese Jade Palace opens in April, it’ll be the best Chinese restaurant in town.
At the Spa by JW, you can’t go wrong with their 90-minute warm stone treatment. This luxurious massage using peppermint and ginger oil, as well as soothing hot stones, was one of the best I’d ever had.
On my last evening there, I relaxed by the indoor pool – the first and only suspended swimming pool in Vietnam, housed in the part of the hotel that extends over the gardens, and thought about my stay. I’d managed to work comfortably, enjoy fabulous food, get in a heavenly massage and even do some shopping! This luxurious stay in one of Hanoi’s swankiest hotels had certainly ticked all the right boxes.
JW MARRIOTT HOTEL HANOI
Address: No 8 Do Duc Duc Road, Me Tri, Tu Liem District Hanoi, Vietnam
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