Mild Rover: Go your own way

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The best little (budget) hotel in Hanoi

I have just returned from three trips to Europe in the last 10 weeks – yes, that’s THREE – all via Hanoi. 

And, at the risk of shooting myself in the foot and never being able to book a room there again because too many people have taken my advice, I want to tell you about the best little hotel in Vietnam’s capital, certainly in terms of three-star bang for fewer bucks.

Now, is it the most luxurious? No.  Is it the cheapest?  Not that either (but it isn’t expensive – far from it). Does it have the most facilities? Uh-uh! Gym? Nope. Swimming pool? Nuh! Massage? No-o-o-o. It’s pretty basic.

So why is it my favourite hotel?  Because of the location, the super-friendly staff, the bargain price and the giant bed (in a relatively small room). It’s clean, comfortable and totally functional.

The first time I travelled, looking to make the most of an enforced lay-over in Hanoi, I found the De La Soie (pronounced “swah”) on where it receives 9.2/10 from almost 400 reviews. Pretty good for a three-star hotel.

FYI: If you want to know why I went to Europe via Hanoi, read this.

The De La Soie is at 111 Hàng Đào  on a busy corner, near the spectacular red bridge leading to the temple on Hoan Kiem lake. 

It’s also at one end of the weekend night market which runs along the street outside the hotel for a couple of kilometres on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

The hotel, squeezed into a busy corner of the Old Quarter of Hanoi

The view from my balcony … a lot less noisy than you might imagine

The weekend night market starts just outside the hotel

One street away, a vendor bakes hot fresh Vietnamese roti (half bun, half donut).

Just around the corner – one of the famous original egg coffee cafes.

Cross the road, walk through a clothes shop, start climbing and you will find an amazing little hidden cafe.

Egg coffee – more of a dessert than a drink

However, the excellent double glazing on the French windows to my small balcony reduces the street noise to a murmur, so you know you’re in the city but it’s not intrusive.

So why is it less than $50 a night?  Maybe it’s because the rooftop cocktail bar isn’t operating yet and neither is the ground floor restaurant, as the De La Soie, like all the hotels in Hanoi, recover from the Covid lockdowns that brought tourism to a standstill a couple of years ago.

But, hey, who wants to eat a tourist buffet breakfast when one of the best Banh Mi takeaways joints is right next door and you can go one step further to Caphe Cong for a coconut iced coffee and croissants dipped in condensed milk?

Oh, and the desk staff will go and get you whatever you want from local stalls and shops. It’s like street food meets UberEATS. And they’ll sell you a chilled beer or fix you a cocktail, too.

I stayed there three times in just under three months, so trust me, these guys really look after you, including organising personalised tours to Ha Long Bay, Ninh Binh and Sapa and even going with you to local shops to bargain for you.

So now, I’ve gone and ruined it for myself the place will be booked out, as it deserves to be, and the rates will rise. Friends have already booked in and you should too if you’re going to Hanoi and don’t need extravagant luxury in your hotel room, if only because you will be out all day anyway.

Next time I go, they promise me the rooftop bar will be open. If I check in, I might never leave.  And if you do go, tell Mi and Tracey that Jimmy sent ya.

Jimmy Thomson stayed at the De La Soie hotel at his own expense, on every occasion.

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