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The grand palace of Hotel de la Coupole, with impressive French Indochina styling, offers extravagance in a breathtakingly pretty environment.
The remote mountain region around Sapa is Vietnam's scenic getaway. The natural spectacle with beautiful rugged scenery and rich cultural life is a major tourist hotspot.
Sapa lies in the picturesque Hoang Lien Son mountain range, and up until recently, it was mainly a backpackers' mecca. But with the appearance of an affluent crowd, things began to change.
The charming mountain town with great views of the Tonkinese Alps today accommodates the needs of luxury seekers.
© Photos by Aaron Joel Santos and Thanh Trung Nguyen
Hotel de la Coupole's Parisian haute couture is the prime example of opulence in the hills of Sapa. The hotel's name derives from its unique architecture, specifically, the three grandiose domes that adorn its top.
Since 1914, the sleepy town became an escape from the summer heat for the French colonists. They would take the train from Hanoi to this newly found gem in the mountains.
The French colonists and the local hill tribes (Hmong, Red Dao, Tay, and Giay) inspired Hotel de la Coupole's unique styling a century later.
From the moment the luxurious mountain retreat opened in December 2018, it became a landmark building of Sapa. Its facade shines in fifty shades of yellow, and the iconic domes are now an inseparable part of the cityscape.
The building was designed by the renowned Bill Bensley. He is responsible for creating some of Asia's most astonishing hotels, like The Siam or the Indigo Pearl.
He tells the story about the catalyst for Sapa's new landmark building: "I found a 1920s haute couture hat in Paris, which was basically a Vietnamese rattan hat covered in white and red polka dots, and decided to do the entire hotel like that."
The Bangkok-based architect Bensley and his team of designers were responsible for finding the decorative objects for the hotel: antique furniture and handcrafted items from the hill tribes and even large pieces like original storefronts from 1900s Paris.
Entering the lobby, you will notice Bensley's iconic styling with vintage fashion illustrations plastering the walls.
There are 500 of them throughout the hotel, forming a whole art exhibition - an added layer of adventure to the hotel's experience.
The boldly decadent Absinthe bar is plastered with vivid colors, including designer furniture with hill-tribe fabrics and green plants.
Hanging from the hotel's iconic cupolas, those impressive chandeliers with ruby red decorations are designed after the Hmong hats.
The palace in the clouds is a work of art inside and out.
Minimalism? You won't find any trace of it here; instead, remarkably detailed decoration on every inch of the floor, wall, and ceiling's surface.
Classic King Room
The 249 rooms and suites ooze the 1920s and 1930s style with such confidence that it will transport you to another era.
Deluxe King Room
The design concept of re-using old objects is present in the rooms too. Bensley collected them for seven years to spice up the hotel's interiors.
The richly ornate indoor pool on the 7th floor is a sight to behold.
It's part of the La Grand Bassin spa, and its surreal design fits more in a movie than the real life.
With its mezzanine, it creates an elegant space, but there are fun details like the life-sized vintage paintings of young and beautiful swimmers to make it less intimidating.
Hotel de la Coupole is a part of the MGallery Hotel Collection, Accor Hotel Group's sub-brand for luxury boutique hotels focusing on history and culture.
One of the best spots in the hotel is the rooftop's outdoor terrace, where you can get a cold drink and enjoy the magical sight of the hilly land.
The hotel is a perfect base to hike the misty trails between Sapa and the surrounding villages like Ta Phin and Cat Cat, where the locals sell richly decorated woven fabrics and silver jewelry made by hand.