Thursday, 13 January 2011

Hanoi hotels

I'm a fan of the straight-talking business names that prevail in Hanoi. Ones like this: 

Chic & Trendy. Fact. 

My favourites are the hotel names. There are hundreds of mid-range hotels in Hanoi, which are all pretty much identical. They're all around the same size, they all have clocks behind the reception desk showing the time in London, New York and Tokyo, and they all serve triangles of Laughing Cow cheese with a white bread roll for breakfast. 

There's only one way to differentiate yourself in this crowded market: an irresistible adjective.

When I was taking that photo outside the HANOI AMAZING HOTEL! the guy from reception came running out to shout "Rooms only ten dollars!". Amazing! I thought. It was almost enough to make me park my bicycle and check right in. 

Of course, all of these names lend themselves oh-so-easily to the comedy consequences of the oversell:

Buck up, buttercup! You're the doorman at the happiest hotel in town!

Similarly, it's not hard to imagine guests of the Impressive Hotel or the Charming Hotel throwing those adjectives around in more ironic tones after they discover that the shower is a hand-held hose above the toilet.

There are, however, some names that you just can't argue with:

 And then you have the ones which kind of cross the line between "oversell" and "fraud":

That's some pretty luxurious barbed wire there. I wonder if the room decor was done by these people:

 There is also a trend for familial hotel names. So, you get places like this:

Which is fine. And then you get places like this: 

Which is unusual, but also okay (plus their logo is pretty much the most awesome thing ever).

But then you get this:
 Which is instantly not okay. 

I put the Bro & Sis Hotel in the category of "names that may actually be negatively affecting your business", along with: 

Although maybe they were accidentally delivered the sign for a hotel in Marrakesh. There's now a hotel somewhere in Morocco called the Indochina Lotus. 

And no discussion of incongruous business names is complete without this shoe shop, which brings me untold amounts of joy whenever I pass by:

It gets me every time.

The final genre in popular hotel names is the precious gems and metals range:

There are too many Diamond Hotels and Sapphire Hotels and Emerald Hotels and Golden Hotels and Golden Ruby Sapphire Hotels to photograph. So if you want your hotel to get noticed in this genre, you really need to pull out the big guns. This is how you end up with:

Sure, it sounds like a combination of "demented", "demanding" and "mongoloid" but you can't argue that it's one rare gem.


  1. Now Tabitha, why did you not mention the names of cafes or bars? Like So Hot, which was, frankly, very cool. (I think that was the name of that one with the most amazing decor - I particularly remember the very glam toilet). That was where I asked for a Mojito and the waiter had difficulty understanding what I was after, despite the fact that it was about number 3 on the menu. I had to point, and the he said in a very cool way with a superior smirk "Ah, mo-gee-toh" Yes, one of those thanks. Ah, Hanoi!

  2. Really enjoyed this post. Here in Cambodia our local hotel owners are not nearly as imaginative.

    I'm not sure how many western tourists would know what Demantoid is but it's a lovely name none the less.

  3. Buster: Believe me, there's room for many, many more posts like this one so there will surely be one dedicated entirely to cafes. And as for the toilet at So Hot, I think calling it "very glam" is an understatement! Best Toilet In The World is the only description to do it justice. And thanks for all your comments!

    Simon: I actually didn't know that demantoid was a gem either until I discovered the hotel and had to look it up to see if it was even a real word. You don't hear of too many people proposing with beautiful demantoid rings.

  4. Thank you for helping me laugh out loud at my desk on an otherwise dreary day. Looking forward to a toilet tour of Hanoi...

  5. Mwahahahahaha! I find great joy in reading your blog entries- takes me back to the days of living in Hanoi....makes me kinda miss the place...


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