Bill Bensley has conjured up a glamorous new boutique hotel as a ‘petite auberge’ for creatives of a bygone age ...

Just moments from the Hanoi Opera House, nestled in the French-influenced Old Quarter, Capella Hanoi is infused with an enchanting narrative. 

Bill tells of ‘une petite auberge’ many decades before the war, which offered the perfect accommodation for those visiting the opera. One guest in particular fell so in love with the property that he bought it, and painstakingly transformed it into the must-stay spot in Hanoi. It later changed hands, was used as a depot throughout the war, before passing into the hands of a wealthy Vietnamese gentleman. This new owner began an extensive renovation, restoring the hotel to its former glory with good taste, and a little eccentricity. 

"Bill tells of ‘une petite auberge’ many decades before the war, which offered the perfect accommodation for those visiting the opera"

Each of the 47 rooms and suites within this unique little hotel tells the tale of an actor, opera singer, composer, stage and costume designer or spectator who has left their print on Hanoi over the past 150 years. Using more than a thousand items of memorabilia – from theatre programmes to photographs – and custom portraiture art by Kate Spencer, the interiors immerse travellers in the glamour of the Grand Opera.

Capella Hanoi’s span of accommodation varies from the 35m2 premier rooms, complete with French balconies, to elegant suites with separate living and dining areas, and four exceptionally styled Opera suites on the top floor, offering wonderful al fresco terraces.

The hotel’s public spaces are equally expressive. Signature restaurant, Backstage, serves up northern Vietnamese-inspired dishes, against a striking backdrop of theatrical costumes and vintage tableware.

Bill personally sourced vintage gowns, trunks and wooden shoe moulds for the space, while the eye-catching artwork was designed in collaboration with William Barrington Binns – an award-winning DOP photographer and artist based in Bangkok.

The Diva’s Lounge, meanwhile, pays tribute to the leading ladies of the 1920s. Vietnamese-inspired rugs and elaborate furniture, custom-designed by Bill, meld beautifully with an original antique zinc bar and 1700s fireplace. 

The social heart of the hotel is The Living Room. Each day, guests can enjoy varying expert-led classes in everything from dó bamboo paper fanmaking, Vietnamese coffee cupping, Sarah Bernhardt’s cookie making and Vietnamese rum sampling.

“Vietnam is one of the world’s most dynamic destinations, where the spirit and energy is reminiscent of the roaring 1920s, when anything seemed possible"

The hotel’s inner courtyard, meanwhile, spans the entire height of the property. Bill was inspired by the sculptures adorning the Palais de la Porte Doree in Paris for the interior, telling the history of Vietnam with the aid of talented local craftsmen. 

The soothing ambience of Auriga Spa provides the perfect refuge for the weary traveller. Featuring couples’ treatment suites, saunas, steam baths, a fitness centre and La Grotta – a glamorous art deco-inspired indoor pool in black, white and blue –  modern spa science and celestial rhythms combine for the ultimate spa experience. 

Capella Hanoi is testament to Bill’s vision and flair, capturing the spirit of the roaring 20s, while channelling the vibrancy of Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem district.  

“Vietnam is one of the world’s most dynamic destinations, where the spirit and energy is reminiscent of the roaring 1920s, when anything seemed possible,” affirms general manager, Christoph Strahm. “With Bill Bensley’s inimitable design, a sense of opulence and a deep respect for our surroundings, we will let our guests feel the pulse of Hanoi.”

Capella Hanoi is the sixth addition to Capella Hotels & Resorts’ prestigious portfolio – the first in Vietnam and the fourth in south-east Asia, joining Capella Bangkok, Capella Singapore, and Capella Ubud, Bali.