Wartime bomb shelter opens

HANOI Groups visiting this north Vietnamese city can now add its latest attraction to their itinerary.

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi is made a recently discovered air raid bunker the anchor attraction of its new “Path of History” Tour.

The 40 sqm bomb shelter is preserved in its original state as a tribute to the hotel’s wartime employees, who ushered guests into the relatively safety of the underground chamber from the mid-1960s through the Christmas bombings in 1972.


“Hotels are always opening new outlets – new restaurants, new bars and new spas,” said hotel general manager Kai Speth. “But it’s not everyday that a hotel opens an old bomb shelter as a new memorial.”

The facility was brought to light less than a year ago during renovation of the poolside Bamboo Bar. Its existence has long been known, although no one could pinpoint its actual location.

When it was accidentally excavated, groundwater had already completely flooded the warren of chambers and corridors. After the water was pumped out, a few relics were unearthed: an old wine bottle, a still intact light bulb, air vents, metal blast doors and a graffiti by Australian diplomat Bob Devereaux who scratched his name on the wall.

“Vietnam is famous for underground excursions at the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Vinh Moc Tunnels, and for bunkers at war memorials like Khe Sanh,” said historian Andreas Augustin, who was written a book about the hotel’s history. “ The Metropole’s contribution to this heritage adds a completely new dimension to the story of Vietnam at war.”


Gigi Onag


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