15 Ngo Quyen Street, Hoan Kiem District(+84) 4 3826 6919
Hanoi’s classiest and most heritage filled digs, the Metropole is a legend. Just around the corner from the Opera House, this French colonial period piece has been in operation since 1901 and has hosted the likes of Graham Greene and Charlie Chaplin amongst its luminaries. Visitors can choose to stay in the Neo Classical Opera Wing or else luxuriate in French heritage in the historic Metropole Wing. In addition to its award winning restaurants and bars, a Vietnam War bunker has been discovered under the hotel and has been made into an interesting attraction for guests to visit.
5 Hang Tre, Hoan Kiem District(+84) 4 3926 4200
This fabulous bar and restaurant is named after the road running through the spine of Vietnam’s mountains, where the country’s best rice wine is king. Highway 4 brews up its own award winning Son Tinh liqueur and has an amazing array of dishes from all over the mountainous regions on the menu, plus a great happening vibe. There are now five branches in Hanoi, but the original spot in Hang Tre is the most atmospheric and an excellent choice for sampling the array of traditional blends, fruit liquors, and plain rice spirits that make up the Son Tinh catalog. Everyone needs to sample Vietnam’s rice liqueur at least once, and the quality distil here will convert even the hardiest teetotaler.
9 Tran Thanh Tong, Hai Ba Trung District(+84) 4 3971 2094
Think artsy, think funky, think hip, think counterculture, think warehouse converted into a happening bar and you’ve started to get the picture of Barbetta. This quirky and unique spot in Hanoi’s Zone 9 art and nightlife quarter is actually the second coming of the original Barbetta (at 34C Cao Ba Quat), only this one is bigger and badder, and far more of an industrial club than a quaint café like its predecessor. Barbetta Republik has all sorts of ex Soviet propaganda pieces, hip murals, and plenty of space for dancing in the crumbling pharmaceutical factory building it inhabits. DJs spinning tunes and happy hour specials ensure a winning time here.
1 Thanh Nien Rd, Ba Dinh(+84) 4 3823 8888
Boasting the best views in Hanoi, this 20th floor gem in the Sofitel Plaza provides 360-degree panoramas of West Lake and the city skyline. There is nightly live entertainment along with a DJ spinning tunes on the weekends, and the creative cocktails (think mojitos with passion fruit foam!) are worth the trip up top alone. Waitresses wear French maid outfits and add to the whole “art de vivre” vibe that offers the perfect escape from Hanoi’s streets. Plop into the comfy deck chairs to watch the sun go down over the lake with a drink in hand, and Hanoi all of a sudden starts feeling mighty relaxing.
Bia Hoi Corner
Bia Hoi Corner: Intersection of Luong Ngoc Quyen and Ta Hien Streets
It sure ain’t fancy, but the Bia Hoi Corner is a Hanoi institution and a must visit for a drink or ten. Bia Hoi, which translates to “fresh beer,” is a staple of northern Vietnam, with sidewalk mom and pop setups made up of a few plastic stools and a keg being found on almost every corner of town. But the Bia Hoi Corner sits smack in the middle of the atmospheric Old Quarter, and every corner of the intersection has several bars, making it a real scene at night when hundreds of tourists and locals wedge in to socialize and drink the absurdly cheap glasses of beer that flow out faster than the ongoing slew of Hanoi motorbikes rushing by.
73A Mai Hac De, Quan Hai Ba Trung (+84) 0913 524 658
This new player in the Hanoi nightlife scene is a cocktail bar, lounge, and event space with a focus on live music performances. With everything on tap from techno soul to reggae to Tokyo funk, this is definitely THE place in Hanoi to indulge in the alternative scene, and about as close to an underground venue as Hanoi can get. The people behind CAMA have already brought over seventy international acts to Hanoi and as some of the folks involved with the club are the friendly distillers at Son Tinh, Hanoi’s premiere rice wine makers, it’s no surprise that great drinks go hand in hand with the top notch music and smoke free environment.
The Sunset Bar
1A Nghi Tam, Tay Ho (+84) 4 6270 8888
True to its name, this is Hanoi’s top spot to recline with a cocktail when the sun goes down. Located in the Intercontinental Hotel and built on its own artificial island in West Lake, this gorgeous spot has daybeds, rattan couches, and comfortable chairs all facing the beautiful colors lighting up the lake come dusk. You’ll find the diplomat and designer crowd here, sipping signature drinks like a Skyline or Hanoi Breeze and no, that brilliant orange on the horizon is not alcohol induced.
Minh’s Jazz Club
3rd Floor, Hot Life Cafe, 65 Quan Su (+84) 4 3942 0400
Quyen Van Minh is the top jazz saxophonist in Vietnam, and his red-walled club is the most happening spot to catch the best jazz in Hanoi. Minh teaches at the Hanoi Conservatory and he brings in everyone from his students to his talented son, along with plenty of renowned international jazz stars, to the atmospheric jazz club each night. Buy a drink, settle back, and feel like you are in Five Spot in New York, listening to John Coltrane.
Don’s Tay Ho
16 Quang An Road, Tay Ho (+84) 4 3719 3719
A live music bistro and bar perched above fashionable West Lake ensures that Don’s is packed nightly and is a spot well worth adding to any Hanoi itinerary. Chef Don dishes out imported oysters along with wood fire pizzas, Cuban cigars and shishas to go with fine wines and classic cocktails. Sit on the open air veranda with a Naked Viking during happy hour and you won’t want to go anywhere else.