Jan 17 2013
For a city that’s cold and grey for a few months of the year, Hanoi has an unfortunate lack of venues to get cosy in. But in the absence of open fireplaces and comfy sofas, here are a few places we’ll be spending time this winter.
Drinking tea or coffee might be great for warming up, but in the open-fronted — or outdoor — coffee shops in Hanoi you’ll still need to keep your coat on. For somewhere a bit more weather-proof head south to Cong Caphe or over to Cafe Duy Tri near West Lake. The seats at Duy Tri aren’t designed for spending time on, but it’s certainly cosy (that is, small) and the tasty drinks — and free WiFi — can keep you occupied for hours. For a more tourist- and Western-orientated coffee drinking joint try old-timer Puku, which at least has the sofas, if not the fireplace. And the cakes are good so you can fatten up to ward off the cold. The cakes are also good at Joma on Ly Quoc Su.
If you’re more a fan of alcoholic beverages then our top picks are Polite Pub on Bao Khanh, Finnegans on Luong Ngoc Quyen and Le Pub on Hang Be. We particularly like Polite Pub for its gloomy — in a good way — atmosphere, cold draft beer and music, but the large pool table is a draw as well. Finnegans is as close to an Irish pub as you’ll get here and has high-backed booths, both of which are high on the list of “things which make a pub cosy”, and shows sports on a large screen. Finally, the newly decorated upstairs area at Le Pub is well protected from the outside elements and offers a decent comfort food menu.
Outside of Hoan Kiem district, if you’re over near West Lake check out Red River Tea Rooms which is heated and provides a selection of boardgames and books, which can be enjoyed in the comfy back room — or anywhere in the pub really, there are no rules. Down towards Vincom, round the corner from DC Bistro, you’ll find Tadioto. This very highly-regarded hangout actually does have a fireplace, but even without it, it’s still a very welcoming place to while away the hours, either during the day or all night.
Our final bar recommendation is Bar Betta. The eclectic inside area is comfortable and inviting and cuddling up under the space heaters on the roof terrace you feel like you’re cheating the temperature. Shame the service is poor.
But if money were no object we’d be spending more time at the Bamboo Bar at the Sofitel Metropole Legend Hotel. It may be an outside bar but blankets are provided to accompany your hot winter drink — try the hot cider — and a visit alone is enough to jerk us out of our winter blues.
Of course, if you want to stay out and about, absorbing Hanoi’s unique culture, then wrap up and warm yourself from the inside out with hotpot or a steaming bowl of pho. Above all, don’t let the cold put you off. Hanoi is a fantastic place to visit at any time of year — you just need to come prepared.
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