Hanoi’s most prestigious and oldest hotel, the Metropole was built in French-Colonial style, with plenty of wrought iron and Art Nouveau decorations. Originally opened in 1901, it was for many years the most favored accommodation in all of French Indochina. Notable guests, both past and present, include actors, writers, heads of state, and many other well-known public figures, such as W. Somerset Maugham (1874–1965), Charlie Chaplin (1889–1977), Graham Greene (1904–91), Noël Coward (1899– 1973), Michael Caine, and Vladimir Putin. Although the hotel became deplorably rundown during the austere years of state socialism between 1954 and 1986, it has since been magni ficently restored to its former glory and luxurious grandeur.
The striking Government Guest House, just to the north of the Metropole, was built in 1919 as the palace of a French governor. Its colonial façade and multi-tiered portico in cast iron are attractive and well worth a second look.