Sofitel Plaza Hanoi turns the tables with culture-rich redesign

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When designers met in the Sofitel Plaza Hanoi to plan the property’s first major overhaul, they only had to look under their noses to find inspiration.

Relaunched in April 2012 after a landmark renovation, the Sofitel Plaza Hanoi on Truc Bach Lake is repositioning itself within a handful of top tier properties in the city thanks to an inspired makeover by Singaporean firm DPD+ Pte Ltd.

The hotel’s Luxury Club Rooms, Ming Restaurant, Plaza Ballroom, Business Center and 20th-floor Summit Lounge were all reimagined and revamped over the course of 2011.

If, as they say, the rooms set the tone for the entire hotel, the tone set by the redesigned Luxury Club Rooms is a poetic contrast of cultures and eras. Chateau-inspired fabrics are juxtaposed with Oriental motifs, sleek silhouettes with old-world pieces.

“We wanted to demonstrate the very sublime concept of the great heritage of Europe coming into the exotic culture of Vietnam. Each portion of the room is a reference to the destination and exudes its history – it’s a place rather than a space”, said Victor Loh, design director for the project.

DPD+ capitalized on the skill of Vietnamese artisans to execute its vision. Locally sourced and manufactured products make up the majority of the lanterns, furniture, pots, porcelain, rugs and artwork used in the redesign. The images in the hotel’s renovated rooms, corridors and restaurants capture details of the area immediately surrounding the hotel.

“The idea of giving traditional Vietnamese materials a new lease of life by using them in a contemporary way appealled to us from the start,” added Mr Loh.

Designers took enhancing the spatial quality of the Luxury Club rooms as their first task, knocking down the wall between the vestibule and the room, replacing it with a timber lattice featuring Vietnamese motifs, and installing transparent glass walls and doors in the bathroom. The result allows guests a certain privacy on either side of the lattice, while still feeling the expanse of the room within one’s view.

Among the room’s new furnishings, the Vietnamese antique-inspired writing desk, lotus lamps, silver-ringed drawer handles, lattice timber screen, European carpet and winged reading chair all evoke the mixed cultural heritage of Vietnam. Neutral whites and grays serve as a backdrop for warm timber, royal purple and soft golds to shine. The feature wallpaper is in the yellow whitewash of Vietnam’s historic buildings, while its pattern is typical of the interiors of European homes.

A genuine 500-year-old piece of Cham pottery salvaged from a sunken vessel greets guests in the doorway, while soaking in the new bathtub, guests are pleasantly reminded of the hotel’s slogan that “Life is Magnifique” embossed on small a glass mirror indented in the marble walls.

The feeling of luxury culminates in the hotel’s 420-square-meter Plaza Ballroom. Able to accommodate 500 people, the room’s grandeur was upgraded on a larger scale, with mirrored ceilings, marble walls, and sparkling crystal chandeliers. Designers used a palette of auspicious reds, golds and silvers to a contemporary effect.

Just outside the ballroom, in the hotel’s flagship fine-dining venue, Ming Restaurant, the concept is openness. “Previously all the good views were given to the private rooms, we reversed that and gave a lot of the best views back to the main seating area. The two new show kitchens enliven the atmosphere.”

Timber panels, a line of pedestals with potted bonsai, and a corner tea lounge harken back to Ming’s culinary roots. Twelve distinct and dramatically oversized lanterns line the restaurant’s wall overlooking the hotel lobby and atrium, while on the other side, diners look out over tree-lined Thanh Nien Boulevard.

But nowhere in the property are the views more central to the picture than in Summit Lounge. The hotel’s 20th floor nightspot delivers breathtaking 360-degree views of the sprawling capital, two of its legendary lakes and the Red River in the distance.

The concept of a floating pavilion in the sky was created by using mirror panels to reflect the views of the horizon outside the lounge. Captivating shades of midnight blue, purple and red add drama, frosted flickering lamps lend romance, and a changing fiber-optic ceiling entices guests to sit back and relax. Seating options vary from hooded birds-nest loungers, to cushioned wicker armchairs to deep sofas.

“This is not just a modern hotel with a new coat of paint. It has a story that you can take away, and that enriches the experiencea��, stressed design director for the project.

Over the past 40 years, DPD+ has worked with numerous five-star hotel groups and are responsible for the design of Singaporean landmarks such as the Marina Square, Singapore Arts Centre and facilities at the Resorts World Sentosa.