Not our first choice but not altogether bad
First Choice Hotel, on Au Trieu street and near St Josephs Cathedral, is run by the same management as nearby Impressive Hotel, but offers a slightly lower priced alternative to its Hanoi neighbour and is worth considering if you want to save a few bucks and don’t mind a room without a window.
At first glance you may wonder why First Choice rooms come priced a little less than at Impressive, as they’re clean, simply decorated in a more traditional style than at Impressive but with the same soft furnishings, and bathrooms are small but equipped with standard fittings and a shower cubicle. They even come with an in-room computer.
However, the cheapest “superior” rooms at First Choice for $25 are very small and have no windows, which makes a big difference to the feel and value of a room; so assuming you’re not claustrophobic, going for a no-window option can be a good way to save a few dollars. Windowless rooms are also good for light sleepers who wake at the crack of dawn… and for vampires. We’re looking at the positives here, okay?
The next grade of room, the “deluxe”, goes for $35 and is US$5 less than the cheapest rooms at Impressive but the extra points it gets for size — it’s bigger than the Impressive room — and balcony are knocked off for the finer details, like small shower cubicles, nail holes in the bathroom walls where soap trays or hooks used to be, cheap looking toiletries and no included breakfast (it’s an extra US$5 per room).
The hotel as a whole has a cheaper feel to it as well: reception and the stairwells are a bit tatty, there’s a permeating smell of food, and let’s face it, sometimes there’s something you just can’t put your finger on but that makes you happy to spend that little bit more.
Overall though, when not compared to its slightly superior, more expensive neighbour, First Choice isn’t a bad option in the area. If location’s not a consideration, you’ll get more for your money at somewhere like Cozy Hotel II on Hang Be.
One final piece of advice if you do stay at First Choice: skip the breakfast and eat at Marilyn’s down the road. Eggs and a cup of tea will set you back about 80,000VND (US$4) each but it’s better than eating in a soulless hotel reception.
By Sarah Turner
Last updated on 3rd February, 2016.