While staying at the Especen Hotel in Hanoi (before our overnight trip to Cat Ba Island), we got our laundry done. Exciting right? Actually ‘real’ clean clothes can make your day 10x better. Up to this point we had been hand washing and hang drying.
Clean laundry has nothing to do with this post, except for the fact that we met the SWEETEST woman in the shop where we picked up our clothes. She was so happy we were traveling in Vietnam. She also spoke great English, which is uncommon in Vietnam. Many times the locals know only the basics and if you stray too far from “hello”, “how much”, or “thank you”, it becomes difficult to have a conversation.
While visiting with her, as they retrieved my laundry, she told us that she ran a hotel nearby called Hibiscus Hotel. She raved about the hotel, explaining that she understands the wants and needs of western tourists. We explained that we were headed off to Cat Ba Island the next morning, but we would be returning to Hanoi before traveling south, so we would check out her place when we returned. She was thrilled so she took our picture to remember us:
To be completely honest, I had no expectations for Hibiscus Hotel. I felt a little bit like someone was telling me they had the best burger in town. (Doesn’t everyone say that?)
Anyhow, after our Cat Ba Island bust, we returned to Hanoi and headed straight for Hibiscus Hotel, which happened to be about a block from the Especen Hotel. There was 1 room available (double bed, AC, and balcony) for $35 (I must also mention that most places in Vietnam will quote and accept US$ and Vietnam Dong). Although this was about $5-10 more than we wanted to pay, we were happy to be staying where there was some good hospitality. And did I mention that this room & price came with breakfast?!
The woman, showed us to our room and this was my exact reaction: “Oooh my gosh!!!!! Wooowww!!! It is sooooo nice!!!! Thank you!!! Thank you!!!! I LOVE it!!! Wooowww!! Oooh my gosh!!!”. (insert huge smile)
This room was amazing. Throughout THE trip, I have often thought, it really doesn’t take that much to make a nice place great, so why don’t hotels and bungalows do it? Here are a few things that can make a good room great:
1. A soft bed. (Foam padding just doesn’t cut it.)
2. A bed that has a nice comforter/quilt/blanket/etc. (I’ll accept a single sheet in a hot climate.)
3. A western toilet, with a handle flush. (If you’re going to install a western toilet, what’s the point of a bucket flush? You have plumbing for the faucet to get the water into the bucket.)
4. A wall or elevation separation between the shower and the toilet/sink area in the bathroom. (I’ve learned I hate to go to the bathroom or brush my teeth, while standing on a wet floor. It’s just weird to me.)
5. Friendly staff.
6 simple things. That’s all it takes. Of course there are other things that I could add, but that’s just being picky.
Hibiscus Hotel offered everything on my wish list PLUS a balcony, fridge, tv, nice lighting, and a wardrobe to hang my clothes in.
Here’s a few photos to show how awesome this room was:
We stayed 2 days and wished we weren’t leaving so soon. To top it off, we got goodbye hugs! :)