The three-year-old Essence Palace Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam, may look generic from the outside, but what awaits inside is five-star service at three-star prices. Whatever you need, someone is eager to help. That includes bellhops, receptionists, managers, waiters, housekeepers—literally, everyone. In three years of full-time travel, we’ve never seen a staff this efficient, well-trained, or friendly at this price point. (Rooms start around $46 USD per night.)
The location of the hotel is great, too—walkable to nearly everything in the Old Quarter. Rooms are clean and well-equipped, with plenty of towels and toiletries, a blowdryer, an in-room safe, bottled water, etc. The A/C works like a champ, the shower is hot and well-pressured, and the WiFi is fast and reliable. Beds are very comfortable (at least by Asia’s standards) and include mountains of pillows. Standard rooms are on the cozier side and lack windows, but they’re not too claustrophobic. If you prefer more space, request a terrace or balcony suite when booking.
Even breakfast is excellent—tons of variety, both Western and Asian options on the buffet, plus an a la carte menu. The staff mixes up the foods each day, so guests staying longer never get bored.
Other perks: The hotel happily held our bags when we took multi-night side trips to Ninh Bình and Bai Tu Long Bay, arranged airport and railway transfers for a fair price, did laundry in a flash, and took care of mailing out postcards to save us a trip to the post office. Truly, we cannot recommend this hotel or its excellent staff highly enough.
27-29 Gia Ngur St., Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam; +84-24-3926-2135.