War bunker discovered in Hanoi’s oldest hotel
VietNamNet Bridge – While laying the foundation of a bar at Hanoi’s Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel, construction workers accidentally discovered an air raid shelter allegedly created during the war.

In August 2011, after digging down to over 2m deep, construction workers accidentally drilled onto a thick concrete ceiling, from which they detected a flooded corridor, several rooms and a staircase leading to a 40sq.m bunker.

They found an old wine bottle, still-intact light bulbs, air ducts, graffiti and eerie echoes of a war that ended almost four decades ago.

The hotel’s General Director Kai Speth said: “In the hotel’s history, there is a story of the American folk singer, Joan Baez, who sought shelter in this bunker during the Christmas Bombings in 1972, and who sang some songs beside a Vietnamese guitarist. We don’t know of any other hotels, in Vietnam or anywhere else for that matter, that maintained a shelter for guests and staff.”

The hotel’s managers plan to make the bunker into a museum or a gallery.

“An air-raid shelter of this kind may not merit to be considered a national heritage. The shelter seems like other shelters built around Hanoi lakes during the Vietnam War against America. It is possible that the hotel owner built the shelter as a safe haven for tourists and staff,” said Nguyen Duc Hoa, deputy director of Hanoi’s Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism.

Sofitel Legend Metropole is the oldest hotel in Hanoi, which opened in 1901. The 365-room hotel welcomed special guests like Charlie Chaplin, writers Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene, actress Janes Fonda and many chiefs of state.

The hotel appeared on the cover of Life Magazine in April 1967 with pictures of 1.5m trenches on the outer pavement, which is now the La Terrasse Café.

Inside Metropole Hotel’s shelter: