After our stay in Ho Chi Minh City we were excited to explore Hanoi and see the difference between the Vietnam's south and north of the country. If you are considering which city to visit, here is a useful guide that compares Hanoi vs Ho Chi Minh City.
While in the capitol of Vietnam, the busy city of Hanoi, we have been able to call the JW Marriott our home-away-from-home. We've not only spent eight nights here, but found it to be one of the most stunning, professional and hospitable hotels since starting our travels mid-June.
Due to our travel plans for the eight nights booked at the hotel we actually made a several separate reservations. Originally we planned on staying our first night at the hotel, then departing to Ha Long Bay for a one night cruise, only to return back to the hotel for the remainder of the stay. We figured we better maximize the situation, so Susan booked two separate stays before and after out cruise to earn a free night using Marriott's new member promotion.
However, our plans were derailed as Typhoon Rammasun rolled towards norther Vietnam. In this case I booked another night using my free night certificate from my Marriott Rewards Credit Card. Before this I had previously booked a five night stay using the book 4 nights get the 5th night free benefit that Marriott Rewards offers.
In total cost for the eight nights came to $260, 1 free night certificate and 80,000 Marriott points. As a gold member I was upgraded to a Executive Lake View Suite with Executive Lounge Access and I was surprised to see the upgrade on my online reservation a few days before check-in!
When the hotel sent me a email asking what time I originally wanted early check-in I said that I was actually staying the hotel the night before under Susan's reservation. They asked if it was okay to add me as a sharer to Susan's reservation so they could apply my Gold status benefits for the whole stay, this meant eight nights in the suite!
An Executive Lake View Suite with Exec Lounge Access normally runs around $377 per night, putting the value per point redeemed for the 5 nights (16,000 points per night considering the free 5th night) at 2.36 cents each! On top of that we were getting an upgraded room on the paid nights and night used with the e-certificate.
Having Marriott Gold status came with the following benefits during this stay:
On Tripadvisor, the JW Hanoi ranks #19 out of 491 for hotels in Hanoi, with a 97% positive rating.
The JW Marriott is located in the outskirts of the city-center, walking distance from the National Convention Center and near Keangnam Landmark 72, the tallest building in Vietnam. The JW Marriott Hanoi was opened less than a year ago and was designed by US-based architect Carlos Zapata. I usually don't mention the architect, but the design of this property is so unique and so intricate you'll wonder 'who came up with this awesome design?'.
In fact, the structural design is supposed to resemble features of a dragon, with a green roof along the dragons spine and dragon head cantilevered over the hotel's entrance. The hotel is very sleek and contemporary and when you're arriving from the airport it will be impossible to miss from the highway and even th0ugh it's only 8 floors high, it totals 800,000-sq-ft.
The hotel is around 7 kilometers from the old city-center, but through out the day the hotel has a complimentary shuttle that goes out to popular areas within the city, but there is not a free shuttle that does airport pick ups and drop offs. The city shuttle is very convenient because the drop offs are likely to be near anywhere you would want to explore, including the Old Quarter which is near the night market, the water puppet theater and the turtle pagoda. If you do need to hire a taxi to get into town, a cab ride in traffic is only about $6.
Every time we drove up the hotel's driveway, we could not help but admire the building. It's much more refreshing than a sky rise hotel which can instantly feel stuffy, but the hotel felt both professional and airy because of the high ceilings and open lobby areas.
The natural elements outside the hotel also made the area seem much more refreshing especially after leaving the congested city center. The architect took natural elements in consideration when creating the design plans for the hotel. There is a lake on the backside of the hotel and a large green area and the hotel also features a green roof.
With all of this the hotel is very sleek and modern with an obvious sense of professionalism from the hotel staff and the guests, which seemed to be business people. There were also several groups of families staying at the hotel, so it definitely is not a property I would consider to be exclusively for business trips.
Reception for check-in is on the lobby floor, but when we arrived we were taken to the Executive Lounge to check-in because of my Gold status earned through the Ritz Carlton credit card. During the check-in process we were greeted by a few members of the staff and they were helpful and provided us with different recommendations of places to visit within the city as well as restaurants and services within the hotel.
During check-in we were informed that we were upgraded to the Executive King Suite with Lake View as well as Executive Lounge access.
When we arrived into our suite, we were greeted with a welcome gift of a macaron and a chocolate brownie from the JW Bakery, as well as a view of the lake and greenery from our wide set window.
The Executive Suite has a large bedroom room with a separate living room area, a separate office area, a walk-in closet, 1.5 bathrooms and view of the lake and sky scrapers.
The living room is quite spacious and had homey feeling with a comfortable L-shaped couch, a coffee table and a large flat screen TV.
Adjacent to the couch is a floor to ceiling buffet which has a mini bar and cabinet for storage beneath it. There is also a coffee machine with Illy coffee and a hot water kettle to make tea on the counter.
Through the doors leading to the bedroom you first come across a mini office area with a desk that is separated from the room with an island. On both sides there are more flat screen TVs.
Across the mini work area is a walk in closet with a dresser, a cabinet with shelves and more dressers, a hanging closet and a full-size mirror. The safe is also located inside the closet.
The bedroom area is also spacious and the design is quite neutrally toned. You'll notice that much of the interior design has a lot of dark woodwork and stayed away from too many paintings or extra decor which some hotels go overboard with. Because the room also has a floor to ceiling window, you get so much light and color in naturally that more decor would be overbearing to say the least. There are automatic blinds for both rooms, and can be controlled from bedside.
And when you're ready to call it a night, you can watch movies on the flat screen with you typical cable TV stations, both in English and a variety of languages. Below the TV you'll also find a Bose iPod deck and alarm clock.
The bathroom is beige marble floor to ceiling and is a perfect size for getting ready in the morning. There are two waterfall style sinks, magnified mirrors, a bath tub which has a flat screen TV mounted on the wall, a shower with a regular shower head, a rain fall shower, AND 3-shower heads mounted to the wall. The vanity also has two sinks which is always nice.
There are two bathrooms in the suite, the first one is towards the entrance and the second one which is in the main bathroom adjoined with the bedroom even has its own door, which makes it much more functional.
The Executive Lounge is on the 6th floor and also has a great view of the lake and city. The lounge itself is huge and dividing into four areas---two lounge seating areas and two dining areas.
Every day at 3 p.m. it offers Afternoon Tea with small sandwiches and cakes and at 5:30 Happy Hour begins with cocktails, canapés and other appetizers. We spent a lot of our time here to have breakfast and tea time and really enjoyed talking to the staff here about what to see and do in Hanoi. They always provided us with detailed information on where to go, what to see and what to experience. It was great getting local insight and advice from them.
The lounge area is rather large and spacious and throughout the day you can have soft drinks, water and juices, but during happy hour you can have as much wine and mixed cocktails or beer as you would like.
There is always fresh fruit and pastries from the JW Bakery available during tea time and happy hour.
The JW Marriott has three restaurants, which are all top rated establishments in Hanoi. We ate at the French Grill one evening and it did not disappoint and I recommend anyone who is staying in Hanoi even if it's not at the JW Marriott to eat here at least once. Surprisingly I actually came across it when looking for restaurants on Tripadvisor and saw that the #1 ranked restaurant in Hanoi was in our hotel! It is only open for dinner and like the name suggests, it is a French dining experience. Since traveling in Asia, I noticed that Tripadvisor is the most used rating system over here and I can say that it has not let us down so far. The French Grill has a great atmosphere and service, and is perfect if you are in the mood for a non-asian inspired meal while staying in Hanoi.
I also had lunch and breakfast at the JW Cafe on the ground floor of the property. Breakfast was complimentary with my Gold status and I had the option of eating in the JW Cafe or the Executive Lounge, so I switched it up every morning. The JW Cafe offers an international breakfast every morning which includes pho which is a traditional Vietnamese soup, sushi, noodles, eggs made to order, waffles, pancakes, yogurt, cold cuts, smoked salmon, bagels, croissants, lattes, smoothies and fresh juices. Breakfast in the lounge was much more a quieter dining experience and also offered great views, however the selection is more limited than in the JW Cafe.
I also has lunch one day at the JW Cafe which has a wide range of selections including pasta, pizza, pho, sushi, bahn mi sandwiches, shell fishes cooked to order, prawns cooked to order and much more. There is both a A La Carte menu and buffet and considering there was sushi I went for the latter.
The swimming pool at the JW Marriott Hanoi is on the 8th floor and features an amazing 360 city-scape view. Walking out to the end of the pool area is stunning and you are literally surrounded by glass from floor to ceiling. The swimming pool is perfect for swimming laps and the pool area also has a handful or areas to lounge around and kickback.
The pool area does not have a jacuzzi or another pool for children because overall the swimming pool is shallow, but perfect for doing laps.
While there is not a jacuzzi in the pool area, there is one within both the men's and women's locker room. There are also separate saunas and steam rooms, both of which were both well-maintained and constantly cleaned.
The hotel also has a 24 hour gym and fitness room with new equipment including treadmills, elliptical, bikes, free weights and an assortment of weight machines.
The JW Marriott Hanoi is absolutely stunning---from the architecture to the service. During my stay it was a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of central Hanoi while only being a short cab or hotel shuttle ride away. The hotel is a relatively new location and opened less than a year ago however it's already built a positive reputation from international travelers, whether they are staying for holiday or for a business trip and their very own restaurant, The French Grill, has already been made named the #1 recommended restaurant in Hanoi.
Overall, I had a great 8-night stay at the JW Marriott and really enjoyed using all of their amenities including the sauna, gym, the executive club lounge and trying out the different restaurants, including the French Grill. I would stay the value is exceptional for both a paid stay and using Marriott hotel points for 25,000 points per night.