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And quiet flows the Perfume River

(No.2, Vol.4, Mar-April 2014 Vietnam Heritage Magazine,Advertorial)


Photo: Century Riverside Hotel Hue


Century Riverside Hotel Hue, which occupies the longest stretch of the Perfume River of any hostelry in Hue, is an imposing and somewhat bland edifice. Yet, once through the doors, the coldness of the Soviet-era exterior immediately melts and you are enveloped in the timeless warmth of the friendliest of Vietnamese cities. ‘The Century’ has a great deal to recommend indeed.
Firstly, this is a full-service hotel. It has five restaurants, one of which is a Hue banqueting hall, where guests can enjoy dishes invented for the Imperial Court whilst being serenaded by musicians playing classical Vietnamese music. On the terrace, there is a beautiful swimming pool, whilst further back are the tennis courts. Furthermore, there is a spa-cum- massage service, as well as a tour desk and travel agent. The hotel has recently become independent from the Chinese Century chain and adopted the slogan, ‘Towards a New Style of Service’. My experience of the service was that it was courteous, attentive and very friendly.
Another reason to choose this four-star hotel is its superb location. From the terraces, the entire sweep of the city's riverside can be enjoyed. To the east lies a large island. Turning to the west, you can see the Truong Tien Bridge. Streetside, the hotel is in an quarter bustling with cafes, restaurants, tailors’ booths, souvenir shops and general stores.
You should experience this hotel's signature cocktail- the 'Hue Shot'. Sit yourself down in the gardens by the pool or at a table in the long corridor terrace and order some snacks and this sundowner. It resembles a ‘Screwdriver’, but with rice wine and lime juice added. It really is a great tangy drink.
There are one hundred and thirty rooms, eighty of which face the river. The remainder affords garden and lotus pond views. The corridor has photographs and paintings of Vietnamese scenes. My spacious white washed Deluxe Riverside Room was simply but tastefully arranged with dark red tropical hardwood furniture. There was inclusive tea and coffee-making facilities, as well as sweet-smelling toiletries in the bathroom. One beautiful touch-the bed was adorned with purple orchid petals.
Not only the rooms, but also the dining is very affordable at ‘The Century’. I ate dinner a la carte on the balcony of the Terrace Restaurant. I could have made it a three- course meal, but instead I opted for Asian-style service, having a number of both Vietnamese and Western dishes brought to the table at once. At least one dish had to be Imperial Hue. I chose the 'banh beo'- literally translated as ‘water fern cakes’, which consist of shredded shrimp in little milky rice pancakes which are dipped in fish sauce. Then there was the grilled mackerel in lemongrass. More European were the succulent slices of chicken breast with honey. Chinese-style squid and roast pork completed the table.
To sum up, this is a hotel that offers it all for a wide range of guests. As for beauty, here nature provides it with one of the world's most beautiful waterways, as right under your hotel room quietly flows the Perfume River!

Century Riverside Hotel Hue
49 Le Loi St, Hue. Tel: (84_54) 3823 390,
www.centuryriversidehue.com



By Ritch Pickens
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