The JW Marriott Hanoi gives guests a glimpse of Vietnam’s ancient capital at its most modern
By Christopher P. Hill
Admittedly, the view from your room at Hanoi’s brand-new JW Marriott might be disorientating: instead of narrow, motorbike-filled lanes, you’ll see an elevated highway. Rather than tree-shaded boulevards and colonial villas, your eyes will settle on a spate of gleaming high-rises, including Landmark 72, the country’s tallest skyscraper. And just across a small artificial lake is Vietnam’s biggest convention center, which suggests something about this hotel’s target market. But for Hanoi-bound leisure travelers looking for an escape from the noise and congestion of the Old Quarter, the JW will fit the bill admirably, and not just because it offers the most up-to-date rooms and facilities in the city.
A 20- to 30-minute drive from downtown Hanoi, the JW is built on land that a decade ago was paddy field; from its perch on a grassy rise, it overlooks the new West Hanoi business district. The horseshoe-shaped building, designed by the New York–based firm of Ecuadorian architect Carlos Zapata, is a post-postmodern statement of oblique angles and bold cantilevers, most notably the eighth-floor swimming-pool deck, which juts out dramatically above the hotel’s porte cochere.
Starting at 48 square meters, the 450 rooms and suites are among the city’s largest, with floor-to-ceiling windows, wood floors, and panels that slide open to reveal a creamy marble bathroom with a free-standing tub. Other welcome touches include tan leather chairs, plush duvets, and vivid canvases by local artists.
The French Grill lives up to its name with prime cuts of steak and standards such as salade niçoise; leave room for the “ice drop,” a quartet of ice cream scoops served in a teardrop-shaped ice mold. And at the lakeside JW Cafe, a lavish breakfast buffet offers everything from imported cheeses and charcuterie to pâté-stuffed banh mi sandwiches. A Cantonese restaurant will join the lineup in March.
The cantilevered swimming pool, on the same level as the 24-hour gym and spa, is a knockout, not to mention an impressive piece of engineering. A roof and walls of trussed glass lend a luminous aura to the space by day, almost in defiance of Hanoi’s typically overcast skies. And when it comes time for a nightcap, there’s the Antidote Bar, a soaring lounge serving craft cocktails and an impressive roster of whiskies.
A visit to the Hanoi Museum, just down the road. Shaped like an inverted ziggurat, its architecture is every bit as forward-looking as the hotel’s.
8 Do Duc Duc Rd., Me Tri, Tu Liem District, Hanoi; 84-4/3833-5588; doubles from US$165
This article originally appeared in the February/March 2014 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Vietnam Ease”)