Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tokyo/Vietnam July 2011 - Ha An Hotel Hoi An

***This post is part 13 of a full trip report. The index can be found here***

The Ha An Hotel is ranked #2 out of 64 hotels in Hoi An, with more than 500 reviews (almost all of them 4 and 5 ratings). That in itself should be enough to convince any reader to give it a try. From my previous posts, it's probably pretty clear that some of the best values in Southeast Asia are the locally owned hotels. In Vietnam, almost all local hotels provide a complimentary breakfast buffet, and we're not just talking about a continental breakfast. They typically consist of a huge variety of fruits, pastries, hot entrees, and made-to-order selections such as omelettes, pancakes, and even pho. Not only that, most hotels even provide an in-room computer or laptop with free internet for your use. All of these things could be found at the Ha An Hotel, with plenty of extras to spare. And for $55/night, it's an incredible value as well.

We arrived by private car from Hue a bit early on the day of check-in. The hotel is perfectly located close to the center of old town, yet the street it sits on is calm and serene. Since our room wasn't ready yet, they suggested we lounge for a bit in the beautiful courtyard garden area. There were a number of tables and chairs set up on the lawn, and an outdoor buffet that operated during breakfast hours. The entire courtyard area was really beautifully maintained, as was the building itself. We did notice a fair amount of noisy construction going on in the building behind the buffet... presumably renovations for the actual indoor restaurant. The noise never started too early or went too late though, so it wasn't a problem at all during the entire stay.

Courtyard area

Welcome drinks and fruit

We took a seat in the courtyard and were served welcome drinks and a plate of fresh-cut fruit. We read for a little while, but after about 40 minutes, we started to wonder what was going on. I finally went into the lobby and asked if our room was still being prepared, and the lady said no, it was already ready! I was a little confused, but realized later that they probably saw us fully engrossed in our books and didn't want to disturb.

The room itself was bright, clean, and nicely decorated. It wasn't by any means luxurious or expansive, but it was more than fine for 2 nights. A complimentary fruit basket and bottled water were also provided. I don't think we actually booked a room with direct access to the garden courtyard, but that's what we were given... and whether or not this was an upgrade I'm not quite sure, but it was definitely a pleasant surprise. Looking back, one of the most memorable moments of this trip was sitting outside the room in our private lounge area reading a book while the torrential monsoon rains passed at dusk. It was one of those experiences you have on vacation where everything felt perfect and you just stare out and reflect. Absolute zen :)

Lounge area outside our room

The breakfast buffet the next morning was very, very good. Not as spectacular as the Hanoi Elegance (seriously, nothing will ever live up to that hotel), but the selection was excellent and the taste was up to par as well. I also appreciated the outdoor setting, though even at 7 am it was hot and muggy.

One of the best things about the Ha An Hotel was that they provided free bicycles for guests to use. Hoi An was the ideal town to explore on bike since the old town area was just small enough, and many narrow streets were closed off to cars and motorbikes. We used them extensively, exploring the sights around town for an entire day and even riding to the beach a few miles out. The 2 days here were probably the best of the entire trip, and I really wish I could have stayed longer. I will be going into more detail in the next post!

Complimentary bicycles to explore Hoi An

Ha An Hotel at night

A couple of faults regarding this hotel. It wasn't made perfectly clear to me prior to arrival that they would only accept cash as payment. Or maybe I just didn't read the fine print close enough. Either way, it was a minor annoyance, and luckily I had enough US Dollars (which they do accept) and Vietnamese Dongs to cover the entire cost. Just be sure to carry at least some cash on you, or you may have trouble withdrawing larger sums from the local ATMs. The only other thing I noticed during the stay was that the ladies behind the front desk weren't particularly friendly or helpful. There was never a smile or greeting when passing, and questions were often met with quick answers that felt a bit impersonal. However, the restaurant staff and those working the courtyard seemed a lot friendlier. These were all very minor issues though, and I would gladly recommend the Ha An Hotel to anyone planning a visit to Hoi An.

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