Hanoi has a far different feel from its decadent southern cousin, Ho Chi Minh City. It's more serious, and more staid. Given its status as the nation's capital, its hotels cater as much to diplomats, consultants, and business executives as they do to tourists. Although security, tech offerings, and room service are top-notch, hotels in Hanoi generally favor function over form. Spas and swimming pool are an afterthought, and you usually have to look outside of your hotel for aesthetic fulfillment. Thankfully, Hanoi is Vietnam's center for fine arts, so you've got countless muesums, galleries, restaurants, and shops all just outside the lobby.
More than a half-century of Communist control has left Hanoi without a grand-hotel legacy, with the exception of the Metropole. But since the mid-1990s, when the Metropole was the only tourist-worthy inn in town, Hanoi has experienced a hotel building boom that shows no signs of stopping. In June 2008 InterContinental announced plans for Vietnam's tallest hotel, the 1,102-foot Keangnam Hanoi Landmark Tower. The 70-story structure, to rise in west Hanoi adjacent to the convention center, is expected to open in 2011.
For now, international-standard hotels are clustered in the French Quarter south of Hoan Kiem Lake or along the eastern shores of West Lake. With a few exceptions, most of the self-styled "boutique hotels" are actually upmarket backpacker places. Budget accommodation is concentrated north and west of Hoan Kiem Lake.